What should I plant for a backyard "mini-pasture"?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jsFarmYard, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. jsFarmYard

    jsFarmYard Hatching

    Oct 15, 2010
    Long days and a dry yard made for a long, long summer last year with my three suburban hens (bored hens=noisy hens I discovered). I’m planning to plant a mini-pasture (I have no lawn) for them this year. I know that with all-day access they will destroy the “pasture” in short order so my plan is to have a fenced area of green growth and allow them in it for maybe a few hours a day. My question is what should I plant? Grains, legumes, a cover crop or plain old grass seed? I don’t want to install sod because of all the chemicals the sod producers use but I would like something fast growing and easy to grow. Any input is greatly appreciated. I live in the mild climate of Northern California and the “pasture” area is partly shaded. Thanks in advance.

  2. Ironmaiden

    Ironmaiden Chicken Maiden

    Jun 14, 2010
    I'd say go for a variety of drought tolerant plants that bear seed or fruit varying times of the year. That way they are always happy...more or less... Um, some legumes would be cool too. Maybe a seed bearing shrub or two? That help? Maybe you could contact your local county extension about ideas and what would be the best for your area. Good luck!
  3. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    I have two areas fenced in for this very reason. I use cheap bird seed that is mostly millet and sow it in both sides. Then I let them have at one side for a few hours a day after its established. The other side I let go to seed then let them in.
  4. HorizonSon

    HorizonSon Songster

    Oct 5, 2010
    Pacific NW
    A lot depends on your local climate... But... Here are some fast growing, hearty, plants that chickens like and are even good for them:

    Comfrey: plant with two foot centers from one to the next

    Chickweed: plant as a ground cover beneath the comfrey plants

    Duckweed: in a large bin or a "kiddy pool". Keep a wire cover over it; to protect it from your chickens, and your chickens from it.

    Fathead Minnows: keep them in the duckweed pond. They will eat all the mosquito larvae, a bit of the duckweed and be a great treat in the fall (after their Spring/Summer spawning)

    Black Soldier Flies (larvae): before you freak; do some research. 20 to one reduction of kitchen wastes; liquid runoff to fertilize the duckweed pond; self-harvesting larvae for feeding to adult flock.

    Buckwheat: actually NOT a cereal grain at all; grows very fast; all the plant is edible; easy to harvest; depending where you live, might get two crops a year. Very high in protein and non-fussy to grow.

    Clover (or anything else in the pea family): plants in the Pea Family are nitrogen fixing plants; meaning, they put much needed nitrogen INTO the ground, via the air.

    Sunflower: for their seeds. Will need rich soil; will need heads netted as the seeds start to develop

    Stinging nettle, other nettle, dandelion, and much much more....

  5. Carols Clucks

    Carols Clucks Songster

    Oct 13, 2010
    You might want to consider a couple of fruit trees that are good in your area. Our hens spend the middle part of the day enjoying the dirt baths under the safety of the tree cover.
  6. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Crowing

    May 8, 2007
    Plant some dark leafy greens, too.

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