1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Setting up a chicken paddock garden system? ISO plant ideas and other insight

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by cassmama, Jan 15, 2014.

  1. cassmama

    cassmama Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 14, 2014
    [​IMG]

    So we have a few Ameraucanas and are going to be getting some Orpingtons soon to breed for our family's meat. In order to keep feed costs down we have decided to set up their yard as a paddock system where we will have four sections that we rotate them through weekly. My idea is to use one of the four sections for our familyc's veggie garden that year while roating them through the other three until we arent using it anymore, then the following year use a different section for the garden, etc. For this reason, we will want to keep most of the space able to be tilled and planted every few years, so big perennials like shrubs and trees etc will need to go around the edges. What do you all think of this plan? Not sure if it worked, but im trying to attach a quick sketch of my plqn. The center square is the coop, the purple along the top is an existing blackberry patch that spills over into the space, the big orange squares are where id put some raised beds, and the green dot is an existing small young tree thqt we may or may not keep (i believe it is japanese weeping willow?). Please let me know some ideas for plants, both prenniel and annual. So far we would like to do plum trees, maybe a mulberry tree, and probably some grasses like alfalfa etc. We definitely want plants that will provide a balanced diet for the chickens as well as provide food for our family. Any other ideas? Please tell us what purpose it serves also (ei good source of protein, cover from birds of prey, etc). Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014
  2. cassmama

    cassmama Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 14, 2014
    Just to be more specific, we have two Ameraucana hens, one Ameraucana rooster, two ducks who most likely will get eaten, and we plan to get roughly a dozen Orpington chicks. We will keep one roo and a couple of the most broody laying hens to start a meat flock with. Hubs thunks the total space is about 80'x60' so each paddock would be about 40'x30'. This should be plenty of space for them right? How many chickens total do you think we could hatch and raise at atime is one section?
     
  3. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    I have tried, and was very interested in a rotating pasture system for my chickens.

    Things to note:

    - chickens will eat any and all leaf buds and newly emerging leaves, even if they are not that interested in mature leaves of that same plant.
    - chickens love apple leaves, even mature apple leaves
    - chickens love dust bathing on the root system of your young apple trees, service berries, etc. and this will kill the plant. Old established trees are safe with chickens, little new orchards are not.
    - chickens love all parts of raspberry plants, all leaves as well as all berries.
    - it is truly surprising how far a chicken neck can stretch when they are reaching through a fence to eat your pea plants.
    - maybe just remember that if a chicken can reach it, they will eat it.
    - the speed at which a flock of chickens can make a grass filled paddock pure dirt is amazing.

    OK, you can tell from the above that I did lots of stuff that didn't work.

    What did work:

    - have one sacrifice area run, that WILL be dirt, rotate through the other pens.
    - those grow frames that are mentioned on this site are wonderful. Pretty much a picture frame of 2x4s with wire on top. This way the chickens can only eat the grass that grows up and past the wire, but can't scratch at the roots and kill the plant.
    - giving the chickens free range of the garden right before you want to start planting seeds is heavenly! The eat all the weeds and grubs and fluff up the soil too. All you need to do is kick them out then rake the beds smooth! I LOVE it!
    - they love weeds, and it makes weeding the vegetable garden much more fun. They also like any of the spoiled stuff from the garden. (mushy tomatoes, overripe peas, slugs)

    Other tips and thoughts:
    - they will eat everything out of the garden including the entire plant with roots and bugs attached, except no raw potatoes, and they don't like onions.
    - that means that anything that grows well for you, and stores well for you, is great chicken food. Several people on this site grow melons for their chickens. Probably since they are so easy to store for long periods.
    - one lady where I live grows sorrel, which is high in vitamins and minerals. She grows it in a row outside of the chicken fence. Her chicken fence is goat fencing, so I think one by 2 inch openings. The chickens can stick their heads out of the fencing, and pick off bits of the sorrel leaves, but the roots are just out of reach, so the chickens can't kill the plants. (BUT, most places have predators that would kill chickens if they could stick their heads out the fence. However, this might work for you on an interior fence, not your exterior predator proof fence).
    - Even though my raspberries can't be anywhere the chickens can touch them, they grow very big and healthy where the chicken yard runoff can reach them.
    - If your chickens will play in your garden, grow organic.

    I think that is it :D
     
  4. cassmama

    cassmama Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 14, 2014
    Awesome thank you! Exactly the kinds of tips i was hoping for. Yes ive heard of the screens and we coukd easily make some. I love the idea of some raspberries just outside their fence too, maybe opposite the bkackberries. Any ideas on plantsl/trees they shouldnt eatk?
     
  5. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    they will eventually eat everything that they can reach, just some things they eat first.

    So, a tall tree, that they can't fly up into, would be OK, otherwise you will need to fence all of the trees/shrubs etc.
     
  6. cassmama

    cassmama Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 14, 2014
    Why would trees need to be fenced off? Just to keep them from flying off? Or to keep them from decimating the trees? i imagine I'll need to protect the trunks until they are well established
     
  7. Alaskan

    Alaskan The Frosted Flake

    with little trees they will dig around the roots and kill it that way

    they will also fly up into the tiny branches and maybe break them and definitely eat any tender little leaves. Though, my chickens liked my mature apple leaves too.

    So, you could let them play in a mature tree, especially if it is a tree whose leaves are not very tasty.

    so, yes, they will decimate little baby trees.
     
  8. kimberley848

    kimberley848 Out Of The Brooder

    34
    0
    22
    Jan 8, 2014
    So. Cal
    Cassmama - I'm doing the same thing, putting in a yard/run in the middle of my garden, and I'm already planning on the grow frames as well. No clue how well this will work out, but I'm hopeful, although my little garden is MUCH smaller than yours. My little coop is at the back of the garden, and plans are to let them "range" during the day in the garden. [​IMG]
     
  9. cassmama

    cassmama Out Of The Brooder

    14
    0
    22
    Jan 14, 2014
    Yea I figure i can let them into the planted veggie garden section when we are out there with them. i know for a fact they loved my spinach to death last yeat, literally! Maybe we cqn plan to plant a tree in the garden spot this year so it has that whole summer to grow then protect it somehow. or maybe we will put the pears just outside their yard to drop in fruit
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by