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Best birds for disturbing the ground

 
Posts: 225
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Hi everyone!

We've got about 12 chickens we got mostly for laying eggs in a movable chicken rickshaw with a solar electric fence. It's doing well! So far this year knock on wood we've not lost any birds to predators. Last year we lost about 20 or so to foxes and hawks. Anyhoo..

We've now got some lambs and we're looking to really improve our pastures so we're getting into this whole thing of wanting to disturb these old moss layered fields and get up some of that good old fat juicy healthy root grass going. Get some alfalfa and clove going strong. Scarifying the surface.. aerating etc.

The problem is, we can leave our bird flock in the same spot for a week and nobody will even dig up any of the grass. Looks like we got us some lazy chickens who've maybe spent too many generations getting easy pickings in a barn.

I read that maybe meat chickens are going to dig more - is that true? With the few options we got here in Estonia, we've been trying to pick new chickens that are grown outside and look like they dig a lot, but most places they've already just got them walking around in dirt and no grass. So ours tend to only dig in dirt if its already been disturbed and don't seem to want or know they can turn up the greenery. If you don't know breed names, are there things to look out for in a chicken that let you know if their type of chicken is a scratcher or not?

And besides chickens, are there other birds that are really great at fixing up a really old pasture?

Thanks,
Rob
 
gardener
Posts: 3054
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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One thing you can do is spread chicken feed where you want them to scratch
 
pollinator
Posts: 525
Location: Missouri Ozarks
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Disturbance is a factor of time and intensity, but is also influenced by what specifically you're intending to have disturbed. In general, though, more birds and/or more time will result in more disturbance.

I agree with the above--spread whole grains to encourage the birds to scratch (they call them "scratch grains" for a reason).

Ducks don't scratch, but they grow quickly, tramp down vegetation, and deposit prodigious amounts of manure, the latter two of which ought to help with improving ground.
 
pollinator
Posts: 11797
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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In my experience breeds with feathered feet don't dig nearly as much as clean-legged breeds.  I think my best foragers have been Black Australorps.

 
Rob Irish
Posts: 225
Location: Estonia, Zone 5/6
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Thank you very much, all. They do tend to scratch more when looking for the grains.

We have ducks as well and that is very true they dump great amounts of manure. I'll keep an eye out for those Black Australorps. Cheers!
 
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