Growing plants and shrubs for chickens to eat, etc.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by posey, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. posey

    posey Songster

    Jun 17, 2009
    Coastal NC
    We recently moved to a new home. Our chickens have about a 1/4 acre pasture to free range in. We want to plant some things that would be benefical for the chickens to peck at and to eat. We would probably need to plant it in specified beds because I don't think we would be able to grow cover crops because of the grass that is already established in the run.

    We also would like to plant some safe and beneficial shrubs for shade, cover, and that they could munch on too.
    What would be some of the best choices for us to plant. PS: we have acidic soil thanks to the line of very tall pine trees that goes along side of the run.

    Any help would is greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance,

  2. SunnyDawn

    SunnyDawn Sun Lovin' Lizard

    Sep 12, 2009
    Nor Cal
    Here's a couple of websites that might help...

    Here's what not to plant...

    I've found it's easier to plant things outside of their run area because they will pick it to death in no time and then it won't grow back (plants need some leaves left in tact for photosynthesis), then just take clippings and throw them in the pen. Or you might try hanging baskets that are a little too high for them to destroy but they could eat what hangs down when it gets long enough. I grow Virginia Creeper on the outside of our fence (the backyard fence since they have taken over my whole yard) but not sure if it will grow in acidic soil. [​IMG]
    I have the opposite problem here. [​IMG]
  3. posey

    posey Songster

    Jun 17, 2009
    Coastal NC
    Thank you Sunny Dawn:
    I tried the link but the page was empty.
    Could they have removed the content?

    Love your quote.
  4. SunnyDawn

    SunnyDawn Sun Lovin' Lizard

    Sep 12, 2009
    Nor Cal
    Quote:Thank you! You are the first person that has commented on my sig line.
    Not sure why the sites came up blank for you, I just clicked on them both and they came up fine. They might have been down temporarily. They did take a little bit to load.
    Good luck with your flock!
  5. becstalls

    becstalls In the Brooder

    May 22, 2010
    To agree with Sunny planting something in your run is useless. It will hardly make it out of the ground before they mow it over. I planted black oil sunflowers along the outside of the run. They offered some shade once they got high and then once they went to seed I would lop of a head and knock it in the run. Between those and the bruised tomatoes that we didn't eat I quickly learned where the term pecking order came from. They would beat each other up to get to that stuff.

    As far as the acidic soil you can treat with ground limestone. The brown powder or pellets wont burn your lawn or the animals feet. The white kind will so you have to be careful with that. Lime is only a neutralizer so it will only take you to a 7.0 ph. The brown just takes some time where as the white is instant. However under a pine tree you are fighting a loosing battle till you git rid of the trees. You can help matters by keeping all of the needles raked up and keep after with a light dusting of white lime, but that would be alot of work and I don't know if that would even do it.

    Good luck with that!!!!
  6. garnetmoth

    garnetmoth Hatching

    Jan 28, 2011
    Hello, just getting back into chickens ourselves, but what about mulberry bushes? has a nice little blurb
  7. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    I would agree that under most circumstances, planting something in the run is an exercise in futility. However, with some careful plant selection and protecting the plants you can grow things in the run. Lots of folks use wire (eg. hardware cloth) to surround the plants until they get large enough to keep the chickens from pecking the plant to death. Trees, especially fruit trees, can work well in a run. Mulberry trees are a favorite. I have grapevines that grow up through the center and cover my entire run, providing a constant source of green leaves throughout spring, summer and fall. Here is a list of plants that other BYCers have successfully grown in their chicken runs: I suspect a lot of the success has to do with the size of the run and the number of chickens in it and how often they get to free range. It's probably also easier to grow plants in the run in warmer climates.

    Hi garnetmoth! [​IMG] Yes, mulberry trees!

  8. PetRock

    PetRock Crowing

    Apr 28, 2010
    SF Bay Area, CA
    We built our run under one of our mulberry trees. Last year was a bumper year and that tree produced fruit for months. Our chickens loved the berries and kept the ground cleaned up. Happy chickens and happy chicken owners! [​IMG]
  9. new chick 203

    new chick 203 Songster

    Feb 8, 2010
    Ridgefield CT
  10. Weedchick

    Weedchick In the Brooder

    Nov 13, 2010
    N. Idaho
    Quote:Your soil may not necessarily be acidic just because you have pines. They usually prefer acidic soil but don'tmake the soil acidic.
    For instance, I live on the other side of the country in a pine forest, yet the soil here tends to be very neutral. So if you think your limited in what you can grow, have your soil tested by your county ag dept. It's usually not very expensive, and you may find you have a lot more options! [​IMG]
    ETA: Here's a link about it if you're interested
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2011

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