We have a run setup for our chickens and I've been adding tons of straw to it. It's turning into a nice crumbly blackish soil. Great! Now the question becomes what high nutrient requirement forage can I grow in there for the chickens? We have had squash sprout out of the soil and it has produced MASSIVE squashes. I was thinking of fencing off a section, growing something in there and then allowing the chickens back in to enjoy their harvest. Any ideas what I could grow in there? We designed a small movable cage that we put the chickens out in during the day but they don't like to stay there very long. Thanks for the help, I'm sure the chickens will appreciate it. I'm in zone 7a around Philadelphia.
My chickens really seemed to like the flax and buckwheat I planted. Early in the season it functioned as a cover crop, after it went to seed I let the chickens in that area and they ate a good chunk of the seed and "mowed" over the stalks making a mat of brush.
A few I never see which seem very promising as chicken food
- Hackberry: They produce abundant, reliable crops of large high protein fruits / seeds. Also, they typically get insect gall, making the leaves a possible secondary protein source. The seed and fruit are also good human food when prepared correctly. You can make a tasty nut milk with them in a blender. I believe they can also be roasted.
- Elms: Siberian and Lacebark elms produce samaras that are high in protein. Siberian in the spring; Lacebark in the fall.
- Maples: Sugar, Box Elder, Red Maples, etc, all produce edible seeds. I believe the leaves may also be edible.
Permaculture: The Edge is the New Center
Taos, New Mexico / Carson, New Mexico / 7000ft / zones 5,6 / Soil: Servilleta-Hernandez / Avg. 13" precip per annum
Mine love berries of all kinds. A raspberry of blackberry thicket is great for them. Cover and food both. You just need to protect the roots from being scratched up. I place rounds of old rotting wood or rocks around the base of mine.