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Chicken yard and feeding them with permaculture methods instead of buying

 
Teretta Owen
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I am interested in learning more about how to feed my chickens in a SHTF scenario. How can I feed my chickens if I can't go to the feed store and buy feed?
Does anyone have any ideas for me. I am wanting to have a lot of mulch dropped in my field that they free range in.
Do you think it would be beneficial to put a lot of hay on the ground in the chicken yard? Right now it is dirt and I wonder if I put hay down it will bring bugs and
such that they can dig through and eat.
Thanks for any advice.
Teretta
 
Eric Bee
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If you want your chickens to feed themselves, open the gate.
 
Susan Wakeman
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Location: Lake Geneva, Switzerland, Europe
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Check out what Justin Rhodes has to say on the subject. (Youtube or abundantpermaculture.com)
 
Bill Erickson
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Good advice from Susan.

He loves to free range his chickens on mulch, gardens and the like.
 
Teretta Owen
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My chickens have an acre field to forage but they stay in the chicken yard which is all dirt. I'm planning to put a bunch of hay on the ground in there.
 
Eric Bee
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If you want your chickens to forage you can't leave food in the yard. I've taken different approaches from mobile chicken coop to a feeding schedule -- if you only feed later in the day they should get into the habit of wandering and then the feed becomes just supplemental. Sometimes it comes down to breed. My Delawares are not nearly as prone to wander. They'll get up into the woods and along the road and that's about it. Rhode Island Reds were great that way and would make use of the whole farm, but of course there's a reason none of them are left
 
Teretta Owen
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part of the reason I'm sure is there are no trees in the field. I am wanting to put some out there, but that is an issue and I have seen a hawk flying over the field. I am also missing a couple guineas and I found the wings of a smaller chicken in the yard.
 
William Bronson
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If I had a chicken yard,instead of the coop/run I have,I would probably lay down compostables and cover them with boards.
Flip them for chicken treats in the firm of bugs.
My chickens follow me around the backyard and when I move a bucket,barrel,bag etc.they go to town with gusto.
When I dig in the yard,they get right in the way, looking for bugs.
Their coopNrun is filled with layers of leaves, soil, kitchen scraps and other compost. They eat greens that I toss in the coopenrun but rarely eat them from the yard.
I bury what they don't eat in the deep bedding,with any luck bugs will get to these kitchen scraps, and the chickens will get to the bugs.
 
Jeff Wesolowski
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Location: nw ohio
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Why are we so hung up on chickens? What about ducks and geese?  Geese are pure herbivores and can live nicely on pasture.  Ducks scratch less and forage pretty good too. Chickens should have a good supply of greens, clover and comfrey come to mind. if SHTF, you'll need more space and less birds, my 2 cents.
 
Lindsey Jane
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Location: Kitsap Penninsula, WA
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I often think about this topic myself! Usually when I'm returning from the feed store with a trunk full of feed and a lighter wallet.

I love the idea of boards or hay flakes laying around for the bug production. It's a great idea and one we use on our small farm with great success. But we also live in the maritime NW and it is soggy most of the year so we are never hard up for slugs, snails, and all manner of creepy crawlies.

We also keep mealworms for protein production. I would like to think I could keep a mealworm population going even in a SHTF scenario. They are low maintenence and substrate is easy to come by if our thinking is flexible.

I also forage A LOT of chicken roughage. I have been known to stop on the side of the road and fill up one of my many bags with dandelion, cress, huckleberry boughs when they are fruit heavy, etc.

I think insects give more bang for our "buck" so anything you can do to keep them coming is good.

Also, and if you have enough space, setting up a raw food maggot production area is a great way to give them extra protein without that much effort. And, of course, if you can stand the "ew" factor.

I don't like to free range our hens too much because they like to lay eggs in our woods instead of their amazing little egg boxes, so keeping them sequestered is a must. Kind of an interesting balance - keeping them cooped up for the eggs while still feeding them while weaning off the feed store. Definitely brings our creativity out!

Also - I've had ducks (indian runners) and agree with anyone who suggests getting them. I loved having them and will have them again in the future. Excellent foragers, easy on the garden, low feed to egg ratio, and very accommodating to all manner of feed. Indian runners in particular are very adaptable and are also hilarious to have around! Took care of my slug problem like no one's business. LOVED them.

Good Luck!!
 
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The stocking-stuffer that plants a forest:
FoodForestCardGame.com
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