What should I plant outside my run?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by sprouts, Dec 5, 2016.

  1. sprouts

    sprouts Just Hatched

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    I'm planning a new run in Western Washington. It'll be about 14' x 17' with a 25sqft coop inside for my five Easter Eggers. It'll be under the trees and pretty shady with dappled light. I know it's on the larger side but I'd rather they have the extra space then cramped.

    Inside of the coop we'll have a sand floor and outside in the run we'll strew hay and compost. They'll also have periodic access to the backyard where they can have their fill of fresh grass. The hay, compost and grass was inspired by this post: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/composting-with-chickens

    The fence will be 6' tall black chain link.

    I'm hoping to find hardy plants that we can grow outside the chain link that will have leaves, stems, fruits, or things like that, with some growing through the fence for the chickens to eat. In essence, a vertical grazing frame inspired by this post: http://www.thegardencoop.com/blog/2012/02/07/grazing-frames-backyard-chickens/

    Any recommendations? Again, it'll be Western Washington in mostly shade. I'm looking to avoid vines as I'm hoping the chain link will blend in (that's why we're getting black) and I don't wan't to draw attention to it.
     
  2. Harvest Mint

    Harvest Mint Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I love that idea. Hmm I would look at what plants you can get easy access to and then narrow that list by what is good to grow in Washington. Then narrow again by shade loving plants and then by what is ok for chickens. I would definitely look in herbs family. Many of those plants are perfectly safe from what I have read.

    Another thing would be so you want annuals or perineals
     
  3. KCFly

    KCFly Just Hatched

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    I've been thinking about this same thing.

    I have been looking into berry plants, with particular interest in native plants. So far, I am looking at possibly blue berries, blackberries and elderberry plants.

    Still need to determine if any of these pose a threat to the chickens.

    I'm looking forward to any other ideas.
     
  4. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I didn't plant them intentionally, but I'm in Wet Southern Oregon and we have wild blackberries everywhere. The side of my run that borders the neighbors is overgrown with blackberries and the chickens love it. They eat the berries in season, and the leaves the rest of the time. Now, they're blackberries so you'll have to keep them in check or they'll take over the house lol.
     
  5. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The tough part is your run is in the shade. If it gets any sun at all, you could try planting a border of various leafy vegetables. It's not really decorative as flowers would be, but as a general rule if you can eat it, so can the chickens. Ideally you'd want to plant the veggies about 6-12" from the edge of the run (depending on the plant, some can get quite large), and as they grow some of the leaves will grow towards the run and the chickens will pick at them. I'm doing things in reverse where I have the veggies inside the run, with a border of chicken wire, so the chickens put their beaks in and pick at whatever is growing out into the run.

    Popular choices with my chickens right now are kale, broccoli, chard, They even happily eat carrot greens (which leaves the carrots for me). I haven't yet planned out my spring/summer veggies so I'm sure they'll find new favorites then.

    I think my chickens would love me a lot if I'd plant my alpine strawberries closer to their run - mine really love those. The berries are small and most of the plants clump so you won't get runners everywhere.
     
  6. mobius

    mobius Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mulberry Bushes!

    Also my chickens love Mountain Ash berries and the tree sure is pretty in all seasons.

    Serviceberries? Chokecherries? Berries!
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Chicken Obsessed

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    Viburnums too! Any edible fruit type shrubs are great, and V. carlesii, V.burkwoodi, and V. juddi all have fragrant flowers. Also currants if they are legal where you live. Blueberries need acid soil, so test first. Mary
     

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