growing in the garden

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by dranefotie2, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. dranefotie2

    dranefotie2 New Egg

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    Dec 4, 2008
    reno, nevada
    new guy here...hello to everyone...

    i have a question about what kind of things i can grow in my garden this year to let my chickens graze on during the day...it will be seperate from my other garden which i do not want the chickens in...i have read a little about proso and did a search but i'm not convinced that's what i want to grow...

    i plan on having 10-20 chickens if that matters and my garden is actually quite big...were on almost an acre..

    is there other grains or veggies out there...i'm new to raising chickens this will be my first time so any input is greatly appreciated
     
  2. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they don't have access to grass, how about some greens, like kale, spinach, swiss chard, etc? I planted Dutch white clover in my pathways in my garden (green manure and mulch, and feels nice on bare feet....became chicken food, too) and some kale in the back that I left for the girls, and when I opened the gate in the fall, they ate it all. And they have access to a large grassy pasture, but they loved cleaning up my garden and digging it all in and de-bugging it for me for next year.
     
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    If you're trying to actually grow a garden to fruiting stage for the chickens, what ever you want to grow, fence it off and keep them out till they are at the stage you want to feed them to the birds as treats... else, they will eat all the seeds right up off the ground and scratch up the fresh dirt you put everything down on. I've got wooded and cleared acreage for birds to roam, but given the chance or a small gap through the fence, they'll spend the entire day uprooting and destroying the garden...

    I had 3 silkies make it into the front garden, and within an hour, stripped the leaves of a 10x10 patch of bok choi naked two weeks before I was going to harvest it!!! They didn't bother being good and digging up the 1000 other square feet of that particular plot, or even bother walking a few hundred meters to a perfectly full feed dish or harassing the cats for the cat food, no, they hit right where you didn't want them as if they were planning on it!!![​IMG]
     
  4. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

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    We don't let our flock free-range due to too many predators. Instead, I make hubby's/Skips day and only allow him to mow certain areas in the yard. He's not allowed to mow the Dandelion, Hen-bit, Chickweed or Plantain patches (field greens). Our 2 acres is an old cow pature and there's no lawn, so those greens are readily available pretty much year-round here.

    Dawn
     
  5. omelette'smom

    omelette'smom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
    My chickens free range and i do flower gardens! this is my first year with chickens and had no idea they would love everything that i planted! especially my hostas! good golly....that was depressing! right to the ground....just little nubs! all the leaves off my black eyed susans, etc! they love clover! that was their first "big kid" food! whatever you chose it needs to be a quick growing quick replenishing or reflowering.....broccoli maybe!
     
  6. Portia

    Portia Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 29, 2008
    South Central PA
    I second the post of Silkiechicken, if you are trying to grow a vegetable from seed they will mow it down in no time. In fact, whenever I plant anything new in my yard I put a cylinder of fencing around it until they have sufficiently sampled the leaves sticking through and it is no longer novel...otherwise they will all descend to pick and scratch until it is either defoliated or uprooted. It is novelty that they seem to love, that and anything annual that is tender. I'd heavily sow the equivalent of a hay field with a mixture of yummy things. If you don't have enough area that they won't immediately devastate everything, let them at it in sections and fence off the rest for rotational grazing. Of course, thats jmo. Good luck
     
  7. sred98

    sred98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 18, 2008
    Oklahoma
    As far as specific garden plants, mine loved tomatoes, peppers (sweet and hot), corn and woody okra. When I had okra that got too big, I'd break it open and they would chow down on the seeds inside! They couldn't get to the small okra pods, but I'm sure they would love those, too! [​IMG] They left the squash, zucchini, and green beans alone. They did like the chard I had in the front yard, too, but they were rarely out there. Only about 4 or 5 times all year.

    I never had a problemwith them eating my hostas. They would dig around in them for slugs, though. They did love the dandelions, too! LOL!

    Shelly
     
  8. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Welcome to BYC [​IMG]!!

    I grew crops to harvest for the chickens this year and, of course, they got a lot of the extras. The gardens are at a distance and, altho' we take tiny chicks out there in their pet carrier - that's just for fun [​IMG] and ends when they get a little too big to be easily managed.

    The chicks ate lettuce and that was the first food other than starter for them. However, they grew up and lost interest in lettuce. Maybe they are coming back around now.

    I grew and have grown sunflowers, foxtail millet and wheat. This year, I tried growing and harvesting field peas - that didn't work so well. Growing the peas amongst the millet and wheat suppressed the growth of both those crops. Then the pea seed had weevils which I discovered after harvest and after the bugs had hollowed out the seeds. Darn! I thought that peas would be a good choice but this was a real failure [​IMG].

    The black oil sunflowers (BOSS), millet and wheat did fine or would have done fine without the peas. The sunflowers grew as they always do, tall and then heavy with seeds. The gardener needs to pay attention to the wild birds - when they begin harvesting the seeds, it's time to get 'em before they are gone.

    That's even more true with the millet. Foxtail millet is what you get at the pet store as millet "sprays." The finches nearly stripped the plants bare in a few days a couple of years ago. Just watch this and cut them before there's much bird activity.

    Every one pretty much knows that BOSS is appreciated by chickens. But, I'm not completely sold on it. The kernels are very high in protein but I'm not cracking and separating out the hulls. When eaten together, the seeds amount to about 13% protein, I've read. That's really no higher than wheat.

    Millet fits in the protein range of corn, pretty much. That's okay and it is an easy crop to grow. You need to plant it about the same time as corn and it can be harvested quite early.

    Wheat is easy to grow and can be up to 14% protein but I'd like to find a real high protein variety. Harvesting wheat and millet couldn't be much easier. Then, all you need to do is throw it on a tarp, walk on it and toss the grain in the air a few times to allow the chaff to blow away. Of course, the questions are, "How much work do you want to do for a fairly low-price feed?" And, "How much valuable garden space are you willing to allocate to this feed?" I mean, you could grow something of greater value for people, sell it, and purchase the feed.

    Surplus produce - what I really learned this year is how much the chickens like beets and pumpkins. I knew that they liked zucchini but the pumpkins are a big hit [​IMG].

    Beets were pretty much ignored unless I microwaved them. Then, they were readily eaten. Maybe I'll grow some of the forage varieties in 'o9. I had intended to grow kale for the birds and forgot to plant it [​IMG].

    If you are planning on allowing the chickens to forage for themselves, you may want to plant annual forage crops especially for them. Sand Hill Preservation sells forage mixes. You could also plant wheat (they'd probably have to do a lot of jumping for the millet.[​IMG]).

    Steve
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008
  9. freemotion

    freemotion Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Also, don't forget to let people with gardens know you are willing to take their cast-offs for your chickens. Gardeners hate to throw anything away. You will get more gigantic zucchinis than you knew existed....but quietly throw everything you won't give to your chickens on a nice compost heap and smile and thank people for the produce. Keeps it coming that way. My girls love to pick at zucchini seeds.

    If you have the space, you can even freeze some stuff for the chickens.

    I have several boxes of little volunteer pumpkins in my basement that I got for free. I go through them once a week and take out any that have spots starting, and put them in a pot of water on the wood stove. My girls still have some pasture, so are not yet willing to do the work of eating raw pumpkins yet, but will inhale the cooked ones.

    Mangels (stock beets) are supposed to give the most pounds per acre of stock feed. We had a very wet year and my first attempt failed, but they shared the greens with the goats. I have enough seeds left to plant lots again next year. R. Shumway has the seeds. They should store well, too, in a cellar or a clamp. I have a good cellar so haven't tried a clamp, but would like to hear if anyone has had success with this method.
     
  10. digitS'

    digitS' Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I put carrots in what might be considered a clamp.

    Really, they are just "replanted" (with the parsnips and some other things) cheek-to-cheek in a hole. The soil is thrown back over them and the whole thing covered under a giant pile of leaves.

    I do this in the Fall after there has been a few hard frosts. One thing I'm hoping for is that the mice are finished causing trouble and aren't going to find my carrots. It has worked fine for a number of years. The carrots don't freeze and I can get to them thru the snow and leaves [​IMG].

    Steve
    edited to say, my basement has a cold room where I store the spuds. Dahlia roots and gladiolas go in peat moss and wood shavings. The carrots dry out down there, however. I could probably use wet sand down there but there's only so much I'm willing to carry up and down those stairs.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2008

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