Gardening with your chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by SophieLain127, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. SophieLain127

    SophieLain127 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm planning on having a small to medium enclosure for my 4-6 hens. It will be very grassy to start. I have a few questions reguarding this.

    Should I keep it grass or till it up?
    could i plant something there like pumpkins/squash/melons/Sunflowers?
    If i do will my hens destroy them?
    Can I put down straw or hay if the area becomes to wet or muddy or will it be fine?
    Are there any plants chickens shouldn't eat?

    thanks for any advice
     
  2. BarkerChickens

    BarkerChickens Microbrewing Chickenologist

    Nov 25, 2007
    High Desert, CA
    Should I keep it grass or till it up? Up to you, but if it is long grass, trim it as long grass can lead to an impacted crop.

    could i plant something there like pumpkins/squash/melons/Sunflowers? I have not had problems with the chickens eating the above mentioned plants because the leaves are scratchy, so they stayed away from them. However, don't let the chickens get to them until they are established...they will east the sprouting seedlings.

    If i do will my hens destroy them? Depending on the plant, yes! My girls ate ALL of my broccoli, collards, and spinach. They try to eat as much of my grapes, blackberries, and strawberries as possible. They did leave my tomatoes, potatoes and peppers (bell and jalapeno) alone. A few strawberries they killed by scratching the dirt up and exposing the roots.

    Can I put down straw or hay if the area becomes to wet or muddy or will it be fine? If it becomes too muddy, your plants may drown. If it is just the moisture from watering the plants and it isn't excessive (such as drip or small sprayers) you should be fine. If it is runoff from elsewhere or some massive sprinkler that soaks everything (including walkways), you may want to design flowline channels that divert excess water out of the area. Wet hay or straw will just breed mildew and attract harmful bugs (at least in our area anyway). Which leads to a quick point I should make...these are based off our experience, we aren't farmers (though we wish we were!), just have a small backyard ranch.

    Are there any plants chickens shouldn't eat? Yes! Here's a quick list I found online.
    http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxic1.html
     
  3. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

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    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR
    Should I keep it grass or till it up?

    Keep the grass and they'll till it up for you.

    could i plant something there like pumpkins/squash/melons/Sunflowers?
    If i do will my hens destroy them?

    I plant stuff like that around the outside of their run or else they'll dig them up.

    Can I put down straw or hay if the area becomes to wet or muddy or will it be fine?

    I've used hay before but it can get nasty and needs to be removed. Right now, I'm adding massive amounts of dried leaves to their runs and it's really helping to keep the mud down with no smell. Later on we'll be adding play sand to help with drainage.

    Are there any plants chickens shouldn't eat?

    Here's a list of plants that are toxic:

    http://www.poultryhelp.com/toxicplants.html



    Hope this is some help!


    Dawn
     
  4. SophieLain127

    SophieLain127 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks everyone. I was planning on getting my chicks early summer so I should have plenty of time to hopefully get my hen house up and their run established. I'm going to be starting my melon/squash/sunflower seeds this weekend. I'm thinking of putting the sunflowers outside the run area because the get so big and when the seeds drop they will be able to be consumed. However the pumpkins/melons will be transplanted when they are decently big. I hope the chickens will have fun climbing and playing in them. Our family really doesn't grown any of our plants to eat so I wont really mind if the chickens tear them up.


    I really appriciate your help are there any plants or items the chickens will really enjoy?
     
  5. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

    3,367
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    Apr 16, 2007
    Evening Shade, AR

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