Choice of cover crop for chicken tillage?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by AxisOfBeagles, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. Apologies if this has been extensively covered before, but I've not found any revelations with my searches.

    I wish to use my flock to till in cover crops in the garden, in between garden crops. Our gardens are organized into 4x8 beds, each holding a different crop. At different times of the year, one crop finishes. Before we plant another crop, I want to cover crop that section with something that can then be tilled in by the chickens (in custom built portable garden enclosures for the birds).

    So here's what I want;
    * something that seeds and shoots fast - I want to turn over that garden section as fast as possible.
    * something that is irresistible to the birds so that they go after it vigorously
    * something that is nutritious to both soil and chickens.
    * something that doesn't subsequently turn into excessive, unwanted growth elsewhere in the garden (ie, adjacent beds).

    Obviously one size won't fit all - I'll need to rotate different covers at different times of year and for appropriate soil management.

    What cover crops have you found to be fast growing (can rotate back into garden product relatively quickly), nutritious, and that the chickens eagerly till?
  2. marktoo

    marktoo Songster

    Peaceful Valley carries what they call omega 3 chicken blend containing Buckwheat, several clovers, rye grass & maybe some other stuff. I planted some in a flat but haven't given it to the chickens yet. The clovers & the rye grass should do pretty good in the cool weather but the buckwheat likes the heat. Buckwheat grows pretty quick & the chickens seem to like it. Put the chickens (4) on a couple hundred square of it, they ate it down to the ground. Chickens are new to me & I'm also trying to work them into my gardening. Check the poisonous plant lists, some of these cover crops are not good for livestock. Some if not all of the vetches are bad for chickens so be careful.
  3. Thanks marktoo. It just so happens that I live right near PV.

    Ive seen mixed reviews of buckwheat in this forum - at least one suggested that it was unhealthy for the chooks. Have your chickens been eating it without issue?

    I was not aware that vetch was a problem - thanks for the heads up.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  4. marktoo

    marktoo Songster

    Yeah, I had read it can cause photosensitivity in some people & animals but I also read it was fine for chickens. Mine had no trouble with it. Buckwheat is in that omega 3 chicken blend & PV soil builder mix has vetch in it Mother Earth News has some articles on cover cropping for chickens.
  5. Again, many thanks.

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