permaculture outhouse permaculture sepp holzer bone sauce permaculture cast iron permaculture chicken harvest permaculture electric heat
Permies likes chickens and the farmer likes best perennial chicken feed permies
  Search | Permaculture Wiki | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies | World Domination!
Register / Login
permies » forums » critters » chickens
Bookmark "best perennial chicken feed" Watch "best perennial chicken feed" New topic
Author

best perennial chicken feed

Jami McBride
volunteer

Joined: Aug 29, 2009
Posts: 1775
    
    8
Oh I see, I didn't find it the first time I searched.  Funny how close the names are. . . .
          


Joined: Jul 26, 2010
Posts: 21
One of the common names for Chenopodium is  "Fat hen"  and I thought that was a pretty good indicator that I should grow some for my flock.

It's a self seeding annual - they say it can be invasive so to take care where you plant it. 

I tried some this year but had no luck with germination. I bought the seed from Bountiful Gardens. I'm not sure if it was a problem with the seed or something else, but next year I'll try this source:

http://www.jlhudsonseeds.net/SeedlistCE-CL.htm

I do have some wild growing lambs quarter's but the chickens never get any - cows, sheep, and goats chow it down before they can get to it.

Recently I read that lambs quarters and chicory both have more protein than alfalfa.
Brian Bales


Joined: Jan 13, 2011
Posts: 90
Very timely post to come across as I am planning foraging plants for chickens, turkeys and goats. Interestingly one usually works for all. Which breeds to choose has been tricky. For chickens I have decided to try Favorolles. Everything I read indicates that they are good foragers, brooders and duel purpose breeds. Has anyone raised them? I'd like to know more about their temperment. Does anyone have lists of forage for chickens and turkeys that they would like to share?
                              


Joined: Jul 12, 2010
Posts: 123
Susan Monroe wrote:
The only breed I've ever had are Buff Orpingtons.  I asked on the Backyard Chicken forum what would fit my criteria best:
*Large breed (don't fly over fences into killer dog yards)
*Good foragers
*Not fly-in-your-face flighty things
*Brown eggs

Mine range all over my acre, are good-natured for handling, and I trained them from youngsters to come when I called or rattled some scratch in a can.  It's sure easier to lead them than to catch them!

Sue


they where my first and favorite as well.
Jack Shawburn


Joined: Jan 18, 2011
Posts: 230
Does anyone have experience with Pigeon Peas?
                            


Joined: Dec 01, 2010
Posts: 158
Location: Abilene, KS
My girls won't eat a lot of things that other chickens do, but as long as they're free ranging, they seem to fill up on whatever weed or grass that is growing at the time, weed seed, bugs, etc.  I tried planting different things and they weren't too interested.  After two years of trying, I decided that they knew what they needed to eat, and who was I to try to tell them otherwise.  Agh.

As long as mine are free ranging, even in winter, they hardly eat from the coop feeder at all.


Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
Every time i see a chicken thread  video i say that I think the chickens would eat olives when they go black late in the season, i eat them they are not so bitter then, blackbirds and other birds come and eat mine.
  What about eleagnus berries that have eatable seeds as well as eatable berries what thread was i on yesterday where paul wheaton gave a connection with a nursery tha tsold eleagnus .
    What about may and sloes and other hedge plants  If you read Nick Manns thread habitat aid you get a whole list of these plants in his section on hedges that are good for the birds and the mice and such and also learn about the interesting old fashioned meadow plant seeds he sells from the days that feilds were full of flowers as well as grass.
  The seed of whitch hazel hamaelis are eatable so they would do for hens i suppose.
  I  you grew mulberries you could breed silk worms and feed the worms to the hens after taking their silk cocoons, a bit brutal, i read a very good chinese site that used the worms of the cocoons for the fish in their fish poinds and the manure from the fish to fertilise the trees and the grass for their sheep who ate mulberry leaves in autumn. agri rose macaskie.
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
Leah Sattler wrote:
sure they will! I observe them picking the seed heads off of whatever happens to be growing in the pasture.

Interesting. I was wondering today when driving through wild grassland today whether I could lop off the tops and feed that rich array of seeds to chickens. Acres of free food.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  chelle ,if you lop off the top of the grass in summer to feed your chickens on the grain, you help the fire danger in summer problems and get food for your hens but I suppose you could have a humus business to to do something with the straw. Water the straw with manure or fertiliser so it breaks down quickly into humus.

  Tha t grass seed probably feeds lots of wild birds and mice and such, we always take everything for our elves.
  If the plough is destructive of soils, which it is, leaving them bare is to leave them without anything that will makes soils growing on them usuall for a good while, then in the past it did nt matter much because there wer plenty of tracts of wild land now we can take on every spot of land and so the ruin of soils is total.

Another use fo r hte straw of hte grass you could cut to get the seed for hens and to reduce fire risk.
  The australians have a product called lighten that looks likke shredded grass that they put layers of in the barrels of potatoes  that are bieng used because if you plant a potatoe at he bottom of a barrel and add earth as the plant grows upward you end up with potatoes on all the layers of the barrel which is to say morre than useual amount of potatoes per plant and lots of potatoes in a small area. . In this video the barrel was filled full of layers of soil fertiliser and lighten it is a video of a bamboo potato tower. 
  There is also a video of making a herb spiral in which the spiral is filled full of straw, lighten would be in the version sold for gardeners in ausstralia and only a handfull of soil or humus is put into the straw in the place each plant is planted.
      Maybe lighten works like the wood does in the soil of huglekulture it breaks down and feed the plants. This year I was weeding in the small hugleculture bed i made 18mounths ago and the weeds i pulled out had each attached their roots to one small peice of wood or other.  Plants love wood ther roots go straight for it i pu corks in th ebottom of some pots once and the same thing happened. agri rose macaskie.
Warren David


Joined: Nov 18, 2010
Posts: 186
rose macaskie wrote:
we always take everything for our elves.
Do they make shoes?
Chelle Lewis


Joined: Dec 10, 2009
Posts: 417
Location: Hartbeespoort, South Africa
    
    1
rose macaskie wrote:
  chelle ,if you lop off the top of the grass in summer to feed your chickens on the grain, you help the fire danger in summer problems and get food for your hens but I suppose you could have a humus business to to do something with the straw. Water the straw with manure or fertiliser so it breaks down quickly into humus.
We already cut back large sections to prevent fire. I am very glad we did last winter or we would have lost buildings... the fire was very high, hot and fast. In one section where it was cut low for 10 meters that fire still raced in for a good 7 meters. It was so hot we couldn't even fight it at the edge of the firebreak... just had to run. Never done that before. I use that cut grass in the layering of new beds done lasagna style... start with wood logs... grass ... manure.... soil... greens...manure....soil... and so on. Makes fantastic beds.

 
The australians have a product called lighten that looks likke shredded grass that they put layers of in the barrels of potatoes  that are bieng used because if you plant a potatoe at he bottom of a barrel and add earth as the plant grows upward you end up with potatoes on all the layers of the barrel which is to say morre than useual amount of potatoes per plant and lots of potatoes in a small area. . In this video the barrel was filled full of layers of soil fertiliser and lighten it is a video of a bamboo potato tower. 
Now that is a neat idea! 
 
 There is also a video of making a herb spiral in which the spiral is filled full of straw, lighten would be in the version sold for gardeners in ausstralia and only a handfull of soil or humus is put into the straw in the place each plant is planted.
I think I remember seeing that some time ago... good to find and watch again. Thanks.

Maybe lighten works like the wood does in the soil of huglekulture it breaks down and feed the plants.
I like to use logs at the very base of the bed... and the grass then also.

This year I was weeding in the small hugleculture bed i made 18mounths ago and the weeds i pulled out had each attached their roots to one small peice of wood or other.  Plants love wood ther roots go straight for it i pu corks in th ebottom of some pots once and the same thing happened. agri rose macaskie.
That is interesting. I just did the logs because of all the good info here... maybe in the next few seasons going to do lots of good stuff for my plants too.

Thanks Rose. Interesting points you raise.

Chelle
Marc Flora


Joined: Jan 20, 2010
Posts: 9
Location: Helena, Montana
Paul

Too bad you can't grow alfalfa.  I would recommend clover.  I have white and red clover planted in the 2 acre EFG along with alfalfa and some volunteer yellow clover and black medic.  The birds keep the medic and clovers mowed down.  I have neutral soil here but have had good success with clovers in very acid soil.  A good feature of the clover here in this cold location is that it is green very early and late in the season.

All the fowl - geese, ducks, turkeys and chickens are getting alfalfa and grass hay this winter with their grain.  The eggs are great and the grain bill is lower.

My chickens have never had trouble finding grain or grass seed.  (They will do anything for kamut- of all the grains it is the only type I've grown that they simply will not leave alone.) They nibble the docks and other broad leaf volunteers - especially early in the spring.  For a shrub you might try Aronia (chokeberry) - it stays fairly short and stout.  The berries are a big hit with the birds.  It yields at a young age.

They suck down the Caragana seeds but they are small.  Since I use the Caragana as windbreak/snow fence and as a nurse plant for young trees, the chicken food is a bonus.

Haven't gotten a yield of berries yet from the Sea Buckthorn so I can't give you a report on that - but I hope they don't show too much of a fondness for the fruit as it is intended for human use.  They do not show an interest in the SB foliage -even though the leaves are high in protein.

We grow orach here - and although it is not a perennial it readily self seeds, volunteering everywhere.  All the birds like it.

I've planted numerous trees (Siberian Pear, Hawthorn, Manchurian Crab, wild apple) and shrubs that have a yield intended for the birds. But, they've only been in a couple of years and I can't tell you how the chickens will respond to the fruit.

Hope this is of use.

Marc
                  


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 2
Location: SE Louisiana zone 8B
I have started planting/planning (as weather allows) a new pasture area and forage garden for my chickens and goats...however have to cross reference everything and make sure it is horse friendly too....just in case she manages to find a way out of her area. We are also shopping for a milk cow and are taking that into consideration too.

For the chickens I plan on planting Buckwheat (not safe for white horses or goats...causes sunburn), lettuce, Chicory, Comfrey, Clovers, Mulberry, Millet, Grain Sorghum, Feed Corn, Sunflowers, Mangle Beets, Sugar Beets, and this summer squash...both summer and winter varieties. A lot of what I have and will be planting will be used for the goats too and have to be picked and stored. Last year I planted extra butternut squash, pumpkins, and sunflowers to feed as treats. When I give them the squash it looks like the scene from Jurassic Park when they feed the raptors...lol. I also purchased and am planting American hazelnuts/filberts for the goats. We have a large stand of live oak trees over their current field and the trees produce an abundant supply of very small acorns they seem to like. I put in two Pindo, or jelly palms. They produce between 50-100 pounds of edible fruit once they are a couple years old: I know parrots eat them, so figured that chickens wouldn't have too many issues with them either.

I got a small patch of alfalfa to grow here last year, but it required extensive irrigation and work to keep alive in our scorching summer heat. I buy an occasional bail of the hay now because I have a pregnant goat: What leaf pieces she drops the chickens pounce on and this is supposed to cause the yolk to turn dark orange (they also eat the seed heads off the goats hay).  For my location their is a crop called perennial peanut. The top looks just like a regular peanut plant but bigger and fuller and it bears few if any actual peanuts. Southern farmers are beginning to grow it as a replacement for alfalfa since it is nutritionally similar and better adapted to our climate. It is propagated through rhizomes, and I am as yet to find a good source for smaller amounts...enough for around 2 acres. Apparently it takes a while to establish, but produces its own nitrogen once it does.

I am also looking at putting in some Farkleberry/Sparkleberry (tree blueberries), mayhaw, and crab apples for the animals. I have an ever-growing list of plants to research and have to deal with a large area of shade that varies from dappled to no sun.

Beginning this year I am going to encourage the flock to graze in our orchard area as well. The trees are just starting to produce and not tall enough to wrap the trunks with wire, prune the bottom branches, and let the goats in...they could still reach the canopy by standing on them. I have read that allowing these two animals to graze the orchard can eradicate many pests in a matter of a few seasons...sounds like a win/win to me.


"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
~Albert Einstein
Ute Chook


Joined: Aug 05, 2009
Posts: 39
Haven't gotten a yield of berries yet from the Sea Buckthorn so I can't give you a report on that - but I hope they don't show too much of a fondness for the fruit as it is intended for human use.  They do not show an interest in the SB foliage -even though the leaves are high in protein.


My chickens love seabuckthorn berries. Since most are way too high up on the trees I lop some branches when they are ripe and they strip both berries and leaves in no time. They also eat whatever fallen leaves land in their pens in the autumn.
Same goes for Elaeagnus berries and leaves.

They also eat fallen willow leaves (the elongated ones), flowering and seeded catkins, and top fruit flower petals as they fall into their pen.
                                      


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 3
For anyone with acid soil I recommend pricing out some ag lime.  Albrecht performed quite a few experiments which demonstrated that health and pest resistance of crops could be maintained in very acid soils so long as sufficient calcium was supplied.  Calcium is usually the first cation to leach and be cropped off thus being replaced by hydrogen on the clay exchange sites.  Having a properly balanced soil is imperative if one wishes to grow healthy food for animals or humans.  And unfortunately, simply dumping tons of organic matter will not necessarily fix an out-of-whack soil  In some parts of the world it does, if the underlying bedrock that the organic matter grows in has the right minerals in the right proportions.  There aren't that many places in the world where this is the case.  To grow quality proteins one must get the calcium roughly right...
Dan Wallace


Joined: May 27, 2010
Posts: 41
My chickens go nuts over borage. May not be a perennial but it's definitely self seeding. Bees and hover flies love it too
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6430
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
132
The Siberian pea tree has very high protein (+/-35%), but I don't know how much feed you'd get out of a row.  The make good windbreaks, and provide a good fuel wood.

Although it is an annual, Quinoa is a good cereal choice.  At 12-19% protein, it makes an excellent chicken feed.  Thresh just enough to reseed next year, and let the hens thresh their own supper.  You will also end up with a nice supply of straw.
                          


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 32
Yes I've recently planted 2 types of mulberry (one everbearing) as well as comfrey. As well as crabapples on the way.
Clover and chickory also excellent, both come back after being chewed up.
Maybe a good pasture mix that suits the local growing conditions (drought hardy etc) for the main source.
helen atthowe


Joined: Feb 25, 2011
Posts: 7
Comfry and purslane were our chickens' favorites when I raised them. I love the idea of  mulberries as chicken feed! I just read in article in Mother Earth News Issue No. 239 page 101 where a poultry expert  recommends grains (like wheat and whole corn) instead of commercial feed, but cautions that if confined (rather than free-range) pullets will turn cannibalistic when they start to lay if not fed a high enough protein diet. Confined chickens make no sense to me, but does anyone have experience with this happening in confinement?

Helen
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
  i didn read the entire thread so perhaps this was touched on... As i understand it lots of things mentioned early in the thread would be fine feeds, and chickens can break open seeds, but in general they would do much better if you "cracked" the grains.

That said I have a perennial rye the tim Peters was working on. this particular strain (ive got others) was selected to drop its seeds. this is still a work in progress, but is fully perennial and will drop its seed as i said. In general you want grains to hold their seeds until you come to harvest....

Anyone willing to give this breeding work the respect it deserves is free to get some seed from me. It is fall planted....
                                              


Joined: Mar 30, 2011
Posts: 500
SILVERSEEDS wrote:
  i didn read the entire thread so perhaps this was touched on... As i understand it lots of things mentioned early in the thread would be fine feeds, and chickens can break open seeds, but in general they would do much better if you "cracked" the grains.

That said I have a perennial rye the tim Peters was working on. this particular strain (ive got others) was selected to drop its seeds. this is still a work in progress, but is fully perennial and will drop its seed as i said. In general you want grains to hold their seeds until you come to harvest....

Anyone willing to give this breeding work the respect it deserves is free to get some seed from me. It is fall planted....


these perennial ryes also build lots of biomass, and the stalks are loved by browsing animals, so its got potential as a pasture grass to it seems. atleast for me its been the best choice Ive trialed  so far for my area.
Brian Moolman


Joined: Apr 16, 2011
Posts: 12
Location: Port Elizabeth, Nanaga area, Eastern Cape, South Africa
Hi Paul,

Love your blog, site, vids, podcasts etc. I'm from South Africa and it's good to hear all the good permaculture stuff going down in the states, we need more of that here.

Anyway regarding this thread, I listened to Bill Mollison's 1983 PDC and he discusses this very topic. Apparently African boxthorn and coprosma repens are excellent perennial sources of seed and fruit for chickens, at all times of year there is seed under these two, according to Bill you cant dig a bit of soil from under a boxthorn to use in  a flower pot without getting new boxthorns, African boxthorn is regarded as a highly evasive weed in many countries but you know what Bill has to say about that.

Berries from the solanum genus (except deadly nightshades) like kangaroo apple and black huckleberry are eaten by chickens.
Apparently chickens won't let banana passionfruit hit the ground.
Chickens only eat acorns during that narrow gap in spring when acorns sprout.
Mulberries gives you 5 tones/acre of high protein berries, in spring the hens take their chicks under mulberry trees to eat the seeds from last season crop. I will hopefully be setting up a chicken rotation yard system shortly on our farm using some of these species.

Keep up all the good work, if you ever find your yourself in South Africa your are most welcome to visit.

Cheers,

Brian


"Any intelligent fool can make things bigger and more complex... It takes a touch of genius - and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
~Albert Einstein
John Sizemore


Joined: Mar 27, 2011
Posts: 96
Location: West Virginia/ Dominican Republic
Paul while this is not a self-harvesting system there is for me another option. If you were raising mushrooms on something like cattail stems or saw dust then the spent media can be fed to livestock, In Taiwan there was some studies that showed the natural immune boosting properties of the mycelium is used as a replacement for the antibiotics used in industrial poultry farming. I am not an advocate of antibiotics to force overcrowding but if you get the natural immune boost to range fed chickens then they should be super birds.
Mulberry leaves can be used for 60% of the diet of remnants. So the leaves can be used as rabbit food along with grass and worms grown under the rabbits.  As has always been discussed is the waste from one area should be feed stock for another.

I am the first generation of my family to grow up on the grid eating out of the super market. I hope to be the last.
Michael Newby


Joined: Apr 06, 2011
Posts: 112
Location: Mount Shasta, CA Zone 8a Mediterranean climate
    
    1
I've also been looking into setting up a mostly self feeding flock and was thinking about goji berries (aka wolfberries).  From what I've read, they have a pretty good nutritional value, including a decent amount of protein (about 12%).  They can also be dried and added to feed in the winter.


Do you Hugel?

I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.  ~Willa Cather, 1913

God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods.  But he cannot save them from fools.  ~John Muir

My Project Page: http://www.permies.com/t/15915/projects/Mnewby-Projects
                        


Joined: Jan 01, 2011
Posts: 40
Location: Berkeley,CA
With such a long thread it's hard to read all of the posts, but has anyone mentioned amaranth?  I know it's not a perennial, but it is a rampant self seeder and some of the heavier yielding varieties make so much seed with so little care that it is one of my favorite multi-purpose plants.  young plants are edible and delicious as a green for animals and humans alike, the seeds are high in protein and numerous, the stalks/leaves of some varieties can be used to make really beautiful dyes and it is a really lovely plant too.

I love the idea of using crab apple as feed as well, I don't remember who posted the idea, because not only do you get a good sugary feed, but a pollinator for every apple variety under the sun.....at least those that bloom at the same time.
                      


Joined: Apr 27, 2011
Posts: 56
Location: MONTANA, Bozeman area; ZONE 4
I suggest every take a look at Doyle's Thornless Blackberries.  They are a massive producer, a perennial, and an invaluable addition to any homestead methinks.

They need protection at 20 below.  So you can get 15 mil tarps very inexpensively at billboardtarps.com
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
Leah Sattler wrote:
those seed heads don't stay up high forever! rotating those chickens through an intensively grazed pasture would allow them to take advantage of the knocked over/trampled grass and scratch throught the manure. just a thought. as for ma nature.

I think it is faulty to believe that it is all designed to work together. some stuff makes it and some stuff doesn't. "ma nature" doesn't give a whip who dies and who lives species wise.  the earth exists and whoever adapts to the conditions wins the ability to reproduce and give another generation a chance to do the same. sorry that is a pet peeve of mine. gardeners who seem to think that there is some external force that wants their squash to grow and if only they can "balance nature" to please it then they those nasty weeds or bugs will leave it alone. As if "nature" cares whether that squash grows and/or we get to eat it.




it could. you don't know. its the atheist theist argument. and they are both faith based. you have faith its not that way, others have faith it is.
                    


Joined: Oct 23, 2011
Posts: 0
a few times in this thread it looks like we forgot the perennialness which was originally being sought after. being new to all this i often wonder about self seeding annuals. of course if everything is being grazed and having the seeds picked it will be tough to get things to reseeed, but if you have 2 chickens and a 3 acre pasture of amaranth, wouldn't there be a lot of amaranth next year?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6430
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
132
Yes it will.  You are talking a very low animal stocking rate.  If you had 200 chickens on that same 3 acres, it would just be a matter of time before the plants could no longer reseed at a sustainable rate.

I have heard estimates of 40-50 chickens per acre as a sustainable rate of stocking.  I have "rounded it off" to 43.56 chickens, which means 1,000 square feet per bird.  Higher stocking rates will eventually degrade your land.
                        


Joined: Apr 14, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: NE Washington State
I'm just getting started on an acre of chicken forage so I REALLY appreciate all your suggestions! I am putting some into my plan of attack.

I have found some wildlife food plot mixes that would make great bases for perennial chicken pastures. Here's an example of one for deer that would provide a long-season smorgasbord for chickens:

http://www.habitatnow.com/store/shop/product-detail.php?pn_product_id=22

There are several online and storefront companies that sell wildlife food plot mixes (look at wildlife habitat and hunting supporters). You might find a cheaper source locally or have the opportunity to mix your own. Where I live we have limited local resources so something like this is appealing. Because of the cost I might just plant a patch in each rotational paddock.


Encouraging others in the urban to rural transition
http://RuralLivingToday.com/blog
                        


Joined: Apr 14, 2011
Posts: 11
Location: NE Washington State
Have any of you fed cattails to your chickens? They are edible to humans and wildlife...wonder if they are beneficial for chickens?
John Polk
steward

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6430
Location: Moving to: NE Washington USDA zone 5 Western steppes to the Rockies
    
132
Wildlife feedlot mixes would be a good starting point.  Since this thread is dealing with chickens, I would suggest finding a mix that is designed for quail/pheasants/turkey rather than deer.  Once your hens have eaten 1/4 to 1/3 of the browse, move them to a new area.  That way, the plants will have an ample opportunity to reseed themselves.

A side benefit might be quail or pheasant for dinner once in awhile.
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
  Instead of quail or pheasant what about guinea fowl they have more pheasant like flesh than chicken. They have a lot of guinea fowl in France .
  i have heard pheasant is part of the hen family and that you can cross pheasants and hens.
  I have thought that  pheasants are not very good at survival, are not invasive and territory that is the home of the lynx in Spain might be stocked with pheasant to make up for the lack of the natural prey of the lynx, the rabbit, that is scarce because of the illness myxomatosis.  i have never seen pheasant in Spain. they have planty of grouse. Maybe there are too many eagles and falcons to make breeding pheasants worth while. agri rose macaskie.
                                                


Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 43
Location: 14519
Clover, I pull up handfulls of the small white clover and they eat it up!
Dandelions, especially the flowers.
BuckWheat after it seeds.
Regular grass they seem to like also.
They had some pineapple tonight that went south to soon.


Wm. Brookover~ Opinion's given at no extra charge
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
Cowpeas and Buckwheat come to mind and I would also encourage weeds that attract lots of insects.  Chicken eat more insects than plant matter if given the choice.  They will eat pumpkins too.  They love destroying pumpkins.  As far as trees go I agree Paul, Mulberry is the best choice.


"When there is no life in the soil it is just dirt."
"MagicDave"
rose macaskie


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 2134
     I have a lot of wild oats but my husband cuts the grass about three times a year that is when it is long, just before the seed ripens.
     This year i have thought more seriously than i usually do about making a big fuss next year so that the grass gets cut after most of the seed has ripened: This year i spent more time reflecting that grass seed of different types must provide a lot of food for fauna and we not only grow wheat and other food stuff on the great majority of the land, for us, not for the fauna but we cut all grass so that it cannot seed leaving even less food for fauna.
       I have been busy looking up the amaranth that Eric the red mentioned above, and it sound marvelouse as a provider of quantities of seed that is more healthy than most seed for us humans and for hens too, i suppose. One type of amaranth is the flower garden plant "love lies bleeding", that i think i sort of know from seeing it in gardens aparently all sorts the garden sorts included are good for eating and other types of amaranth photographed are familiar to me thought i thought i did not have a clue what this plant was.
      To my suprise i find Ii have a pretty  good ability to recall the look of  a plant, plants i hardly know i have ever seen before though i would never have thought that was the case a few years ago. Maybe we all do after years of hunter gathering . My mother did get me to do the weeding as a child, maybe that trained me to look at leaves and remember them.
   ONe woman writign about htem i should look her up again she is a permaculture person sasys she throws the seed in tfor her chickens and they seed the ground so it seems their digestion of these seeds in t¡not always perfect.
    I looked up seed for fauna and one person suggested that poppy seed was great for fauna so poppy seed for hens maybe, we put it on some types of bread.
   Ants eat seed dont they? The more seed you have the more ants for you hens. agri rrose macaskie.
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
Chickens are omnivores.  In the wild their primary choice of food are insects.  They love meal worms and red worms too.  Both are very easy to raise.  If I were able to have chickens I would propagate plants that attract insects.  The chickens will think it is Thanksgiving.
Tim Flaus


Joined: Jun 17, 2011
Posts: 17
Location: Moss Vale, Southern Highlands, NSW, Australia
Chickens are forest animals, so they are really adapted to rooting around in leaf litter under trees, not foraging on grasslands. They are also much happier when they have some overhead cover. So does a forest meet your requirements with the acerage? If so then you have a huge range of trees that will provide as much feed as your chickens could ever need, chuck in some decidious trees and the leaf litter should provide ample invertebrate protein as well. Have you considered acacia (wattles) species, they produce highly nutritious seed in massive quantities. Hmm a food forest, sounds very permie to me, maybe you could eat from it as well.

Ute Chook


Joined: Aug 05, 2009
Posts: 39
hupnupnee wrote:
Chickens are forest animals, so they are really adapted to rooting around in leaf litter under trees, not foraging on grasslands. They are also much happier when they have some overhead cover.


Second that, though forest edge may be more accurate.

So does a forest meet your requirements with the acerage? If so then you have a huge range of trees that will provide as much feed as your chickens could ever need, chuck in some deciduous trees and the leaf litter should provide ample invertebrate protein as well. Have you considered acacia (wattles) species, they produce highly nutritious seed in massive quantities. Hmm a food forest, sounds very permie to me, maybe you could eat from it as well.


You do have to consider location though. There is a big difference between a boreal coniferous forest and a sub-tropical or tropical one.

I'm in a temperate climate and my gang lives in different runs in a woodland copse, top-fruit orchard, soft-fruit orchard and willow coppice respectively. They do glean quite a bit in terms of fallen fruit, leaf litter, grass seeds, fallen catkins, berries, insects etc. but there is no way that would feed them in the winter (does not feed them in the summer either, but my densities are relatively high at about 10m2/adult bird plus chicks).
Whatever the case may be, the eggs definitely taste better with all these gleaned food items and the birds are healthier, happy to have shady spots when it's hot, sunny spots when it's not, and shelter when the weather is brutal and occupied chasing bugs and scratching around. Totally wide open grass runs are definitely unnatural for them (fear of predators). Falling food is a bonus.
Dave Bennett


Joined: Jun 25, 2011
Posts: 641
Chickens are recent descendants of Jungle Fowl originally from the rain forests of Asia.  When I had chickens I raised multiple bins of meal worms to feed them through the winter months.  Cheap and easy.  I could carry an entire large flat plastic bin into the coop and then dump it on the floor and my chickens would have a feast.  When they were finished I swept up the meal worm poop and put on my compost pile.  I also used vermi-composting of kitchen scraps indoors in the winter.  I fed most of those worms to my chickens too.  It really cut down on feed cost during those times when there was little for them to forage. 
 
 
subject: best perennial chicken feed
 
Similar Threads
forage for chickens
no supplemental feed? anyone?
Nutritional value of mulberry fruits ?
Chicken Fodder
Chicken coop for paddock shift
cast iron skillet 49er

more from paul wheaton's glorious empire of web junk: cast iron skillet diatomaceous earth sepp holzer raised garden beds raising chickens lawn care flea control missoula electric heaters permaculture videos permaculture books