Favorite cover crop for garden & chickens

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Country Parson, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. Country Parson

    Country Parson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 1, 2010
    Bellefontaine, OH
    Do you have a favorite "dual purpose" cover crop? What I mean by this is a cover crop that (1) serves as a green manure for the garden as well as (2) a good source of Fall green feed for the chickens.

    I'm particularly looking for insights from Northern to mid-Northern gardeners/chicken-keepers.
  2. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2008
    Upstate NY
    The dual purpose idea, may not work for you.... The idea of the green manure is to till it under for it's nutrients. Anything you let the chickens at in the fall, will be gone, by spring! Maybe you could use a cover crop on half the area and plant the other half for the chickens? I have used winter rye and it was quite successful. I am in zone 4. It stayed green most of the winter and started growing fast, as soon as spring arrived. I am going to try clover this year, as a green manure, in the aisles of my garden and between my berry bushes. Hoping the bees will enjoy it. Good luck!
  3. UrbanGrower

    UrbanGrower Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 29, 2010
    West Jordan, UT
    I've also used Rye, they like it but they will tear it up. If you put down some of the plastic mesh they can't dig and that will give the rye more of a fighting chance. I'd say it really just depends on how much is available to them. I had (4) 12'x6' growing areas full of rye and they (12 hens) left a good majority of it, which is surviving the winter. They still nibble on it here and there but the Rye is tough. I've also noticed that once it gets to about 6" high they are less inclined to chow it down to the ground and it can spring back pretty easy. Obviously the more it regrows the more nutrients it's pulling from the soil.

    I also tried buckwheat and that didn't stand a chance.

    One note: I read that grasses aren't as easily digested by chickens, not sure on the validity, or if that applies to Rye.

    http://www.sandhillpreservation.com/catalog/specialty.html <-- this place has a mix that they say is specifically for chickens w/ a spring and fall selection, ready in 6 weeks. I have yet to try it.
  4. Azriel

    Azriel Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2010
    You may find that clover will take over your garden. It's hard to get rid of once you put it in, loves to be tilled and will spread even more after tilling. The chickens will love it, but even they will have a hard time killing it.
  5. Robo

    Robo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2010
  6. flyingtnh

    flyingtnh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 1, 2011
    New Hampshire
  7. hannakat

    hannakat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 5, 2010
    Beaver County, PA
    Interesting topic. DH planted winter rye but we can't keep the wild turkeys out. He bought another bag of seeds yesterday and is trying again. Gonna put the plastic owl in the garden too....don't know if turkeys care about an owl or not but we'll find out!

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by