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Food Forest for chickens

 
Posts: 20
Location: Portugal
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Hi Guys
We have planted half our food forest for chickens and thought I would share what we have done for any feedback and ideas for the rest of it.



The food forest was designed with these requirements for the food forest:

The food forest must provide wind protection to our new community house
The system must be designed thinking about the succession of trees over time, i.e. first design a canopy later that will be present in 150 years, then design in shorter lived trees to live under this canopy and even shorter lived shrubs closer to the main canopy tree.
The food forest must stay true to the plan if left unmanaged through a natural succession of plants
The food forest must stay true to the design if someone takes over the land who isn’t interested in food forests – we must give them a reason not to chop it down for grains or monoulture, i.e. high yields and beauty.
Shrubs and trees should be planted in with adequate spacing so that they can grow to full size without competing with other plants
All layers of the food forest must be included, the fencing will be used for climbers such as passion fruit
The polyculture of trees and shrubs should be designed and planted to give a forest feel and not individual beds or guilds of plants.
The path for humans which goes through the food forest must have trees and shrubs on either side that can provide regular forage for humans, i.e. berries or fruits that are harvested regularly and can be eaten there and then (such as apples and blueberries).
Fruit and berry plants that humans would harvest as a one off and would need to process to eat such as quince and olive should be planted further away from the path (e.g. olives, elderberry and quince)
Chickens should enjoy to eat something from every plant, like the fallen fruit or low hanging fruit or leaves.
The wild lavender growing all over this are not to be disturbed.
All plants should provide a yield for us (the humans), like berries, fruit, medicine, timber etc
As many medicinal plants for chickens should be included (such as wormwood as a dewormer) as animals are known to self medicate.
Ground covers of herbs and spreading fruit like mock strawberry should be used to cover the ground.
Open areas should be included to give the chickens and insects both grass and weed fodder
An area must be included for a chicken powered compost generating system
Areas must be devoted to growing grains to be saved for sprouting for additional chicken food
Access to chicken house, compost generating system must be easy for humans, wheelbarrows and a car must be able to access the output of the compost system
The food forest should be split into three areas so the chickens can be rotated through them.
One area more densely planted and closed to chickens for 1-2 years
One area with larger trees more spaced out and less understory plants and space for growing grains. This area will be open to chickens within 1 year and later sheep as well.
One area for the chicken powered compost system where the chickens will have access to from the very start (they will be introduced in 6 months when we introduce the chickens)[/list]


Chicken food forest Area 1. 1071 square meters (51 meters by 21 meters):

First we designed the canopy layer in 100 years and then included plants in the space in time based on the growth of the trees in 25, 50 and 100 years. This included:

Existing native holm oak and cork oak seedlings. The oaks are only a meter or so high at the moment and are extremely slow growing. Although they don’t directly provide fodder for the chickens, they attracts a lot of life which the chickens can eat and as they are growing shorter lived trees under their future canopy, we have included Red Elderberry, Quince, Loquat, Medicinal shrubs and a Goji Hedge in this space in time. They could also be pruned back in 100 years for firewood if desired. The planted understory here is mock strawberry.
A nitrogen fixing Carob tree grown from collect seed. This is the slowest growing tree in the design but with the biggest canopy, giving us a large area to plant fruit trees that live or produce for less than 100 years. The tree will in the future shade the pond that we dug to get clay to build the chicken coop. It will fix nitrogen for the other canopy trees around it, provide fodder for chickens and the edible carob pods provide a chocolate substitute for us. In and around the future canopy we have planted 8 Jostaberries (cross between black current and gooseberry), two different varieties of Nectarine trees, chickens favorite nitrogen fixer the siberian pea shrub, Sea Buckthorn, two Pomegranates, Common Juniper, four Black Chokeberries and Asparagus.  This area has many herbs including Rui, Oregano ground cover, Wormwood and Marjurum. We also included many edible flowers (including holly hock, borage, calendula) and nitrogen fixing cover crops such as clover and alfalfa.
A black mulberry tree grown from a bought seed. This tree is faster growing and the berries are loved by chickens. As it is faster growing, there is less time available for us to grow trees under the canopy but we have planted shrubs and trees at the edge of the future canopy such as two Apricots, three red chokeberries, many Artichokes, 3 Black elderberries and a variety of herbs with the main groundcovers of Oregano, Mock strawberry and Comfrey Bocking 14.
Dogwood Cherry tree bought. Another slow growing tree giving us space in time to play. The cherries and flower are beautiful and chickens will adore the fallen fruit.  Under here we have planted two nitrogen fixing Myrtle shrubs and two Black Lace Elderberries, herbs such as sage and rosemary. This shrub layer will join into the Carob guilt. Around here we have propagated in a variety a running strawberry and calendulas to cover this area.

If your interested to learn more you can check our blog on this: Blog on food forest for chickens

 
gardener
Posts: 1870
Location: Just northwest of Austin, TX
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That's an extraordinary plan. I am a little to far south for a couple of these plants, but I will still be using it a reference tool.  Thank you for the wonderfully detailed explanation of your reasoning process.
 
pollinator
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Casie I think other than Hazelnut you can grow everything listed, which ones would you say that you can't grow?

Keela you have put so much thought into the chicken fodder area. The only think I can add is that I would also grow alot of mushroom and insect for my chickens.
 
pollinator
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Location: Virginia
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That is an amazing plan! I love how you have planned in such detail for the future. It saves so much of the harvesting work I do for the chickens during times when I can't let them free range. I will definitely be making some changes to my set up.

 
Casie Becker
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Mostly I was thinking I am borderline on chill hours for many stone fruit,  which is only going to get worse over time.  I thought elderberries were in that same situation but your comment made me take a second look.  Now I want to convince my mother that elderberries are a much better use of that relatively damp corner where she wants a banana tree.
 
Laurence Keela
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S Bengi wrote:Casie I think other than Hazelnut you can grow everything listed, which ones would you say that you can't grow?

Keela you have put so much thought into the chicken fodder area. The only think I can add is that I would also grow a lot of mushroom and insect for my chickens.



Hi Bengi, good point that i didn't mention on the blog, i collected many mushrooms from around the land and put them in water and watered the whole forest. i am just not so good at identifying mushrooms (as i cant stand them), so i did not target specific edible mushrooms, i just put as much variety their as possible, do you think that does the job?.

I also incolculated the main trees with mycorrhizal powder  ut i will stop doing this as i can see the same mushroom coming up by trees in my older food forest that i inoculated, so i can just  ke my own by soaking the roots of the tree in a water/mushroom concoction.
 
S Bengi
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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I like making a tea/spray/dip of water kefir+milk kefir+worm compost and local mushroom slurries+local dirt.
I add that to compost, to biochar, to bare root, to the soil. I also like applying to growing trees/plants about once a month.
 
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