Looking for some advice and suggestions

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jasmer, Jan 26, 2013.

  1. jasmer

    jasmer Chirping

    Oct 15, 2012
    I've been doing more and more research on how and what to feed our livestock through the winter. We don't have livestock yet, we want to be prepared, but we'll probably start that this coming year and next year.

    Anyway we looked into Silage, which we are definitely going to do. But I read somewhere that this might not be the best choice for chickens because they can't digest a lot of the fiber or simply don't get proper nutrition from general pasture silage. I was hoping to do a pasture mixture of timothy grass, a few varieties of clover, and some other things. Toying with kale, buckwheat, chicory, millet, comfrey, spinach, barley, and adding whole corn. For starters, does anybody know if I can just indiscriminately plant all these things on our pasture to feed a couple goats, a couple sheep, maybe an alpaca, might free range a couple pigs.... Our chickens are all free range as well. But would this mixture work for silage? Would the chickens get good nutrition eating it through the winter when there's 3 feet of snow on the ground from December to March?

    Does anybody do the silage thing with their chickens? Would I do better to grow a separate plot of chicken feed? This is another thing I thought of, and would consist of sunflowers, peas, oats, corn, sorghum, millet, and flax, as well as feeding them raspberry leaves when I trim the plants, dried fruit because yum, pumpkin seeds, fish meal, various worms and maggots, etc.

    This sounds all varied and awesome to me but I'm way inexperienced. I honestly don't even know which of these plants are annuals and which are perennials. We have 5 acres of treed property with several large open areas perfect for pasture, and lots of new growth we want to thin out as well.

    I want to do deep litter in the chicken coop and run, we're going to rebuild it with a larger, covered run and mulch the living snot out of it. In there I can also farm earthworms and other tasty little bugs I imagine. We'll suspend the meat rabbit cages over the chicken run as well so their droppings can get composted in as well (unless anybody has experience working with deep litter rabbit colonies with success?).

    With the plants I mentioned earlier for the chickens, can they eat and utilize the entire plant? Could I make some chicken silage out of the whole plants, or should I just harvest the seeds and feed them that? Or should I just do sprouted fodder, mangels, and greenhouse lettuces through the winter?

    Ideally we would not buy livestock/flock feed at all. I have a feeling we don't have the acreage to support that idea with a handful of goats and sheep as well.

    I'm also curious if anybody knows if I can feed these things to ducks as well for winter feed? Ducks do sprouted greens too, right?

    I'm sorry if these are things that have been asked over and over and over again, I've been reading but I have all these questions so I thought I would consolidate them all to one post so I can keep track instead of losing track of several threads and having to ask again later when I can't find my posts lol. I'm kind of blonde.

    Anyway if anybody has some input on my ideas here and some critiques and suggestions I would absolutely love and appreciate it. :)

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