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Chicken fodder/forage success stories?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 55
Location: Western Oregon
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I am in the process of switching my chickens (layers) over from mostly store bought food to mostly live foods.  My test plots of chicken fodder last year were pretty successful, but also pretty small so I am majorly expanding.  I have sown a mix of field peas, grains, brassicas, and rape seed across several thousand square feet and am eagerly watching them grow into forage that my flock can self-harvest later this year.   I also have planted fruit trees and berry bushes and the chickens will get "leftovers" from these as well as weeds and excess from my annual veggie beds.  

I'm interested to know what other permies have done successfully to grow feed for their chickens or other poultry.  Although I am aware of sprouted seeds, etc. (and am doing some of that now while the field crops are growing out), I am most interested in hearing about forage/fodder you've intentionally planted and grown in the soil, and that chickens can harvest themselves.  Annuals and/or perennials.  

Also, I'd love to hear about any crops you have successfully grown and stored as winter feed.  I am in western Oregon, so will have only limited growth from late fall through early spring, and very little rain from mid-June to mid-September.  I will be trialing sunflowers, sorghum, and winter squash for storage crops this year.  

My long term plan is to keep a flock of about 50 layers, plus hatching and growing out chicks each spring.    Our property is several acres in total, but I am hoping I will be able to be 90%+ self sufficient with less than an acre devoted to the chickens.    The land I am working on is mostly pasture grass now, with few trees/shrubs, etc.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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Bryan Beck wrote:
I am in the process of switching my chickens (layers) over from mostly store bought food to mostly live foods.  My test plots of chicken fodder last year were pretty successful, but also pretty small so I am majorly expanding.  I have sown a mix of field peas, grains, brassicas, and rape seed across several thousand square feet and am eagerly watching them grow into forage that my flock can self-harvest later this year.   I also have planted fruit trees and berry bushes and the chickens will get "leftovers" from these as well as weeds and excess from my annual veggie beds.  

I'm interested to know what other permies have done successfully to grow feed for their chickens or other poultry.  Although I am aware of sprouted seeds, etc. (and am doing some of that now while the field crops are growing out), I am most interested in hearing about forage/fodder you've intentionally planted and grown in the soil, and that chickens can harvest themselves.  Annuals and/or perennials.  

Also, I'd love to hear about any crops you have successfully grown and stored as winter feed.  I am in western Oregon, so will have only limited growth from late fall through early spring, and very little rain from mid-June to mid-September.  I will be trialing sunflowers, sorghum, and winter squash for storage crops this year.  

My long term plan is to keep a flock of about 50 layers, plus hatching and growing out chicks each spring.    Our property is several acres in total, but I am hoping I will be able to be 90%+ self sufficient with less than an acre devoted to the chickens.    The land I am working on is mostly pasture grass now, with few trees/shrubs, etc.  



The perennials I have that are producing well in my chicken area are autumn olive and seaberry.  The chickens love them.  Since they are berries, they aren't available enough of the year to add a substantial amount to the chickens overall food intake, but as part of an overall plan, I highly recommend them.
 
gardener
Posts: 204
Location: Morongo Valley
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I hesitate to recommend anyone intentionally plant my favorite food volunteers in Western Oregon, pigweed amaranth and purslane.  I might get people with pitchforks coming after me.  LOL  A lot of people can't stand those.  But they were staple food for me and my birds.

Purslane is the plant with the highest amount of omega 3 fatty acids in it's leaves.  It's incredibly nutritious in many other ways, as is detailed in this article below.  One of the most nutritious vegetables.  

Purslane writeup on Eat the Weeds website

Pigweed amaranth is also very high in nutrients.  You can taste it - the leaves are sort of like spinach, if you added a strong mineral flavor. My husband never liked them, but was okay if I mixed it in no more than 1/3 pigweed amaranth in dishes like saag (Indian creamed spinach).  Our pigweed bounty started when I foolishly(?) let a few plants go to seed in the garden.  Ever after, it came up like a CARPET if we tilled.  We went to no till the next year after this photo and then we had to purposely disturb soil to get it to grow.  Which is sort of funny when you think about it.  It never bothered me, the plant is really simple to weed and the "weedings" make good bird food.  So we made sure to have large patches of it each year after we switched to no till, and so it required extra effort for the first time...an odd bit of irony for a "weed".

However, that said, most people, including neighbors with grain or mint or whatever fields near you, might not like my recommendations.  Just a warning.

I found that purslane seems to volunteer easier in the Willamette Valley, while pigweed amaranth was more dominant in my coastal mountain range garden.

I also fed bindweed to my chickens and guinea pigs.  I never had a bindweed problem, because eventually it was overharvested in the areas I didn't want it.  I know that sounds unusual, since bindweed is another one people are usually passionate against.  But it might be regional?  However, I wouldn't intentionally put bindweed anywhere.  Just mentioning this in case you have a patch.

As for starchy winter feed - I was not successful in that manner.  Too wet and too short a growing season where I was located.  I tried sunflowers and the heads always molded.  Even when I dehydrated them, I couldn't do it fast enough.  And I couldn't get grains to work, but I was in a very shady wet spot.

I was successful with overwintering one really good leafy green, though - Portugese kale.  That Brassica is incredible and was excellent winter food.  Not the starch component you are looking for, but it withstood very low temperatures, and even a foot of snow one year.  That plant can become a perennial of sorts in some areas.  I never knew for how long, though.  I took the flowerbuds off each time, too.  So that might not technically be a perennial, but it's a very useful permaculture plant, in my experience.  It was by far the most durable of the Brassicas I've grown.


 
Posts: 61
Location: SE Alaska
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I've build several fodder boxes to place around the chicken yard.  2x4 frame covered in hardware cloth.  I've planted a mix of wheat, clover, various greens (lettuce, kale, chards, etc.  usually whatever mix I have left over from the garden planting).  Just spread the seed and lay the box over them.  Chickens can't get to the seeds or scratch up the roots but will happily eat almost any green that grows up through the hardware cloth.  

I have lots of berries.  My backyard is covered in native salmonberries and the chickens love them!  Also have raspberries and blackberries planted along the fence row,  The chickens get whatever grows into and falls on their side.  They also really like the currents (I have black, red and josta).  The black and red are really heavy produces in our climate (I'm in SE AK and isn't that different than you in western OR) and provide a lot of berries from July to Sept (mix of varieties that fruit at different times).  There are more than enough for me and the chickens.  They also propagate really easily so I'm adding more cuttings around the chicken areas.  I also have native blueberries scattered around the chicken yard.  Bushes in the yard are protected by slabs of wood placed around the base so chickens can't scratch up the roots.  I'm experimenting with a mulberry tree (still to young to have fruit) but if I can keep it going I think it'll be a good food source for the chicks.  

Comfery...it's like chicken crack and grows really quickly.  Chickweed and peppercrest (Cardamine sp.)...well grows like weeds around here and the chickens love them both.   I've seeded various clovers for them.  And field peas.  Wheat and barley I've done on the small scale.  It doesn't tend to mature or dry out well here because our fall is so wet and cold so I've never tried to store it.  But it does make a nice meal for them for a few weeks in the fall.  

Compost pile/box in the chicken yard.  They pick over any table scraps I add and bugs.  I open the box and let the chickens turn it a few times over the summer.  There is always a buffet of worms when I do this.  

I can pretty much feed my chicken spring through fall but still need feed over winter.  I haven't really gotten into trying to grow/store winter feed.  However, I do supplement.  My chickens do really love squash and they gets some throughout the winter as a supplement.  Ive thought that these would be a good crop to grow and store for winter chickens.   Also potatoes.  They grow really well for me and store easily.  They do need a bit of processing (cooking before they can be feed out) but I can just chop up a bunch into big chunks and through them into a pot on the woodstove where they simmer until soft.  So I'm not spending too much time or wasted energy on this.  Again I just supplement their diet with these.  Not sure how they do as a regular feed.  
 
Todd Parr
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Posts: 1793
Location: Wisconsin, zone 4
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It's interesting that some people's chickens love comfrey.  Mine don't seem to like it at all.
 
Bryan Beck
Posts: 55
Location: Western Oregon
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Thanks, all.  Some great input.  

For perennials, I have about 30 berry bushes and 16 fruit trees planted this past year, so I expect the chooks to get a good amount of "leftovers" from May through November (though it will be a couple of years before we really get good production from those).  I have a lot of that area also planted out with the fodder crops so I can just move their paddock around to follow the fruit harvest.  Fruit trees so far are pretty conventional grocery store fruits (cherry, apple, pear, plum, etc).  I also plan to add some more "unusual" fruits in the future so will definitely keep seaberry and autumn olive on the list. I have seen some low-lying bush type seaberry plants so I may plant them under some of the existing fruit trees as a N-fixer guild plant.  

I didn't mention, but amaranth is on the list for sowing later this year.  From what I have read it wants a warmer germination temperature so it will be part of a mix with millet and buckwheat that I will start sowing in May.  And, there is a small patch of volunteer chickweed at the edge of my compost pile.  I'll make sure to let it seed and spread.  I will also look into getting some purlsane and comfrey in the mix.  No bindweed on this property so far and I don't plan to grow any based on my experience at my last place.  

My main challenge with finding good storage crops is that most of the ones I have thought of put on a lot of their growth during our long hot, dry spell in the summer and I am trying to avoid irrigation.  I have set up some areas with deep mulch in a semi-sheltered area so will see what I can get out of that patch.  

 
pollinator
Posts: 1457
Location: northern California
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In years when they are abundant, I've fed my layers on acorns!  Usually I clip them in half and sun-dry them as I gather them, and store them dry that way, in their half-shells, and then crack them further in batches and leach the pieces in about seven changes of water over seven consecutive days....adding a batch at the beginning and feeding off the last batch each day.  After that long they are leached enough.  I add a protein supplement (which though usually bought fish or soy meal can be anything....black soldier flies are a favorite, as are trapped rodents and roadkill for that matter!) and plenty of greens....
 
Bryan Beck
Posts: 55
Location: Western Oregon
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Interesting.  What do you use to clip the acorns in half?  I don't have acorns at the moment but could see trying something similar with hazelnuts or possibly walnuts, both of which grow well in my area.  
 
gardener
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Location: Vilonia, Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Our chicken area has dandelion, purslane, mustard, turnip, rape, scarlet clover, white clover, Bermuda and annual Rye grasses.
They get figs, pears, passion fruit, strawberries, plums, blackberries, squash, tomatoes, pumpkin, watermelon, and grapes when we are picking, they get the culls.
We also give them meal worms and wasp larvae in the nest.
 
Alder Burns
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I clip acorns in half with a good heavy-duty pair of hand pruners (Fiskars brand is my favorite). This is because they are still moist inside when they drop, and many already contain grubs, which will eat up much of the acorn if they are left whole and many of the rest will mold.  These are white oak group acorns (blue and valley oak), which germinate quickly and are perishable.  They are more comparable to chestnuts than they are to other tree nuts, more starchy than oily.  I know that Native people here preferred the black oak, which stores longer and easier, in a whole state. (it is more tannic, and requres more leaching....and doesn't grow near here)  Clipped in half, the grubs crawl out and collect in the bottom of the buckets I put them in (where they can be separated and fed to the chickens), and then the halves are spread in the sun to dry down hard for long storage.
 
Bryan Beck
Posts: 55
Location: Western Oregon
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OK, great, thank you guys.  
 
pollinator
Posts: 257
Location: North Carolina, USA Zone 7b
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My girls luv luv luv  BUCKWHEAT, just when the seeds are ripening before the hulls grow.  They're not interested in the leaves so it's an incredibly easy summer plant to grow - I just scatter seeds around everywhere amongst the vegetables and around the food forest in early spring.  Eventually I want to have enough to harvest and grind for myself - a super nutritious seed.
 
Bryan Beck
Posts: 55
Location: Western Oregon
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[quote=Susan Pruitt]My girls luv luv luv  BUCKWHEAT, just when the seeds are ripening before the hulls grow.  They're not interested in the leaves so it's an incredibly easy summer plant to grow - I just scatter seeds around everywhere amongst the vegetables and around the food forest in early spring.  Eventually I want to have enough to harvest and grind for myself - a super nutritious seed.[/quote]

OK, that's great to know.  I've got some growing right now but haven't turned the chooks loose on it yet.  Do they like the seeds after they are fully formed, as well, or just in the immature stage?
 
Posts: 17
Location: Algarve, Portugal
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Don't forget about tree fodder such as mulberry leaves.
 
pollinator
Posts: 547
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Don't think its been said yet, but caragana will give winter fodder. I am trialling some other legumes as well. Winter peas are great. They eat well in the summer, I concentrate on winter fodder.
 
Bryan Beck
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Don't think its been said yet, but caragana will give winter fodder. I am trialing some other legumes as well. Winter peas are great. They eat well in the summer, I concentrate on winter fodder.



Caragana is a good suggestion - I love perennials.  What time of year do they produce peas?  Or are you thinking of leaves for winter fodder?  

I also didn't realize until recently that there is a perennial form of sunflowers that I am going to have to try out.  
 
Posts: 461
Location: Northern Maine, USA (zone 3b-4a)
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i have a section of lawn that i don't mow , just to harvest the greens with a scythe for chicken feed. has lots of dandelion in it. i also have a spot i planted nettles, comfrey and borage that also gets harvested as chicken fodder. have 22 kinds of fruit that i also give them when available. i have 2 totes i grow mealworms just for them. i even save the eggshells, crush them and feed it back to them.
 
Susan Pruitt
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Bryan I just stumbled back in here - I forget to "watch" the threads I comment on :(    About the buckwheat - they start pecking at the seeds when they're fully formed but still greenish.   You've probably already observed that by now :)


Another plant my girls like is curly dock.   I've noticed however,  that even among the lengthy list provided by all the other folks here, my girls go for the greens seasonally.   Comfrey and dock are their last choice very late in the summer when everything else is dying off.  They prefer young greens, grass and clover primarily here.   And they'll eat kale any day.   Same with goji berry leaves - eating them now (October)

FIGS !!!
 
Posts: 362
Location: Portlandia, Oregon
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I've been successful with almost entirely reducing feed requirements by using a compost pile for my 7 birds. I still give them food but they don't seem as interested in it.
 
Posts: 101
Location: belgium
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I used the acorns as  Alder sugests. And it works, very good.
7 days leaching of halved acorns ( Quercus robur in my case ) and than boiling for 20 minutes.
8 chickens ate 250 grams of acorns in 5 minutes. It takes them more time too eat the food then when i give them the same weight corn or wheat (2 minutes ).
Certainly a very good alternative winterfeed and even for free.
No adverse effects noticed. No idea if the acorns give of a taste to the eggs, the chikcens are in there egg laying autumrest.
 
Posts: 62
Location: NW KS/NE CO State Line
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My landlord is a bit... obsessive... about the lawn at our house and the two adjacent ones.  I "harvest" clippings complete with bugs, leaves, and anything else I run over with my bagging mower, and the chickens get about a half dozen bags.  It generally lasts them a couple days, during which they mostly ignore the feed.  

What they don't eat goes into the compost, which they forage thru later on.  
 
Posts: 22
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I am new to poultry this year and keep ducks not chickens but some of this might work for chickens too? We are in Suffolk, UK for climate comparison.

Greens:

Spinach
Chard (keeps growing in winter)
Claytonia (keeps growing in winter)
Lambs quarters
Dandelions
Quinoa - leaves and seeds
Comfrey
Clover
Chickweed
Wood sorrel
Sorrel
Radicchio
Chicory
Groundsel
Borage
Fresh grass from pasture and seed heads - they particularly like barley
Kale (keeps growing in winter)
Leftovers of other brassicas (you can also leave an unnetted sacrificial brassica patch to attract cabbage white butterflies and let the birds demolish the caterpillars)
Nasturtiums
Some green manure mixes (net it until you’re ready for them to eat it, they will save you digging it in and add their own manure - works with rabbits and guinea pigs too)
Amaranth - leaves and seeds

I had a lot of this set up for myself and my guinea pigs anyway so just expanded it a little.

I grow a lot of this in pots for two reasons 1. I can extend the season a little by moving them into an unheated greenhouse and 2. I put the pots in a cage so that they can eat anything that grows through the cage but not kill the plants and then swap the pots out as needed.

They don’t like mustard, mizuna or rocket

Other:

Sunflower seeds
Jerusalem artichokes - dig them up as you need them throughout winter and they grow like weeds. I have to stamp on them to break them up though.
Duckweed - doubles every 2-3 days in summer and good source protein. I grow it in water butts and add it to their water bowl though as they will eat it all otherwise. I have dried some for winter but have yet to see if the birds like it.
Bugs - Favourites are slugs, snails, worms and woodlice I have secured one end of their coop to the opening at the bottom of one of the compost bins so they can hunt overnight. I’ve purposely not cleaned up fallen leaves this year and built a few woodpiles to encourage bugs in the leaf mold and they have fun digging around in it.

I grew a few extra butternut squashes and froze some peas, sweetcorn, melon rind and tomatoes from summer but only as I was growing them for myself anyway.

I’ve also noticed them helping themselves to:

Strawberries - I lost nearly my whole crop of strawberries to the ducks this year. For next year I have planted a duckproof patch and left the original one for them.
Grapes
Blueberries
Raspberries
Blossoms - rose, wisteria, jasmine, any rubus plant
Windfall fruit - apple, pear, plum, fig, medlar, quince and any bugs in them
Chives - I think these are meant to be poisonous but they seem to think otherwise and I haven’t noticed any ill effects
Acorns
Sea buckthorn - leaves and berries (high protein content)
Hazel leaves

 
Tj Jefferson
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Posts: 547
Location: Virginia USDA 7a/b
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Sorry for the delayed reply Bryan. Big outdoor labors but today the ground is sodden. I have specifically been engineering winter forage for the chickens since the herbivores tend to get plenty of growth in this climate during the winter.

Caragana and any of the legumes I am trying to maximize because the chickens need protein and they get few bugs for about 4 months. My overstory in the silvopasture is planted in honeylocust and I am working on getting the thornless big pod heritage cultivars for that. The drop of the pods depends on your climate. Honeylocust pods drop for months in the fall and winter around here (but that's around here). As much as I dislike monoculture the other legumes such as mimosa and black locust don't hold over the winter. Caragana also tends to hold many pods late into the winter. I am not counting the leaves as a food source, they are very ephemeral due to the size and protein content. That being said my "chickosystem" is quite immature. No super data, this is all based on my research and experiments thus far.

Other ground growing things they are greedy about have been mentioned on here. They love kale/brassicas and it survives the winter here. I buy it in food plot mixes at the end of deer season. I throw out winter peas after they go through an area along with tillage radishes and some turnips or whatever is cheap end of season. This also can have annual grains and chicory and they eat a variety. I agree with the chicory, some of them seem to go after that. Dock is a great longstanding seed plant, but then you have dock everywhere, and I am not stoked on that. Same with poke. If winters are colder standing seed heads are good but they have native bird pressures, and you won't win that in my experience.

So that is why I am all about the honeylocust, seems to be the best and longest standing seed forage here.
 
pollinator
Posts: 202
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For the chickens, pig poo, comfrey, pumkin, duck eggs, potatoes, corn, beans.
For the pigs, chicken poo and off cuts, comfrey, pumpkin, duck eggs, potatoes, corn, beans
Fid the dogs and us, chicken, pig, duck, eggs, pumkin, potatoes, corn, beans.
Do you see the pattern yet?
All hail Carol Deppe!
 
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Location: Albany Western Australia
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I grow Drosanthemum floribundum, its a succulent groundcover from Africa I believe. Anyway its drought tolerant, liked by the chickens and in spring flowers heavily for the bees. Once established it doesn't need any looking after.
 
Posts: 62
Location: Kansas City, Missouri, United States
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Shawn Harper wrote:I've been successful with almost entirely reducing feed requirements by using a compost pile for my 7 birds. I still give them food but they don't seem as interested in it.



How big is your compost pile?  Does that work year round?
 
Posts: 12
Location: rural West Virginia
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I grow corn--but never get enough--and sunflowers, but need to better fence my field as something has been trashing my plants the last few years. The idea is that corn is not high enough in protein for chickens, which i don't worry about from March to November as they are free range and can find plenty of bugs. But my West Virginia climate is very different from those in Oregon--we get 40 inches of rain pretty evenly distributed all year, have harsher winter but warmer summers. Right now I'm feeding a lot of butternut squash to my chickens because I had a bumper crop. They prefer it cooked which is no problem--I chop up chunks and let them slowly steam on top of the woodstove all day. We also give them a little cat food for a major protein boost, sometimes, in winter. Then there are kitchen scraps, and they have access to the compost piles and the woods. Sometimes I allow them into my fallowed fields, which include plenty of amaranth, but I am concerned they'll trash the rye/vetch cover crop. looks okay, though. I would say, about autumn/Russian Olive--don't do it. Don't plant it if it hasn't already infested your land--it's worse than multiflora rose. But I have a relative, goumi berries, which is supposed to be noninvasive and I don't yet see reason to doubt that. The berries are similar to but much bigger than the pest varieties.
To Bryan--I'm with Mark Twain, who said "There are two kind of people in this world: those who divide people into two groups and those who don't."
 
Posts: 113
Location: Wisconsin Rapids, WI
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Bryan Beck wrote:
I'm interested to know what other permies have done successfully to grow feed for their chickens or other poultry.  Although I am aware of sprouted seeds, etc. (and am doing some of that now while the field crops are growing out), I am most interested in hearing about forage/fodder you've intentionally planted and grown in the soil, and that chickens can harvest themselves.  Annuals and/or perennials.  



I assume you will have several pastures that will be out of the reach of the chickens while they are in the immature stage of they may get totally wrecked before they become useful for your chickens.
With this in mind, I'll proceed. If you can, since you have mostly fields at this time, remember that your chickens will need some shade. Especially for the "self-harvesting" kind, the best combination I can think of for your chicken is any kind of drupe [plums, cherries, Tupelo etc] or pomes [apples, crab apples, serviceberry etc] that will grow in your neck of the woods]. Grow them in fields of clover, alsike, alfalfa etc. That is for the greenery they need if you can rotate pastures. If you can't, let's hope that the fields are so large in proportion to the chickens'appetite that there will always be something green there for them. Squash and pumpkin are natural de-wormers, so you might want to raise a few just for them. Select the best for yourself. Those that have blemishes go to the chickens. They will be ripe just before the chickens spend more time in the coop.  But that is not "self-harvesting". Comfrey is also a very good food for your chickens, but it must be harvested by hand. I tighten a belt or string  around the plant and cinch tight, then cut the whole plant about 3"off the ground. I go and hang my comfrey bouquet of greenery in the yard, about 6" off the ground. It disappears in less than 20 mins. Comfrey is *extremely* attractive to any ruminant too, so fence it in!I do not raise cows, so I use comfrey for fertilizer [I make comfrey tea: It is the cat's a$$ for your squash and pumpkin too!] I have 30 plants in 2 beds that I never allow to flower [They stay more vigorous that way]
When you create an orchard, there are always trees that are suggested as "good pollinators". [Unfortunately, these are rarely trees whose fruit I'd want to collect for myself]. I would put those definitely in the field my chickens are pasturing: First, because they will be very good to the trees, chasing insects, manuring. Second because they will love the shade given by these trees. You might have to protect them with a tube for the first couple of years. I have apple trees which I harvest. Those will work great too, especially for the "after harvest cleanup": It will insure that you do not have rotten fruit left on the ground to foster bad insects over the winter.
Since I do not have harvesting equipment, the large fields, the planter etc I usually buy the grain I feed them. It saves me the investment Beyond that, table scraps are very appreciated. Stale bread, old rice, old split peas that we never got around to eating are also real treats for them.
I hope you find this useful. Good luck!
 
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In my area, there are too many coyotes.  They get shot at or the Kuvasz runs them down, kills them....
and sometimes eats them....but they remain a problem.  Easier to design a large enclosure divided
down the middle with a gate that selects which paddock to go to and alternately seed to produce
sprouts during the spring thru fall.  Raising earthworms and meal worms can supply a good source of
protein.  
 
steve bossie
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R Jay wrote:In my area, there are too many coyotes.  They get shot at or the Kuvasz runs them down, kills them....
and sometimes eats them....but they remain a problem.  Easier to design a large enclosure divided
down the middle with a gate that selects which paddock to go to and alternately seed to produce
sprouts during the spring thru fall.  Raising earthworms and meal worms can supply a good source of
protein.  

    try raising dubia roaches. they are a tropical roach and can't survive northern climes. they are very clean, quiet and breed like crazy. started w/ 100 6 months ago and i bet i have 1000 now. they eat almost anything and grow faster than mealworms. there are lots of places online to buy them and lot of info on care. give them a try . your chickens will love you for it!
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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"try raising dubia roaches. they are a tropical roach and can't survive northern climes. they are very clean, quiet and breed like crazy. started w/ 100 6 months ago and i bet i have 1000 now. they eat almost anything and grow faster than mealworms. there are lots of places online to buy them and lot of info on care. give them a try . your chickens will love you for it!"



I don't mean to shoot down your idea or be disrespectful of it, but there are a few problems with dubia roaches: Looking it up, Dubia roaches's favorite temperature is 90-95 F, so you would need a specially heated area: The house or the garage just would not do. Perhaps if you have a greenhouse that you can keep at that temperature year round? I'm also looking at the breeding cycle: to become adults, they need 6-7 months of care before they can breed. They lay 15-40 babe nymphs every 28 days *once they are adults*. Mommy's gestational cycle is 65 days. I have no doubt that my chickens would love them but when you add the price of 1000 breeding critters [$36-40 on Amazon] plus the electricity to keep them at optimal temperature all the time, plus the food they need to become adult and breed [Thank goodness, they will eat anything] plus potential losses... That is starting to get pricey. You might be able to get lots of very *good* chicken feed for less money,  less trouble and less of an investment.
Here are some prices for gourmet, high end dog and cat foods that are high enough in protein to satisfy *carnivores*:[I don't have dogs or cats, so I would not shell that kind of dough but it gives you a sense of potential expenses].
https://moneyinc.com/10-expensive-pet-foods-market-today/
It might be less expensive to make a connection with your butcher and get offal of slaughtered animal and turn them into a puree. Kidneys, tripe, lungs, livers, gizzards, bones that can be cracked for the marrow etc. are relished by chickens. Cheaper yet and easier to feed is game bird food at Tractor supply. [Apologies for the plug, but I do not work or get indemnified by them, so that is just my honest opinion].
Unless you have laying, molting or brooding chickens, you might want to get above the normal recommendations of  16% to 24% protein depending on age. You may love your chicken to death with too much protein though: Too much protein causes kidney disease and gout in chickens too.
https://www.google.com/search?q=damage+from+too+much+protein+in+chickens&oq=damage+from+too+much+protein+in+chickens&aqs=chrome..69i57.13418j0j8&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
I am aware that some folks figure on giving lots of protein to have nice very deep yellow-orange yolks. If that be the case, it is actually the lutein in their diet that causes that not the protein. Not to say that this is what you are going for, but just in case, here goes:
https://www.gardenbetty.com/how-to-get-those-delightful-dark-orange-yolks-from-your-backyard-chickens/
Garden Betty says:
"Give them plenty of fresh greens to increase the lutein in their yolks. The darker the green the better, so I often fix them a feast of edible amaranth (one of my favorite summer greens), kale, mustard, broccoli leaves, or whatever I happen to have growing in my garden. If it’s the middle of winter and your garden greens are lacking, you can give them alfalfa."
Alfalfa pellets [horse feed] is available at Tractor supply around here. but I'm sure there are other places. As a treat of when the chickens are under stress for whatever reason, that might be a good place to look.
 
steve bossie
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ok let me clear this up. dubia roaches are 1 of the species i grow. i mentioned them exclusively because they are the most common in the reptile  feeder trade. i also raise lobster roaches and pallid roaches which breed  faster. i keep a small heat mat under 1 tote and keep the other 2 over in my furnace room. 80f is fine.  they will breed in the 70f house temps. but arent as prolific. i feed them mostly food scraps and anything i can get at discount stores.. they aren't big eaters. they are far more prolific than my mealworms are. i get mine at roachcrossing.com which is the cheapest place to get them I've found. i don't use them as a primary food source but more as a protein/ fat supplement to their diet. once your colony gets big enough, you will find you have many to spare.i feed mostly males as 3/1 ratio of females to males is adequate for breeding. their frass is excellent compost that i dump in my worm bin for them to further break it down. between the worms, mealworms and roaches I've cut chicken feed consumption in half. out of the 3 i grow roaches are by far the easiest to take care of. love throwing a bowlful in the run and see those chickens run them down! even the ducks and geese love them!
 
steve bossie
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my wifes cousin is in charge of the produce dept. at the local shop.n save. gives me all the old produce. its shared w/ chickens, roaches and mealworms. also a nissen bread bakery a few miles over that i get stale bread at $5 a 55 gal. drum full. i use this mostly in the winter months to help them keep warm. if it gets moldy, i compost it. worms love it moldy too.
 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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steve bossie wrote:my wifes cousin is in charge of the produce dept. at the local shop.n save. gives me all the old produce. its shared w/ chickens, roaches and mealworms. also a nissen bread bakery a few miles over that i get stale bread at $5 a 55 gal. drum full. i use this mostly in the winter months to help them keep warm. if it gets moldy, i compost it. worms love it moldy too.




You are so lucky in Maine: Here, the law is that grocery stores are not allowed to sell or give away any old produce. Employees can be FIRED if they do! Instead, it has to go to the dump and be a waste for everybody!
 
pollinator
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I feed my hens in a chicken tractor soaked wheat. they always bury some and it comes up and produces more wheat. When the heads turn white I pull the stalks and throw them in the tractor and they peck the grains out and leave the the freshly cultivated ground mulched with straw.  Bird seed mix also works well, mostly millet and sunflowers. Have to pull those before the little birds get them.
 
steve bossie
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Cécile Stelzer Johnson wrote:

steve bossie wrote:my wifes cousin is in charge of the produce dept. at the local shop.n save. gives me all the old produce. its shared w/ chickens, roaches and mealworms. also a nissen bread bakery a few miles over that i get stale bread at $5 a 55 gal. drum full. i use this mostly in the winter months to help them keep warm. if it gets moldy, i compost it. worms love it moldy too.




You are so lucky in Maine: Here, the law is that grocery stores are not allowed to sell or give away any old produce. Employees can be FIRED if they do! Instead, it has to go to the dump and be a waste for everybody!

that bites!
 
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Chicken fodder/forage success stories?

After raising chicks from either eggs under a hen, or day olds purchased from a reputable poultry provider/club., I’ve found it worthwhile to expose them to as much variety as possible when they’re young.

That way they will eat almost anything and not leave it in the pen to attract vermin.

I give them non-chicken meat table scraps cut into beak sized portions, allow them to free-range through the wild parts of the garden/lawn/empty veggie garden beds (if any), and provide a basic supply of mixed non-GMO grain and pellets to keep them fit. A big bowl or trough of shell-grit also keeps their calcium level up.

A good gauge to them receiving proper nutrition is the quality of their plumage, the meat around their breast bone, colour of their wattles, hardness of egg shells, and general vigour.

I think the most important thing is to have them as docile as possible – able to simply pick them up, check them over, give a pat, and release. Some breeds are more stress prone than others, so ensuing they see humans as friends stops them being flighty, which also impacts egg production and lowers meat quality.

 
Cécile Stelzer Johnson
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F Agricola wrote:Chicken fodder/forage success stories?
I think the most important thing is to have them as docile as possible – able to simply pick them up, check them over, give a pat, and release. Some breeds are more stress prone than others, so ensuing they see humans as friends stops them being flighty, which also impacts egg production and lowers meat quality.



Hear Here: So true: If you handle them very gently when they are baby chicks, they will also imprint on you, too, although if they were born from a protective mother, it may be harder. I've trained my hens from young to get a gentle brush on the wings [best protected part of the chicken]. If you think about it from their standpoint, the weight ratio from a human to a chicken is scary. If you had a creature about 20 times your weight placing their hand on your head, back or shoulders, you might fear being crushed.
Although they are not pets, I speak to them in a soft, low voice. It seems to calm them. Now, they pick up on my mood. They do not run away when I approach. I was picking a hammer off the floor yesterday and one jumped on my back. I laughed.
I rarely pick them up [besides, they have just started to molt] but when I do I can put my left hand and arm between their legs while bringing my right hand on their right wing and lift. Well cradled like this, they rarely protest. If you want to practice petting them, first try them after dark, when they go to roost. Just have a muted light and speak to them softly all the time that you contact them.
I do not pick up the eggs as long as there is a hen in the nest. Laying an egg is an effort that takes 15-20 minutes, so they appreciate not being disturbed while they lay. Since all their eggs are laid before noon, I can go and pick up a couple of dozen eggs totally undisturbed after lunch.
A couple of weeks ago, I saw a hawk flying over and I let out a shriek to alarm them. I raised and flapped my arms furiously, shrieking,  looking straight at the hawk. My tone was so unusual they were instantly alert and the rooster is the first one who noticed where I was looking. He rushed toward the coop flapping his wings and alerting the hens. He made sure they were all in and then he went in too.
Besides the benefit to their health, it is also easier on you at age 70 to not have to run after them with a butterfly net! [Ask me how I know ]
 
R Jay
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I wonder if the best way to"tame" chickens is to start with breeds whose disposition is calm
and relatively freindly.

Came across this blog.  It has an online guide for raising chickens and charts for best egg
layers and meat producers.

There are also sections on goats, homesteading, backyard remedies and backyard gardening.

https://www.reformstead.com/raising_chickens.html
Filename: best_egg_laying_chicneks_chart.pdf
File size: 1000 Kbytes
 
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