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Winter Pasture for Poultry

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by HallFamilyFarm, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

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    Collins, Arkansas
    Winter Pasture for Poultry

    Jim A. Hall
    (Originally written for the 2010 APA Yearbook).

    Growing up on our family farm on the beautiful Lake Eufaula and North Canadian River in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, winter was always green and luscious! Folks would visit and ask, “What are those cows eating in all that snow?” Dad would answer, “Green grass.” Each fall we would broadcast a mixture of Elbon Rye and Hairy Vetch in our fields and pastures. Everywhere we could get the 8N Ford tractor between the trees, we would broadcast the seed. Dad would have me pull handfuls of green vines to feed the laying hens. The USDA has an extensive online publication on winter cover crops and a wise poultry breeder would read and study this information. We still plant Elbon Rye and Hairy Vetch each fall for a cover crop and for our livestock.

    Then one fall we discovered Kale. Our hens really loved the kale. Kale is very versatile. You can cook it like spinach. Eat it raw in salads. It has a very sweet taste. Kale should be planted in your garden or flower beds in late summer or early fall. Check with your county extension service as to the correct plating dates for your area. The nutritional value of Kale is amazing. Nutritiondata.com states in each 67g of Kale there is: 2.2g of Protein; 10302 IU 206% of Vitamin A; 80.4 mg or 134% of Vitamin C; 547 mcg or 684% of Vitamin K. Kale is high in calcium and nine other minerals. Kale has absolutely no cholesterol.

    Feeding either Kale or winter cover crops to your poultry will keep them healthier, happier and in better condition. Egg yolks will be richer. A healthy bird will have higher fertility. A healthy egg will have higher hatchability. A healthy bird has a better chance of bringing home those blue ribbons. But don’t take our word for it. Try feeding your birds green pasture this winter. Rake that snow back, take a pair of scissors and clip your poultry some healthy and tasty greens all winter long. Just remember, if using Kale, plant enough for both your birds and yourself.

    Footnotes:
    1http://www.sare.org/publications/covercrops/covercrops.pdf
    2 http://www.nutritiondata.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2461/2


    Note
    : We use a push mower with bagger to trim the winter pasture and feed our caged birds. This will lower the feed bill some and provide much needed greens for your birds that are caged. We also use the same method to feed greens through out the year to our caged birds.



    [​IMG]
    Elbon Rye from http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Elbon-Rye_vq380.htm
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2012
  2. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for that useful information. Good to know.
     
  3. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
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    Collins, Arkansas
    Folks, its Labor Day weekend and if you are plantng winter pasture, it needs to be done soon. This weekend if in the north. In a few weeks in the south.
     
  4. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
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    Collins, Arkansas
    Did something a bit different this season. Found 50# of wheat seed for just $9.50. So we will be using winter wheat instead of rye. Whatever is left over from broadcasting will be mixed with the laying pellets for feed.

    With it being so warm in the south this fall we still can seed. Lots of deer hunters are using wheat, so we were able to get a bargain. The rye seed is about $30 per 50#.
     
  5. Oregon Blues

    Oregon Blues Overrun With Chickens

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    Central Oregon
    Are you getting kale from under snow?

    We've already had a lot of weather in the teens and low 20's. There's not much left that's green. I've got 2 varieties of apple that are hanging in there and I'm getting them picked and fed as quickly as I can. The leaves on those trees froze weeks ago. All the other varieties of apples were ruined by freezing.
     
  6. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

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    Collins, Arkansas
    Quote:We are a lot more south than you are. No snow yet. But here the kale will stay green all winter.
     
  7. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 30, 2011
    Wyoming
    Man that would be great to be able to do...

    FWIW, the broadcast rate for rye and wheat is different, so $30/50lb. may actually be a better deal. It may not, but for those who are unfamiliar with buying seed, thought it may help em out a bit.

    Sounds like a spectacular place to live though... We are looking, -30 is just too hard to deal with anymore. My poor wife is just miserable in the winter.
     
  8. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
    52
    278
    Jan 25, 2010
    Collins, Arkansas
  9. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
    52
    278
    Jan 25, 2010
    Collins, Arkansas
    How many are starting to think of winter pasture? Be on the lookout for sales on last year winter pasture seeds. Ask your feed store if they have any left over that they w ill discount. The germination rate will drop about 5 or 10%, but still will make excellent poultry winter pasture.

    [​IMG]
    Elbon Rye from http://www.dirtdoctor.com/Elbon-Rye_vq380.htm
     
  10. HallFamilyFarm

    HallFamilyFarm PA ETL#195

    5,682
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    Jan 25, 2010
    Collins, Arkansas
    Here is another idea.... go today to your local feed/seed store and ask if they have any leftover winter pasture seed from last year. The germination rate will be a bit lower, but they should sell it for a discount.
     

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