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Pasture seed mix for chickens and bees

 
Sk Patel
Posts: 8
Location: Austin, Texas (Zone 8b)
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We just moved to 7.5 acres in the Texas Hill Country (zone 8b), and looking to get started with sustainable agriculture. This used to be a horse property, so most of the area is already cleared.

We're starting out with bees and chickens, and longer term will be putting in swales and planting a food forest. Maybe even graduating to larger livestock at some point.

We'll be doing rotating paddocks with the chickens, and over time I'll be planting bee- and chicken-friendly trees and shrubs. But I'm also thinking about scattering a seed mixture of some sort on the paddocks as the chickens rotate out and leave freshly tilled and manured ground behind. And maybe I'll even let the chickens take a paddock down to almost dirt in the beginning to give the seeds a competitive advantage over the existing stuff.

So, what would make a good seed mix to scatter? I was thinking about seed mixes that would consist of as many dual-purpose plants that would provide forage the chickens and pollination for the bees. And ideally stack other functions like N-fixing and nutrient accumulation.

Alfalfa and clover come to mind immediately. What else would be good for this purpose? Its Texas, so are there any drought-tolerant perennial cereals that would be a good fit?

 
Tyler Ludens
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Howdy, neighbor!

Personally I'd go with natives, if possible. I've tried growing alfalfa and clover with no success.

For bees: http://www.seedsource.com/catalog/detail.asp?product_id=4505

For nitrogen and forage: http://www.seedsource.com/catalog/detail.asp?product_id=1813

If you haven't tried raising chickens in the Hill Country before, you should be aware of the massive predator pressure we have here with raccoons, foxes, ringtails,bobcats, enormous snakes, and raptors all eager for a chicken dinner. Housing needs to be super tight, and you might need to keep an eye out for hawks if you do pasture paddocks.
 
Sk Patel
Posts: 8
Location: Austin, Texas (Zone 8b)
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Howdy, neighbor!

Personally I'd go with natives, if possible. I've tried growing alfalfa and clover with no success.

For bees: http://www.seedsource.com/catalog/detail.asp?product_id=4505

For nitrogen and forage: http://www.seedsource.com/catalog/detail.asp?product_id=1813

If you haven't tried raising chickens in the Hill Country before, you should be aware of the massive predator pressure we have here with raccoons, foxes, ringtails,bobcats, enormous snakes, and raptors all eager for a chicken dinner. Housing needs to be super tight, and you might need to keep an eye out for hawks if you do pasture paddocks.


Well hey, neighbor!!

Those Native American seed mixes sure are convenient. Ask and ye shall receive!! There is a decent amount of overlap between the two mixes, but I'm guessing a 50/50 mix of both would be a good way to go. That way anything that is beneficial to both is doubled up. Does that sound about right?

I'm planning on an electric fence and building the "chicksaw" coop from Abundant Permaculture. I think the coop design is tight enough (or can be made tight enough), but I do wonder if the electric fence will be enough. All of the neighbors I've met so far have their chickens locked up in the chicken version of Ft Knox and never let them out to roam for fear of predators. I'm thinking I might as well give pastured paddocks a try and see what adjustments need to be made as it goes. Have you tried chickens on pastured paddocks out here?
 
Tyler Ludens
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I've not tried paddocks yet but plan to this year. The main threat I see with paddocks is from hawks, but with the Chickshaw inside the paddock, the chickens can run underneath if a hawk appears.

Regarding the seed mixes, if you can afford to plant more than the suggested amounts you'll have better success, in my experience. I wish the seeds weren't so painfully expensive! Make sure you seed after a patch of ground has been cleared by the chickens, because the natives start much more successfully on bare soil. And yes, I'd go with a 50/50 combination of those two mixes. If I get my paddocks up and running by Fall (the best planting time) maybe I'll try seeding those mixes myself. Up to now we've mostly planted wildflowers (success!) and some grasses (not so much success). The secret seems to be to have a nice bare patch of dirt, a lot of seeds, make sure they are raked and pressed into the soil surface, and plant in Fall. And if possible protect from deer (and sheep, in my case).

 
Sk Patel
Posts: 8
Location: Austin, Texas (Zone 8b)
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I've not tried paddocks yet but plan to this year. The main threat I see with paddocks is from hawks, but with the Chickshaw inside the paddock, the chickens can run underneath if a hawk appears.

Regarding the seed mixes, if you can afford to plant more than the suggested amounts you'll have better success, in my experience. I wish the seeds weren't so painfully expensive! Make sure you seed after a patch of ground has been cleared by the chickens, because the natives start much more successfully on bare soil. And yes, I'd go with a 50/50 combination of those two mixes. If I get my paddocks up and running by Fall (the best planting time) maybe I'll try seeding those mixes myself. Up to now we've mostly planted wildflowers (success!) and some grasses (not so much success). The secret seems to be to have a nice bare patch of dirt, a lot of seeds, make sure they are raked and pressed into the soil surface, and plant in Fall. And if possible protect from deer (and sheep, in my case).



Wow, those seed mixes are expensive. They might end up going in strategic places in paddocks at first, with a yearly budget to put down a little more each fall.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think it definitely makes sense to plant strategic patches rather than trying to spread a smaller amount of seed over a wide area. This way, the patches have a better chance of getting established, and then (we hope) they can spread.

 
James Everett
Posts: 69
Location: Gaines County, Texas South of Seminole, Tx zone 7b
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dog greening the desert trees
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I am thinking of getting me the Riparian Recovery Mix just to help break up this type of mess that is on my land. Took me like 2 and half hours just to get this little bit dug out.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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