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Cover crop for chicken run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cbrooks, May 13, 2016.

  1. cbrooks

    cbrooks New Egg

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    Hi all,
    Looking for some advice on what to plant in a section of our run. The run is a long, rectangular, fenced area. We rotate the chickens between 4 "paddocks" within the run each week. Three of the paddocks are grassy, one is a sad dirt area. It's a slope and only a few bushy weeds are currently growing there. The soil is good, though. We're getting ready to move the ladies from that paddock to the next on Sunday. Since they'll be off the paddock in question for the next three weeks we thought this would be a good time to tackle that area. We're putting a couple caged butterfly bush in the corner for some shade (it's pretty sunny) but we need some erosion control that's chicken friendly. What kind of grass/plant/cover crop/ground cover do you recommend? I'd like something that reseeds/spreads. Thanks, in advance, for your help!
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  2. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Mint. Nice and evasive stuff that actually deters rodents.

    Had to move a garden this year due to mint. A section of runoff area here on the farm was reworked and a lot of really fertile soil moved to garden. Well, that did it. In one summer the entire 3500 sqft area is choked in mint.
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  3. cbrooks

    cbrooks New Egg

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    Unfortunately, our girls won't touch mint, or any other aromatic herb for that matter! It would need to be something that covers the dirt but that chickens will eat...safely. I did see this online http://www.groworganic.com/omega-3-chicken-forage-blend-irrigated.html which is labeled as chicken forage seed. Not sure if anyone had luck growing & maintaining it?
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    I wouldn't think a chicken would eat it was just thinking of a nice ground cover plant that would last with bonus of rodent control.
     
  5. Rock Home Isle

    Rock Home Isle Chillin' With My Peeps

    No real indication as to the size of your paddock...so I'm going to assume "Sizable." So this may not be usable.

    I would suggest an Orchard Grass base mixed with some type of legume; like Chickpeas, Cowpeas, Lentils or even Common Vetch. Heck why not all of them...The more varied the planting the more varied the diet of the chickens as they graze in the paddock.
    Then...if the plots are large enough, think about putting in a small orchard in each paddock. The fruit that you don’t harvest will be greedily picked up by the flock, and the insects that are attracted to the downed fruit….really make chickens Happy Happy Happy. The orchard provides nice shade for the birds and will reduce watering requirements during the heat of summer.
    Harvesting the Orchard, you could make and freeze cider. Then with the leftover residues from making cider, feed it to the meat birds during the last few weeks before harvest...best tasting chicken ever.

    Or just feed it to the chickens as well.
    That was fun...[​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 13, 2016
  6. potato chip

    potato chip Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

    Aren't they mutually exclusive? My chickens decimate anything they like to eat, choosing something they aren't that keen on might give it more of a chance to cover the dirt? My "go to" groundcover is oregano, but if they don't like herbs they won't like that either. It has the same qualities as mint, grows easily (here at least, what's your climate like?), covers dirt and holds it together, doesn't need watering after it's established.....
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

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    My Coop
     
  8. bullrunslabs

    bullrunslabs Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have been having the same struggle/debate myself. I have been researching a lot on chicken forage seed mixes and most of them call for various rye, alfalfa, various clovers, flax, legumes, millet... Maybe a mix of those types of things? Also I am going to make wired frames and do it in sections. I also transplant clumps of grass from other areas where I do not want it into my run. That is where most of my grass has come from as before the chickens it was a HUGE blackberry patch, and cleaning it out, took all the vegetation with it. I think it is the only way that the roots will really be able to establish without the flock destroying them. Best of luck!
     

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