I've got a pasture for chickens - layers - that I want to use as a feed suppliment (I know you can't feed them 100% pasture). I want to get the most nutritious plants possible and/or the buggiest plants possible, so I don't have to feed them as much. I think the water table is about 3 feet down. Oh, and this is in Southern California.
My first thought is a variety of low shrubs and low grasses. I figure drip to the shrubs would be pretty cool to increase production. Sunflowers (for the yummy seeds)...Indian Rice Grass?? Maybe some sort of quinoa/amaranth/sorghum, native buckwheat??, Something like alfalfa but not as tall....what else??
John Polk wrote:You might also want to plant some mugwort ( Artemisia vulgaris).
Chicks love to eat it, it repels lice, and it is used as a culinary herb on (you guessed it) poultry.
A win/win for poultry owners.
EDITED to add:
It is a very hardy perennial, that thrives in poor, dry soils. Dried leaves are often used as a tea.
I just wanted to put it out there for anyone who may read this in the future because I know this is a fairly old thread.
I have mugwort in my yard unintentionally. I have been trying to kill it all summer long- pulling it by hand does not get rid of it. I've resorted to covering it with a tarp for WEEKS at a time and then pulling what remains. Even still, some of it is coming back, so I have to go back and re-pull it. It took over one of my flower beds in a matter of a year or two. I think I'm going to have to toss some of my creeping phlox because its all entangled with this stuff. I would avoid purposefully putting this stuff in your yard unless you can give a large area over to it... and then some.
I also have free-range chickens and they have never touched the stuff.