• Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

Foraging for your chicken

 
Aaron Festa
Posts: 149
Location: Connecticut
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Considering adding backyard chickens. There have been many posts on feed. I plan on only keeping 3-4 egg layers. But I'm considering foraging for my chickens while I'm on my walks or hikes. Does anyone have experience feeding chickens things like autumn olive, sumac berries or other types of wildlife food? I could easily find edible plants and nuts on my walks but wondered if typical food eaten by birds were also acceptable for chickens. Thanks, Aaron
 
Erica Daly
Posts: 40
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Aaron,
I have been foraging for my chickens, bringing back all kinds of leaves, nuts and berries. I have had to teach them to eat lambs quarter, clover, etc (yes I take a bite and put the item in front of their beak), and once I do this, they are able to fend for themselves. If they don't like it, they just spit it out (like a toddler)! I have less than a tenth of an acre and have strategically let "weeds" grow for them to eat from and be less visible. "Click and Clack" especially like to cross the road to a neighbor that has not been able to tend to their yard to go cricket hunting!
 
Alder Burns
pollinator
Posts: 1331
Location: northern California
42
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chickens will happily eat a lot of things, including a wide assortment of fruits, seeds, and greens. To get eggs, though, they need protein. The most natural and perhaps foreageable source of this is insects, worms and other small live creatures. I think you will probably save a lot of time and have better results by trying to arrange it so that the chickens can run around and find these for themselves....
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
69
bee books chicken forest garden fungi trees
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My chickens love Autumn Olives
 
Natalie McVander
Posts: 63
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Wow. I've raised a lot of chickens and I've never foraged for them unless I was dead broke. LOL

I'm impressed!

Chickens eat grass, even. I would just go out and gather whatever is nearby and easy to obtain, throw it in the pen and see what they like.
 
Aaron Festa
Posts: 149
Location: Connecticut
1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Good to know. Need spring to jog my memory of what's nearby but how about pokeweed berries? They're everywhere.

Alder I don't think this will cost me much time since I usually go for a walk everyday. I plan on a run/tractor since I sit behind a desk for 9hrs/day Mon-fri. When I'm home I'll have them in a small paddock so a good foraging breed that can get insects would be another requirement.

Side note could/should I aerate the ground before I put them in a small paddock to increase chance of getting worms/insects? When I say aerate I mean take fork and just quickly poke some holes.
 
Natalie McVander
Posts: 63
5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
No, let them scratch. It will give them something to do instead of taking their work away from them.
They will love scratching through whatever you throw in, as well.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Pie
Posts: 820
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
89
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forage or my chickens all the time! But I live in Hawaii, so I can't really suggest what you should look for during your walks.

Today on my way back from town I stopped to pick up a bucket of fallen mangos, a bunch of damaged feral bananas, a half bucket of feral papayas, half bucket of guavas, and a bucket of noni leaves and fruits. I got home to find two loaves of slightly moldy bread by my gate that someone dropped off. This all gets added to the various assortment of things harvested from my own homestead and garden. And in the afternoons the hens forage for themselves in their pasture paddocks.

Between foraging, what I grow myself, and what neighbors drop off I buy very, very little commercial feed. Basically they just get commercial feed during a bad weather spell or when I'm away from the farm for a couple days. Plus I put a small amount of scratch in their pens in the evening to entice them back from their pastures so I can close them in for the night in order to have them lay their morning eggs where I can find them.
 
Natalie McVander
Posts: 63
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Su Ba, if that stuff was laying all over the ground where I am at, I'd forage for everything and everyone! LOL

That's wonderful!!!
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2310
77
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't forage for my chickens, I don't weed my garden, I prefer to think of it as a daily harvest of the natural bounty. I take a 3-gallon plastic bucket and a sharp trowel and fill it with dandelions, vetch, Carolina geranium, slugs from under the boards scattered about, prickly lettuce, a misplaced radish, trimmings off the chicory and collards, sowbugs from under a rock, and any other "weed" that doesn't belong as I walk along the hugelbeds. The chickens watch me with keen interest waiting for when I will dump the contents in their chicken tractor.
 
  • Post Reply
  • Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic