gardening in chicken/turkey runs - need advice

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Poultra, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Poultra

    Poultra Out Of The Brooder

    97
    1
    41
    May 26, 2008
    Hello, all! I tried to search through past threads to see if anyone else has done this and didn't come up with anything. I would like to build portable pens for my chickens and turkeys this year and move them out of their current areas for the year. The yards have become nasty, muddy, yucky areas and that can't continue. I was thinking that I could grow corn and other things in those areas for the season. I'm choosing corn because it's a heavy nitrogen feeder and that since it grows tall, there won't be any (or minimal) splashing from the soil. Is there anything else that you can suggest would be good to grow in these areas? Each area is approximately 500 sq ft. Do you think sunflowers would be ok? I suppose I could do vining cukes - that would be a lot of pickles! Should I plant winter wheat or some other cover crop in the fall? I'm in NY, btw, if that helps.

    Thanks for any suggestions or advice in advance!
    Katie
     
  2. Nevada Sun

    Nevada Sun Out Of The Brooder

    74
    0
    39
    Sep 10, 2012
    Howden, Manitoba, Canada
    Wow that''s sounds neat,, I will be attempting a garden in the Chicken run this year.. 1st spring with them... so I guess separating them from the Garden attempt is first.. Can't wait to read what everyone says for you..
     
  3. Poultra

    Poultra Out Of The Brooder

    97
    1
    41
    May 26, 2008
    Thanks, Nevada Sun, and I hope your garden attempt is successful!

    I found some more information that might be useful to others starting with Pat's write-up on muddy runs:
    https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/how-to-fix-a-muddy-run-chicken-coop

    and this one which covers several issues with chickens/gardening/soil:
    http://forums.gardenweb.com/forums/load/okgard/msg070733582034.html

    So, I'm thinking that for my own areas, I'm going to have to add organic matter and perhaps find some worm castings or other means (compost tea/brew?) of adding microbials back into the soil. I have already put down pine shavings and hay in the turkey's area and will have to add more. The chickens are divas - they don't do snow and won't come out of their coop this time of year, so not a problem at the moment. I'm looking forward to spring and making this work.
     
  4. applegal

    applegal Chillin' With My Peeps

    102
    7
    83
    Dec 30, 2011
    Cover crop...chickens love clover. What about some pumpkins or winter squash in with the corn? Maybe some runner beans to climb up the corn? The whole 3 sisters thing :) Just a thought.
    I planted sunflowers in the chicken yard last summer and then cut the seed heads and gave it to the girls. It was a big hit! This year I'm going to plant some sweet corn. My husband thinks it's for him! HA... The girls love will love it.
    Oh.. I got a book last summer ... Free Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom. It has great photos, ideas, and plant lists. Might be worth checking out at the library.
     
  5. fowlsessed

    fowlsessed Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,532
    49
    166
    Nov 16, 2011
    east Tennessee
    My chicken plant list for the year is, corn, hulless oats, milo, amaranth, pumpkins, sunflowers, jerusalem artichokes and mangles. I would also grow climbing tomatoes, cucumbers and zuchini on the fence. No beans, they're toxic to the birds (raw). Peas and lentils are fine. Just let the birds do the harvesting and enjoy the money saved in feed.
     
  6. applegal

    applegal Chillin' With My Peeps

    102
    7
    83
    Dec 30, 2011
    Do you have to do anything special with Jerusalem artichokes for the chickens?
     
  7. fowlsessed

    fowlsessed Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,532
    49
    166
    Nov 16, 2011
    east Tennessee
    Nothing special needs to be done to them that I've /heard/read of. And you can even let them 'harvest' them themselves. I've never grown all this before, this is all of what I'm going to try this year. All I've ever grown before specially for the birds was corn, B.O.S.S. and some common garden produce.
     
  8. applegal

    applegal Chillin' With My Peeps

    102
    7
    83
    Dec 30, 2011
    Very cool, chickens harvesting the roots.. sound like self serve produce. The plants are gorgeous too. Win win!
     
  9. Poultra

    Poultra Out Of The Brooder

    97
    1
    41
    May 26, 2008
    Applegal - I am thinking of trying to under seed the corn with white clover. I got some last year from the local feed store but time got away from me last season and so I never got to it when it needed to be done. (Clover needs to be seeded when the corn is at the 2-4 leaf stage.) And thanks for the book reference - I will have to try to find a copy. I had watermelon spreading thru my corn patch last year - harvesting corn was a bit tricky. Several years ago I tried growing birdhouse gourds in a patch right next to a patch of Indian corn - they pulled the corn down.

    My biggest concerns at the moment is resurrecting the soil after the birds have been on there for the last 5 years and food safety (soil splashing nasties, etc., so definitely no root crops in those areas). I'm hoping that by the end of the month, the weather is cooperative enough for me to slap a portable pen together to get the turkeys out of their area. And then planting time is just around the corner - woo-hoo!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by