planted cover

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by centrarchid, Nov 28, 2010.

  1. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Starting next spring I will be establishing plantings of briars, grapes, osage orange, and possibly Russian and Autumn olives to provide cover from hawks and break line of sight from foxes. It will take years to get some cover patches up to working density. Existing cover patches in the form of multi-floral roses, wild rasberries, sweet sumac, golden rod and some sort of densely growing milkweed have worked great so far but patch locations not where bulk of my pasture is accessible for foraging with short retreat time back to cover. I want my birds to stay on my land as much as possible.

    Now that heavy hawk season passed, birds still using cover for a completely different reason, cover from wind. They stand among existing cover plants but always where sunlight can strike directly. A recent trip to North Carolina exposed me to a different way to setup grape arbors. They were trelised (sp?) to form an upside down box. The wiring itself provides some structural protection.

    What I do not know is what minimum diameter of cover patches should be and how far apart they can be and yet provide good protection. Chickens are not as fast as hawks but they can beat former to cover if enough lead time. I am probably going to use chickens present associations with cover to estimate distances between cover patches.
  2. jaj121159

    jaj121159 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 27, 2010
    Northeast Nebraska
    Be careful of Russian Olive. It is on the noxious weed watch list in Nebraska. I would check with your noxious weed folks in MO before planting something that may become illegal and have to be killed. Other than that your plan sounds good. Make sure you keep the area underneath the brush clear so you don't give cover to ground preditors.
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    I noticed that you have a woodlot in your signature. Osage orange I think is on the top of the BTU list!!!!

    In other words, firewood to really treasure!!!

    At my wood forum that I go to, people just rave about it.

    I think people used it to keep pigs in (hedgerows).
    see the last paragraph about BTUs if you wish

    Oh- and the fruit is reported to keep away bugs in your house. People put them in basements, etc.
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2010
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    We have both autumn and Russian olive naturalized in our county, some on adjacent properties. Does not appear as invasive here as other locations I have seen it in (i.e. southern Illinois in particular). Management using goats will control spread in pasture setting. Does not establish in woodland areas if canopy closed.

    No obvious restrictions evident on following website

    My philosophy regarding density of understory is that provides cover for chickens as well. Value as cover realized if chickens can fly into adjacent trees. My games and red jungle fowl can do it easily. My past semi-feral flocks appear to have required a mixture of such heavy understory cover and trees to persist under heavy predation. Long term project with one of my dominique lines is to restore that ability. Livestock guarding dogs will complement planted cover. The clear understory typical of orchards provides little or no protection from diurnal raptors.

    Osage-orange we used to have in hedge rows as well. We also had abundant bobwhite quail as well. Osage-orange provides awesome day roost habitat. Value of fruit as insect repellent will be considered.

    We used to keep pigs under shade of catalpa and mulberry trees. Chickens used both as roost but dogs required to keep owls from calling.

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