Cover crop for free ranging

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by SamT, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. SamT

    SamT New Egg

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    Nov 3, 2015
    Haskell, Tx
    Guys, i tilled my garden under early, we had a baby and it got neglected! Anyways i was fixing to plant some wheat for a cover crop, mainly to build a thatch layer for weed control next spring. I thought Id ask if wheat or some other small grain or even a mustard or radish would be a better choice for the chickens? What might they prefer to maybe nibble on or scavenge in? Ill kill it off before time to plant the garden. They are on full unlimited feed, so whatever they find in the garden is just for pleasure.
     
  2. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Northern Colorado
    What zone are you in?

    What are your needs? Ie, do you want cover crop, ground cover, or green manure?

    :D this is my favorite subject lol ;)

    Clovers are excellent; hardy, great protein, nitrogen fixers for soil, green manure for tilling under for a garden.

    Field peas are great chicken snacking, fast growing, easy to get rid of but create a nice mat.

    Wheat is great feed choice for chickens but will self sow if it goes to seed and can create a weed in itself ;)

    Here's an awesome site to get seed, and TONS of options, but this one has a very nice mix, just for chooks :)


    http://www.groworganic.com/omega-3-chicken-forage-blend-irrigated.html
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  3. SamT

    SamT New Egg

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    Nov 3, 2015
    Haskell, Tx
    I live in central texas, so its warm enough to establish about anything right now. I work at the fertilizer dealer and ive been moving my coop around the garden. so i dont need the green manure.
    I mainly wanted a thick groundcover so i could "strip till" and plant my garden next spring to help with weed control. I will roundup it before it seeds out. But thought if my chickens like something better than wheat i may go for it. Maybe some tillage radish to help with compaction?
     
  4. shortgrass

    shortgrass Overrun With Chickens

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    Radishes would be a great option for that. I had pod radishes that I used this spring as weed deterrent, then I pulled them as needed to plant new crops. The nice thing about those is the chickens LIVED the tops, and if they got big enough, they turned into huge bushes with delicious pods.

    That and the bonus of not needing round up. I have to speak up about the round up, as I've spent the better part of 20 years detoxifying my family's ranch from 3 generations of damage from it. There are better options than round up, especially if you're feeding animals or yourself off if this soil.

    Ok, that said ;)

    Tilling under is an option, but of you want something quick and easy that won't come back as a weed, the radishes, peas, and rye or wheat are good choices. The wheat and rye can just be cut before setting seed and fed green to chickens; great fiber.

    You have a lot if options in a nice warm zone, lol, I have winter rye and Austrian peas up, but won't see much more than that until March :p
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    There's a forage type turnip called 7top. Small tuber but lots of foliage growth.
    Radish, turnips, beets, peas, buckwheat, annual rye are all things that won't have to be eradicated.

    I've been having problems with smartweed taking over the property. I plan on eradicating it in the spring with vinegar but in the meantime I wanted to plant something for the chickens that won't be around next year so rather than plant the clover and alfalfa I usually do, I've gone the annual rye, radish, turnip, pea route.
     
  6. SamT

    SamT New Egg

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    Nov 3, 2015
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    I sewed some triticale for my cover crop, in my experince its alot more palatable for cattle so maybe the chickens will like it. Anyways my feet wont get muddy all winter. I havent found a reasonable priced source for any raddishes and stuff.
     
  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I get most of my seeds from Hummert, International. They deal with small packets but also wholesale large quantities. I usually buy in pound to 10 pound bags depending on the size of the seed.

    I'm fortunate to have a retail outlet about 20 minutes from my house so they'll order whatever I want and I don't have to pay shipping.

    https://www.hummert.com/product-list?c=90A&cn=Wild+Game+Plots

    Not everything they carry shows up online for some reason.
    You could call them and ask about the 7-top turnip. Just tell them it is for animal forage and they may be able to find it.
    Ask for a catalog too.
    https://www.hummert.com/browse
     

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