Backyard pasture mix?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by CourageousChic, Oct 25, 2008.

  1. CourageousChic

    CourageousChic Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 19, 2008
    I'm considering planting Peaceful Valley Farm's "Omega Mix" in my backyard for the birds. Does anybody have any experience with this? Are there any other seed mixes out there?

    I have my husband persuaded that when mowed it will look like grass. I also am thinking that now that I can irrigate with our greywater that it may be possible to grow grass faster than our four hens can dig it up (they're in a tractor, moved daily, in a yard big enough they are in the same space once or twice in a month) Would it work?

    Thanks so much!

    ~Kate and the girls: 2 Buffs, 1 Birchin Maran, 1 Silver laced Wyandotte
  2. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I have planted a permanent pasture mix for a lawn and then the flock has ranged across it. It was grass and clover, not a mix of annuals and perennials. The Omega blend should work. But I don't think it will look too much like a lawn.

    The flax, along with the cow peas, buckwheat, even that type of alfalfa will be gone after the 1st Winter. It will come back as a lawn of clover. I imagine that most people who grow this mix as a forage plow it under and plant again in the Spring.

    I have watched my birds carefully this year on my backyard lawn. There is quite a bit of white clover which they do eat but they seem to prefer plain, old, ordinary bluegrass. I was a little surprised.

  3. Bassleg

    Bassleg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2008
    Lebanon Oregon
    I am looking into planting something for the chickens to free range on so I would like to know what to plant also. I live in the pacific northwest.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  4. hcammack

    hcammack Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 5, 2007
    I may plant something if I need to confine them (they free range now) to a set of runs I was thinking I would make two runs so I could let them into one and let them eat it up and then move them to the next one.

  5. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I should clarify that it was years ago that I planted pasture mix around my home. I appreciated the cost and thought "Why the Heck Not?" It was wonderful. The chickens liked it, no question. I felt obliged to cut it rather high with my mower but it looked just fine. You can find perennial pasture grass and legume mixes at the feed store. They may be more appropriate for cattle but I honestly don't think that chickens would turn their beaks up at it for a moment.

    What I've got now in my backyard is probably pretty much what a lot of us have in our backyards. Especially, those of us who have done little other than water and mow for the last 12 years . . . and didn't have all that great of a lawn there to start with [​IMG].

    Sand Hill Preservation sells "chicken treats" seed - - "A mixture of Essex Rape, Millet, and Mustard." This wouldn't make a lawn, either, but I'm sure that the chickens would enjoy it.


    edited to say, the chicken treats are seeds for annual plants. So, growing them would be much the same as planting and growing a garden. It would be something you'd need to do every year and the birds would need to be kept off it for a few weeks while it made some good growth. Then they could be pastured on it until it was gone.
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2008
  6. CourageousChic

    CourageousChic Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 19, 2008
    LOL, Steve, that's the same sort of lawn we have, our house was a rental for a decade before we bought it, so it's already left the land of monoculture way behind. Also, ours is in South Florida, so I'm not worried about winter, but about what would survive the summer. For example, you bird's favorite bluegrass doesn't grow here. Our lawns are Bermuda, St. Augustine, or Zosia (golf course stuff), none of which really look like a proper lawn to anyone from North of Gainesville. I do prefer the idea of a perennial blend, I'll have to ask if that's available locally. All of it will be behind a 6' fence, so in theory I could let it grow up and go to seed once in the summer without disturbing neighbors. The "chicken treats" are interesting...but it does seem a little much to seed the whole lawn for them and then create garden beds just for the birds...I might do that, have beds along the sides in the backyard with taller forage, I think I'd just want the crops more diversified plantings then that mix offers.

    ~Kate and the girls: 2 Buffs, 1 Birchin Maran, 1 Silver laced Wyandotte
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I am going to make different runs for my birds. I have been moving my coop, run and their fenced in yard. Now I want a more permanent structure, so I am thinking about at least two runs to alternate them back and forth where they will use one while the other is regererating. When I had my small flock of 6 birds it wasn't so bad but the flock has grown and they really tear it up fast. I fenced them to keep them out of my gardens and compost and also preditors that I have seen around. I grow alot of produce much more than what we eat, so they get alot of variety. I sell it to the local farm stands/produce markets.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2008
  8. orcasislandchickens

    orcasislandchickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2008
    I am in the PNW and have a wild pasture grass lawn and the chickens definitely prefer the regular grass to the clover. They even seem to go out of their way to stick to the grassy portions. The thing they enjoy the most? My shrubs. They like the shrubby brambley bits of the yard most. I expect they feel safer under cover. You can almost always find them among the lilacs.

    I'd be cautious about planting a bird treat mixture as lawn. My awful neighbor and her 17 birdfeeders spread thistle seed everywhere in my yard. I used to love to garden but that was before I had to spend every minute removing those nasty things and after they get started they spread by runner too.

    Sunflowers however are wonderful. A different neighbor has a smaller flowered bushing perrenial variety. Very pretty like overgrown black susans. I am getting seed for those and planting them all over. Food and cover a chicken bonanza.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2008
  9. greyfields

    greyfields Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 15, 2007
    Washington State
    I'm wondering if the point might be missed here... those forage seed mixes are intended to mature, form seed, drop seed then the chicken eats the seed. Chickens lack the stomach enzymes to eat and digest grass (although they eat grass in search of seeds), similar to humans and pigs.

    So, if you're going to mow it like grass, I can't see anything being able to form seed heads and thus be the treat for the birds.

    To the person in the PNW, I've grown oats, rye, wheat and field peas with good success here. The birds (and pigs) will eat it right off the stem or ground. It's a fun way to keep your birds entertained... but by far, they enjoyed the field peas most.
  10. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    Chickens do consume and utilize grass as a food, though. If they didn't, the large amounts of grass and other plant leaves they eat every day would either be stuck in their crops or come out the other end undigested. This doesn't happen, at least not in a healthy chicken.

    There are a lot of different processes that various species use to utilize feed. I'm not sure which ones are used by all the different species and what the technical terms are for each function. I do know that plants are utilized by chickens as food.

    Pastured chickens that are consuming less feed than confined chickens, but are still putting on weight or producing eggs, are definitely utilizing their pasture as food.

    Edited to add that it's correct that there are two different types of foraging mixes that you can buy, to use as food for chickens. Some are meant to go to seed and the seed is eaten as food. Plants like millet, sunflower and flax would be in this category. Some are meant to be eaten as a green feed, where the leaves are eaten. Plants like clover, alfalfa, spinach, kale and chard are in this category.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2008

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