What would you put in your garden for poultry?

BReeder!

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Anybody want to tell me more about chickweed and and other ground cover that chickens can eat? I'm thinking about planting these things in my run under a wire screen. I don't want to plant just grass and most ground cover is more shade tolerant which is important for me since the run is quite shaded with a 6ft fence on the east side and the coop/shed on the west side, plus the 6ft picket fence on the south side (at least the pickets are spaced out on that fence...).
 

Fluffyflufffluff

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We currently have chickens (8), turkeys (2), ducks (4) and quail (lots!). Although it's the dead of winter here in Illinois this time of year, Spring is not very far off. We will be prepping the garden in late March and starting to plant in mid/late April. We like to grow all sorts of vegetables, leafy greens and herbs. If I can keep the weeds down this year, we could be eating form the garden from late Summer to the start of winter, and possible longer if we have a surplus to can or freeze for the winter months. After all, our garden is ~1000 sqft (and I may decide to move the fence and till over more soil this year...). While the garden will hopefully feed us well, we'd like it to also supplement the feed for our poultry friends this year. What should we plant in the garden that chickens can eat?

So far here's the list of likely plants for the garden this year [and my thoughts on whether or not each is chicken friendly]:

Root vegetables:
- potatoes (2-3 varieties) [not for chickens]
- carrots [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]

Vegetables
- tomatoes (3-4 varieties) [not for chickens] I know they're fruit...
- hot peppers (2-3 varieties) [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- sweet peppers [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- sweet corn [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- pumpkins [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- zucchini [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- yellow squash [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- cucumbers (pickle and salad varieties) [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- winter squash (mixed variety) [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- cauliflower [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]

Leafy Greens and Herbs
- lettuce (2-3 varieties) [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- spinach [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- kale [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- parsley [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- oregano [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- basil [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- thyme [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- rosemary [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]
- dill [CHICKEN FRIENDLY]

Most of what we intend to plant is safe for the chickens to eat. I'm wonder though, what plants are beneficial and should be added? It wouldn't hurt to have healthier, happier chickens. Please share your thoughts and opinions.
Chickens eat garden pests, but it's not quite right to believe they're compatible with a vegetable garden. Chickens enjoy tender greens and will devastate beets, spinach, chards and even broccoli. They're always drawn to the red color and they're going to eat all the tomatoes they can touch.
 

igorsMistress

Crossing the road barefoot.
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Anybody want to tell me more about chickweed and and other ground cover that chickens can eat? I'm thinking about planting these things in my run under a wire screen. I don't want to plant just grass and most ground cover is more shade tolerant which is important for me since the run is quite shaded with a 6ft fence on the east side and the coop/shed on the west side, plus the 6ft picket fence on the south side (at least the pickets are spaced out on that fence...).
You can plant chickweed, grass, and yarrow under wire quite easily. Yarrow and chickweed both have medicinal qualities for humans too. Clover is another you can plant, but you'd have remove the frame for them to have access. My flock loves it.

ETA Forgot to mention you may need to do the same with the chickweed, remove the frame and plant another while your flock decimates the first patch.
 

BReeder!

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You can plant chickweed, grass, and yarrow under wire quite easily. Yarrow and chickweed both have medicinal qualities for humans too. Clover is another you can plant, but you'd have remove the frame for them to have access. My flock loves it.

ETA Forgot to mention you may need to do the same with the chickweed, remove the frame and plant another while your flock decimates the first patch.
Chickweed, yarrow and grass. Alright, that's a good start! What else can is good to toss in there? Especially shade loving plants. Any such thing as a fast growing shade lover?
 

BReeder!

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Chickweed, yarrow and grass. Alright, that's a good start! What else can is good to toss in there? Especially shade loving plants. Any such thing as a fast growing shade lover?
And Marigolds. I seen that @RoosterML :) Will marigolds do well in the shade though? I assumed they want sun since they flower (I feel like most flowering plants require a lot of sun with few exceptions).
 

paintedChix

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Dec 15, 2013
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I thought about using a cover crop. Our garden is not gigantic but is large enough to plant cover over in the Fall. The trouble I have with the idea of a cover crop though is I have raked the entire garden into hilled up rows. How am I supposed to mow down the cover crop then? I'd have to decide to flatten the garden landscape or knock the rows down before cover cropping and rake them back into shape in the Spring for planting. I do enjoy laboring in the garden but that's a LOT of labor.
Put a temporary fence around it & turn the chickens loose in it. Might take a few hours or a few days, but they will take care of the cover crop AND prep the ground for planting.
 

igorsMistress

Crossing the road barefoot.
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Chickweed, yarrow and grass. Alright, that's a good start! What else can is good to toss in there? Especially shade loving plants. Any such thing as a fast growing shade lover?
Uh, how fast? Probably not. I'm in the desert so I'm unsure what you can grow in your climate. You likely have a wider range of options than I do.
I have seeds already because I plan to have them in the garden. I wil try then in the run too. I will definitely be feeding spent flowers to the chickens when I'm pruning the garden.
My flock never thought much of marigolds. I grow them because I like them and they're safe in the compost.
 

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