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grow your own feed

 
monty ali
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I have a patch about 15 meters by 2 meters where i have planted some fruit trees, i was wondering if there is anything i can grow there that i can use as chicken feed?
the soil isn't fantastic there, it's very heavy clay and does get boggy in the winter (when it rains a lot) and it's in partial shade
 
Renate Howard
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Location: zone 6b
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I've read chickens will eat comfrey -mine don't know it!

They like lettuce and kale, also they'll eat sorrel to the ground. If you planted strawberries they'd eat the fruit and leaves (maybe too much). They'd like raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, etc. too, tho heavy clay might be too much for the blueberries. Dig wild blackberries, they'd probably grow there, they thrive on waste places.

Or you could just plant clover there - the chickens do eat a fair amount of it, especially in the early spring/late fall when there's not much else growing.
 
Meryt Helmer
Posts: 395
Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I used to sometimes take care of a landlords chickens and they loved comfrey. honestly loved pretty much everything leafy and green. They liked clover which could add nitrogen to the soil.
 
Landon Sunrich
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I'd probably mulch for insects personally. You could also stick in some mushroom logs and after a few years when they're spent let the bugs get to um. Chicken love bugs.
 
Landon Sunrich
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A stack of mushroom logs actually might be perfect to take up that boggy space during the wet season. Most stuff loves peat in my experience - you could definatly grow lettuce or some sort of amaranth on there (alright maybe not defiantly - but it'd be an easy shot)

Edit: and Peat will Crank out Nitrogen once it gets warm out. You could probably grow corn there if your climate was suited to it

Edit 2: I SWEAR I saw Peat mentioned next to the boggy bit in the first post - my apologies - but the info is relevant so I'll leave it be
 
Willie Shannon
Posts: 28
Location: Southeast TN
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http://www.betterhensandgardens.com/2011/05/11/growing-mangel-beets-for-chickens/

I've read a lot online about Mangel beets lately, if you have a root celler, a basement or a trash can buried in the ground you can harvest these and keep them all winter.

for summertime food, try getting manure from other local farmers and raising Black Soldier Flies, you can google Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL) as chicken food and you will get tons of hits. Chickens love them.
 
Zach Muller
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Location: NE Oklahoma zone 7a
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I am not sure of your location Monty, but for my chickens I am going to take a few local weedy annuals and encourage them in one of the chicken areas. So far I have mulberrys, black nightshade(Solanum nigrum), Cocculus carolinus and lambsquarters. I also seeded the area with red clover and will probably have plenty of dandelions and docks popping up once things get going. Along with that stuff I have planted spearmint, peppermint, and mugwort. Eventually when the mulberries grow up more, I will have full blown forest garden tailored for the chickens.
 
Renate Howard
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Willie,

How do you feed mangels to chickens? I grew them last year and they were large and hard. We cooked them (curiosity) and they were quite good, the kids and I decided we wanted them for us, LOL. Cooking and mashing beets every day for the chickens seems rather labor-intensive!
 
Dan Grubbs
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Location: northwest Missouri, USA
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I've read that squash/pumpkin is also a chicken favorite. Cutting the fruit in half and leaving out in the chicken area and they'll peck on it to their delight. Squash is good ground cover to supress weeds and retain moisture for something else to grow out there, such as corn (three sisters companion planting).
 
Landon Sunrich
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I've never met a grown chicken who wouldn't eat squash.
 
Willie Shannon
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Location: Southeast TN
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Renate Haeckler wrote:Willie,

How do you feed mangels to chickens? I grew them last year and they were large and hard. We cooked them (curiosity) and they were quite good, the kids and I decided we wanted them for us, LOL. Cooking and mashing beets every day for the chickens seems rather labor-intensive!


Slice em and put the discs of beet out with the chickens, it may take a few minutes to slice one up, but the original poster was looking for something to grow to supplement feed. A 20lb beet will go a long way towards feeding some chickens. I bet after harvesting you could immediately feed the greens to the chickens too, chickens seem to like normal beet greens and swiss chard readily.
 
Peter Ellis
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Location: Central New Jersey
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Monty, are you looking for something you can grow and let the chickens forage in the area, or are you looking for something you could grow in the area, harvest and take to the chickens?

I think it matters somewhat in terms of what to suggest.

Black soldier fly larvae make great food for chickens and convert all kinds of stuff into really good feed (for fish or chickens, probably work for any insectivorous critters, really). But, that doesn't really connect to the question of what to grow in your plot

Some choices are great if the birds are going to harvest for themselves, but might be a pain for a human to have to gather and take to the birds. Some choices are easier for human harvesting.
 
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