Developing the grass in your yard for increasing free ranging nutrition

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Beekissed, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It was suggested that I start a thread about this topic and see if anyone were interested. Anyone out there deliberately growing different types of grasses to amp up the nutritional value of their grasses for their free ranged flocks?

    Cornish Cross meat birds grazing white dutch clover...

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    Cornish Cross meat birds grazing WDC and native grasses...

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    Layer birds deep in the clover, tall fescue and other native grasses...

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    Here's a great site for finding out the merits of different types of grasses, their nutrient content, digestibility, etc.

    http://www.feedipedia.org/node/245
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
    2 people like this.
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    I've considered this. I did buy some clover seed and threw it out in the grass to try to increase the quantity of that. I don't know how successful it was - I suspect they ate it as fast as it came up. I also considered adding some brome to my grass since it makes such superior hay in these parts but was advised that brome tends to grow in clumps and that might not be suitable for a suburban backyard. I've since moved to the country and here...if its green its a lawn.
     
  3. LeslieDJoyce

    LeslieDJoyce Overrun With Chickens

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    Thanks BK!

    I've been on this topic lately in combination with plans to expand my orchard by planting diverse poultry-centric fruit and nut trees, bushes, etc.

    It would be great to have grass all four seasons and something dropping fruit and attracting bugs for as much of the year as possible. But not needing spray or fertilizer or irrigation.

    Maybe the topic will gain some traction with its own thread.

    I look forward to reading what ideas and experiences other people have.
     
  4. Ashdoes

    Ashdoes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a great deep litter going in the chickens actual run, I threw down clover and nothing ever came up. I think maybe it was just smothered. I also threw clover out in the yard, hoping at least something would come up, again, nothing. Then I got a grazing mix from the co-op in another town, and I think some of that came up.
    We have two acres of...weeds. Lush, green, bushy weeds. The chickens really love foraging every bit of it, but I really wish I had healthier options for them besides rag weed and whatever else is back there.
    We are building our Silkie Garden, and pulled every weed out of the 36x18 area, and I'm hoping I can grow my meadow grass and clover mix. I think it'll fair better since the Silkies are much easier on the ground than LF.
    I really think my lack of success has come from the fact that we're new to this property, and I'm learning from scratch how to grow things here. And I guess clover could pop up anytime, and I'll know where it's from.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    It helps to research native pasture grasses in your area and their relative merits, nutrition wise. What will grow well in one zone and soil, will not thrive well in others and this is where most people who want to improve their pastures get into trouble. If it doesn't thrive well in your area, then it's bound to get crowded out by the already established native grasses.

    For instance...here's a cool site for grasses found in Colorado. I spy several with very high protein and sugar content that are great for free ranging chickens.

    http://www.outsidepride.com/resources/states/colorado.html

    For Kansas....

    http://www.ipmcenters.org/cropprofiles/docs/KSpasture.html

    Here's a wonderful site that tells about a myriad of pasture grasses for all over America and what type they are, how to plant them, etc.

    http://www.baileyseed.com/infopasturegrasses.asp


    Both those first lists have Tall Fescue as a native grass and it has enormous nutritive value. My sheep got roly poly on it in the fall as the sugar content rises in it then and really sets them up for the winter months. It is one that I plant along with white dutch clover in my area....but there may be a better legume for your areas.

    It's hard to just throw seed down on existing, thriving native grasses and expect it can take hold. A good time to over seed a lawn is in the winter time...you can throw it right on top of the snow, as the snow acts as a great fertilizer. No one wants to till up their lawn and completely reseed new grasses, so over seeding in bare spots or in the winter when some grasses are dormant can help establish the new grasses in the early spring.

    Where I currently live the soil was very acidic, having been under pine forest many years ago, so getting clover to establish well here took spreading some pelleted lime over the place a couple of times. I believe it also helped the fruit trees to finally bear, so soil amendments of that nature have a wonderful application.

    Free ranging, itself, has an affect on the nature of the grasses as high nitrogen deposits are being spread all over the lawn daily but not in such high concentrate that it burns the plants. Some farmers feed grass seed directly to their livestock and let them "plant" the seed with its own little bit of fertilizer and in such ways slowly overseed their pasture in a more natural way.
     
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict


    You might want to build a grow frame in one end of the run, lace that litter up with some lime to sweeten the pH and then plant your clover and other grass seed. I think you'd have better luck with it growing that way and it also would have time to establish a good root system in the grow frames..that way it could be clipped and grow back again over and over by the chickens.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Ashdoes

    Ashdoes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Outsidepride.com is where I got my clover seeds. Really great website.
    The closed in run is actually huge, and I swear they barely spent two weeks total in it between Feb and October of this year. I just don't think the clover sprouted. I've read over and over to plant on top of the last snow of the season, and I missed that by two weeks this year. This Colorado weather is not easy to predict, so I'm having a tough time getting used to it. We lived on Little Rock afb, and I had the lawn lush and green the first nine months.
    I actually thought raking the deep litter out of the way, throwing down the seed and then covering it might help? It's like the chickens know when I'm doing something in there, and they spend the next week wrecking everything I did.
     
  8. JesNflock

    JesNflock Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Bee, I like this idea...I have mostly Bahia grass in my backyard right now (along with a touch of St. Augustine grass thrown in lol) I know a lot of people around here "plant" rye grass in their yards over the winter(it's the only time it can survive here) but I had heard that rye grass seeds aren't good for chickens to eat. Do you know anything about rye grass?
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

  10. JesNflock

    JesNflock Chillin' With My Peeps

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