Need suggestions for chicken pasture (plants landscape ideas ect)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by SkyRoo, Apr 4, 2008.

  1. SkyRoo

    SkyRoo Out Of The Brooder

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    I am having problems finding info using search on-line….could really use some ideas, help, and experience of others.

    we only have small area of ½ acre dedicated to our chickens. We would like this year to landscape this more in tune with our flocks and a nice appearance.

    First off would be the many days of high winds. We are searching for suggestions of some good varieties of bushes/hedges/vines to block winds. Sun in the summer time.

    Suggestions…plants that chickens can nibble but not going to demolish.

    Then next would be suggestions of good pasture seeds to sow throughout the year for their ranging time. (I have fescue grass, alfalfa, and a dry land native mix) what would be a favorite of chickens and good nutrition and low-moderate water requirement…we haul in our water.

    If anyone has photos of their landscaping jobs for chicken pastures love to see

    Also would like to do some sort of shelter/decorative style but functional if predators (esp from the sky) come close while our flocks are free ranging they still have shelter in mid pasture. But not a simple wood box or coop. [​IMG] got plenty of that in the back of property line.

    Its all open and just about a perfect square we have to work with. (coops are along the back north and garden fenced off on the east side otherwise is empty) only other feature we have is a small hill.
     
  2. Dixiedoodle

    Dixiedoodle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    You might want to mention what zone your are in, it will help others with plants suggestions for your area..Since I am new to chickens-I am also interested..Dixie
     
  3. airmom1c05

    airmom1c05 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 3, 2008
    Raymond, Mississippi
  4. SkyRoo

    SkyRoo Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 6, 2008
    *blush* ops thank you...
    I was so worried about getting everything in my post. [​IMG] I sure missed the mark on that one. thank you
    we are central montana about 3b-4a zone lowest record would be -30ish (not common)
    usually teens-single digits with a few weeks of neg.

    I am so glad someone else is wondering about landscaping and ideas like this...not much on-line


    wow thank you for the sites I surly will look around on them.
    right non-toxic is first and foremost
    but I hope to have idea of a few that they will not demolish in a day. [​IMG]
    if possiable.
     
  5. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    Honeysuckle hedges provide good cover from raptors and are big enough that the birds can forage under the spread. You'll also have thousands of hummingbirds and some cedar waxwings.

    To grown honeysuckle hedge, find someone who will let you cut 1 foot sections of dormant branches (this is the perfect time of year), and simply stick them in the ground where you want the hedge. Remember this will be a wide hedge, so allow room. Be sure one bud notch is underground, they'll root the first year and look like a failure, but the next year the root system will be amazing!

    These hedges also shelter tiger swallowtail butterflies, and you can't hurt them by pruning. We have over 400 feet already and I plan to extend into a pasture we are not using so much, now.

    [​IMG]
     
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Plant some kind of wind-hardy evergreen or dense shrub for wind protection. Your choices are VERY limited in your climate (I'm sympathizing not criticizing, I'm in almost as cold and windy an area myself)(edited to add: like, USDA zone 3-4, with -20F every year) and especially so on a smallish plot of land. Basically you're looking at things like cedar/juniper, lilac, etc. If you have room for taller trees like spruces they will give you a larger protected area once they grow up. Unfortunately NONE of these things is going to provide much of a windbreak at ALL for at least several years EVEN IF you buy largeish expensivish plants. Consider putting up snow fence (yes, in summer even [​IMG]) to provide some degree of wind protection for a few yrs.

    As luck would have it I am writing an article about windbreaks and happen to have two websites on my desktop that can give you suggestions for relevant plants: http://www.mt.nrcs.usda.gov/technical/ecs/forestry/technotes/forestryMT17/ and http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/plantsci/trees/f1055w.htm . These are talking about Big Windbreaks but some information will be useful and the ND one has a good species list.

    Vine-wise, if you have a sturdy fence (e.g. chainlink w/posts set in concrete) you could try Clematis tangutica (not any other clematis species) or bittersweet, they *might* be hardy enough for you, both do quite well here even when very exposed.

    Anything non-woody that you plant for the chickens is likely to get et and/or scratched out of the ground by the chickens. "Landscaping" is probably not the most appropriate term for it [​IMG]

    Good luck,

    Pat
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2008
  7. SkyRoo

    SkyRoo Out Of The Brooder

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    wow thank you so very much

    Lynne I like the idea of the honeysuckle I will surly see what we can find this year maybe do a part of the fence line with honeysuckle.

    a wide hedge...how much room would you suggest from the fence?

    do you have a photo of your hedges on here somewhere? love to see.
    right I guess it all takes time to grow...


    oh great help and lots of ideas Pat thank you! yeap you understand.
    I wrote it all down see what we come up with this year.

    oh I did not think about clematis. why only tangutica? (cold hardiness?)

    thank you for the great links!

    Anything non-woody that you plant for the chickens is likely to get et and/or scratched out of the ground by the chickens. "Landscaping" is probably not the most appropriate term for it wink

    *laughs* yeap sure sounds and looks great in my mind...
    okay woody plants might be the direction we go...that makes sense.

    how about doing a center shelter-like thing with boulders, tree stumps, various bushes, tall decorative grasses, and maybe something like a rustic wooden fence (with climbing plant) well something like that to provide cover for this year in the middle of pasture? maybe wooden barrel on its side half buried in ground...would chickens use these sort of things for cover?
    any ideas?

    we have seen first large hawk yesterday and figured we best get something going in the center of pasture right away.

    we sure can wait for the wind block hedges to grow...thats no problem. (I like all the suggestions this is great thank you guys!) just need to figure something quick growing and functional for the center of pasture for this weekend.

    thank you guys​
     
  8. Dawn419

    Dawn419 Lost in the Woods

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    Since our yard is an old hayfield/cow pasture, I use alot of the "greens" that grow here as salad for our birds. They love dandelion leaves, wild violet leaves/flowers, chickweed and henbit. I also grow comfrey for them. I'm working on a field greens for chickens page at this time.

    Hope this is some help!

    Dawn
     
  9. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Quote:Yes, that mostly, plus it makes a far thicker tangle of vines than almost all other zone-3-or-4-hardy clematis do. It *really* gets big and messy. In a good way [​IMG]

    we sure can wait for the wind block hedges to grow...thats no problem. (I like all the suggestions this is great thank you guys!) just need to figure something quick growing and functional for the center of pasture for this weekend.
    thank you guys

    A picnic table is good for them to duck under. Of course it will get pooed on but you can wipe it off before you use it yourself [​IMG] Can you make a sort of teepee type thing out of branches? Or a couple big pieces of trellis lashed together in an A-frame sort of way?

    If you want woody plants for 'instant' effect I'd recommend going to the local nursery or garden center and just basically seeing what's the best deal for large size and good price, among things that will be reasonably hardy. It depends somewhat on your soil etc but you could think about things like ninebarks, lilacs, bridalwreath spirea (the vanhouttei kind), even small willows such as coyote willow as long as you're not near a septic field etc. Amur maple isnt the fastest grower but you might be able to afford a good-sized specimen and it is pretty hardy and spreading-shaped and doesn't get too huge. Chokecherries (regular, Schubert or Amur) are pretty fast-growing, though they are more trees than shrubs. Just see whatever's hardy enough that will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

    It's hard to predict what places will have or how it will be priced. A local nursery had some really nice lilacs, forget which cultivar, for $6.99 last year, when all other comparable lilacs they had were going for 2-3x that. There was *nothing* wrong with 'em, good roots and all, I think they just got a good deal on a whole lot of 'em or something.

    Good luck nad have fun,

    Pat​
     
  10. LynneP

    LynneP Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'll get a pic of the honeysuckle for you today- remember it's dormant. I might have a digital pic of it in summer, I'll check...should be 3-4' away from the fence which seems a lot but you'll see why in 4-5 years. The evergreen idea is good too, keep away from honeysuckle though, honeysuckle is a greedy plant and doesn't share well but it would be nice to have some evergreen closer to the coop for winter wind protection. I have interspersed some lilac with the honeysuckle, which works well and here are the butterflies that come to the hedges, along with hummingbirds. These two had hatched from the honeysuckle that had not yet bloomed but they moved to a rhododendron and other early plants for nectar.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2008

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