chicken-tolerant chicken plants?

Phoenixxx

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8 Years
Aug 8, 2012
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Boutilier's Point, Nova Scotia
I recently came across pyramid planters. While browsing designs yesterday, it hit me that they may be great in a chicken run! While my flock free-ranges most days, if I seperate any birds for selective breeding those ones will be living in lockdown. Totally not fair, and the run for that pen is plain old forest floor.

So, what kind of plants would be best to grow? Obviously the bottom level is gonna take the worst beating, so large, fast-growing plants for there, I guess? Also, the area does not get much sunshine, so plants that do well in the shade might also be best.

Thanks!
 

donrae

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I'm not aware of anything that will survive confined chickens. Even the highest levels on something like that would be decimated in a pretty short time.

Better idea is to plant greens, etc in a planter outside the birds' space and pick and feed them some daily.
 
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yyz0yyz0

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May 2, 2012
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That may depend on what you want to have plants in there for? Is it to provide shade or food for the birds?

If you are planting in a planter then you could always fence off the planter till the plants were big enough to survive the chickens then remove the fencing but again it depends on what the plants are for.
 

Phoenixxx

Songster
8 Years
Aug 8, 2012
725
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Boutilier's Point, Nova Scotia
That may depend on what you want to have plants in there for?  Is it to provide shade or food for the birds?

If you are planting in a planter then you could always fence off the planter till the plants were big enough to survive the chickens then remove the fencing but again it depends on what the plants are for.

It would be to provide healthy snacking in lieu of free-ranging. I expect if I get the numbers right and the plant types right that it should be sustainable. There will only be at the most 3 chickens in that pen at a time.
 

Phoenixxx

Songster
8 Years
Aug 8, 2012
725
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Boutilier's Point, Nova Scotia
I'm not aware of anything that will survive confined chickens. Even the highest levels on something like that would be decimated in a pretty short time.

Better idea is to plant greens, etc in a planter outside the birds' space and pick and feed them some daily.


Ha ha, those would get decimated by the free range birds! I'm also thinking about planting a nice, edible bush in there, too. Blueberry?
 

yyz0yyz0

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9 Years
May 2, 2012
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Ok, now that we know what you want them for that makes answers easier.

Some suggestions:

Put some grazing frames in your run. This can be as simple as a frame made of 2x4s that is covered on one side with HW cloth, you lay it in the run with the HW cloth side up and throw some grass/herb/grain seeds through the cloth. The seeds will sprout and grow up through the HW cloth, the chickens can eat the sprouts but not dig up the root cluster. When the growth starts to get old you can move the frame to a new location and throw in some fresh seed to start it all over again. Plus they will have a good time tearing up the old growth after you move the frame, plus some of the old growth might survive if there is enough other things for them to play with.

grow fodder for them: https://www.backyardchickens.com/t/713334/growing-fodder-for-chickens

Get several low planters like window boxes, plant them with grass/grains/herbs, let them get to a good height and put them in the run for a day or two. You may find a combination of number of planters and length of time in the run where you can just keep rotating different planters in and out of the run without them totally destroying them, probably not but you'll have to try to find out. These could also be covered with HW cloth like the grazing frames to protect the plant base.

Create a compost corner/bin in the run for them to dig through. I took some 2x12s and made a triangle shaped box in one corner of my run. I take finished compost and dump a load of it into this corner box and let them dig through it for several days then I remove and dump it in the garden, I assume they eat any bugs in it as well as any seeds they find that have survived the composting process. Lately I've been bringing home Prep cook scraps(fruit and veg peels, stems, seed cores, etc), I just dump this stuff into the compost corner and leave it for them. The eat all they want when first dumped then go back later as bigger/harder things break down. When I get too much of the bigger harder stuff left over I clean out this corner and throw it in the compost bin.

Grow cabbage and hang a head of it in the run for them to pick at, could keep them busy for hours.

I had a lot of mud when the snow started melting this year so I threw in a couple bales of straw I had to try and dry it out a little. With a good layer of straw or hay, I can throw a hand full of scratch in there and they will be digging through the straw for hours looking for the scratch. When the straw is all broken down into small pieces I then clean it out and use it as mulch in the garden and throw in a fresh bale or two. the only problem is I have is that my run is on a very slight hill, so every couple days I have to rake the straw from the downhill side to the uphill side. But I just make it into a pile when doing this and they go nuts breaking down the pile.
 

Phoenixxx

Songster
8 Years
Aug 8, 2012
725
216
212
Boutilier's Point, Nova Scotia
Those are some great ideas! I wonder if draping the planted pyramid in bird or fish netting might work the same as your hardware cloth idea... Okay, now the gears are really turning! The area in that particular run is not much, hence why the pyramid planter is so appealing as an idea. For lack of posts, I had to run the wire in such a way as to take advantage of trees for that purpose, so it wound up kind of oblong/diamond-shaped.

My whole coop structure is placed on a hill, so I know what you mean! I didn't realize when building that chickens like to level earth, lol! I'd like to set up a chicken-operated composting system in the main run but sourcing the food scraps isn't easy. The local grocery stores put all their scrap produce into big compactors in the middle of the night. I've yet to talk to the organic store and the local restaurants.
 

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