Getting that dark orange yolk in the high desert?!

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by wetwetty, Sep 5, 2016.

  1. wetwetty

    wetwetty New Egg

    Sep 5, 2016
    Greetings, first time posting here. I have 14 hens that are about 5 months and started laying recently. I was wondering how to get that awesome orange yolk you often see with backyard chickens. Thing is, I live in the high desert of Oregon. No grass, real dusty, lot of lava rocks and not much vegetation. Probably why they decided to eat my entire garden since such slim pickings. Maybe put some sod down or try to grow some green grass in a certain area? I don't have irrigation rights, but I think we can irrigate up to a half acre without the rights. I was thinking I wouldn't have to buy as much feed if they have a little pasture. Any thoughts would be much appreciated as I anticipate those beautiful yolks. Also, are they more nutritious when darker like that?
  2. balloonflower

    balloonflower Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 25, 2016
    Look up building some grazing frames, and possibly something other than just green grass--oat, wheat, clover... Grass itself doesn't have much nutrition.

    As far as the yolk goes, there's a lot of rumor to what makes it. I have heard calendula or marigolds can help.
  3. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
    Sprouting fodder is a great supplement... you can sprout wheat, barley, rye and BOSS... marigolds can enhance the yolk color, but that's all it does... greens and bugs are the key to healthier, darker yolks...

    Also might want to look into mealworm farming... simple to do with a couple small, shoebox size totes...
  4. wetwetty

    wetwetty New Egg

    Sep 5, 2016
    Getting cold here already. Might try inside in a little green house or try these ideas in the spring time. Thanks folks !
  5. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2016
    I'd been looking into getting a bale of alfalfa and giving them a partial flake every so often to pick around in over the winter. While researching, I read that feeding alfalfa to hens results in deep yellow yolks. Note tons of it is supposedly not good for them.
  6. Alfalfa cubes, broccoli ...Pumpkin, kale, Purple cabbage, to name a few yolk improving treats..

    Good luck
  7. K&S_Farms_

    K&S_Farms_ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 31, 2010
    Weldon, ca
    I throw in a flake of hay every few days to my girls. Seems to be a good way to keep them busy too.....
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Excellent ideas posted by all. If I were faced by such conditions, I'd look at perhaps building a couple of grow frames, perhaps each 4 x 8 and covered with hardware cloth. Alternate between frames, while one frame is resting, do a lasagna compost in it, and then sow mixed greens. Use a combination of grasses and high nutrient greens (kale and a lot of the other asian greens/cole crops, legumes, a few marigolds and calendula) I also suggest that you look into using deep litter in your run. That will give them healthy gut flora that can only enhance their digestion. The grow frames would allow you to concentrate the nutrient and moisture in a specific area. Perhaps you could also look at options such as a rain barrel, collecting dew with a catchement system. You can grow a lot of greens year round (both for your own use and to feed your birds) with a simple cold frame. I built a cattle panel hoop green house, and have that planted for my own use. Have been harvesting salads for the past 10 days for my own use. Expect that to produce for me through mid November, then ramp back into production in late Feb. Need to pick up some more lumber to complete a hay bale cold frame to plant more greens that will be providing late winter salads for my family. I am in growing zone 4, 45.6 latitude. Check out Eliot Coleman's excellent books about year round gardening.

    If you want to give the flock full access to your grow frames for their digging pleasure, you could make some beds using hay bales to surround them. Then build up a lasagna bed inside the hay bale frame. Be sure to lightly mulch after you've seeded it. This will preserve moisture, and will also inoculate it with lots of weedy seeds. Keep it moistened and covered until the growth is well established. The hay bales will keep the chickens from scratching all of your compost out of the bed.

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