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forage for chickens

Kelda Miller


Joined: Jun 30, 2007
Posts: 763
I'm planning a planting just outside of a chicken area, I'd like to have plants that hang over/grow through the fence and have yummies for the chickens.

What are some of their favorites?


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
Any kind of fruit. They also like the bugs that the fallen fruit attract. 


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Kelda Miller


Joined: Jun 30, 2007
Posts: 763
sweet.
so then my list starts to look something like this:
plums
service berries
autumn olive
strawberry tree
elderberry
mulberry
dwarf cherries
(I am trying to fit this into an existing landscape and not get too tall. Plus *I* like to eat fruit too, so I'm thinking of trees where they fruit over an extended period, or I won't be sad to lose a few fruits to the chickens. )
more ideas  for that criteria?
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I would have to try and train grapes along the fence line . you could do ground cherries (also known as gooseberries I think) each year in the lower portions. What a fun project!
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
This is one of my most favorite topics.

Some good ones have been covered.

Siberian pea shrub is another.

Mulberry is extra good.

I think raspberry is good because while they will take the low berries, they will leave the high berries for me.

Peas and lentils.

I wonder if chickens might like goumi and seaberry.

I wonder if there might be a high calorie leaf forage that would be good.  A really good browse of some sort.

I would think most grains would be good.

Gaia's garden has lists of stuff in the back that make for good chicken browse.  I just wish I knew which perennials made for the BEST chicken browse!


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Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I didn't even think of grains. I just assume that the chickens will destroy anything grass like in a confined area. I'm sure that some planted along the fence line would grow through and offer some feed. what about millet? you could also have a rotating pen and get one planted and put the chickens in there to munch while you got the other one planted again.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I would think that millet might be too small for full grown chickens - anybody tried feeding millet to chickens?
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
millet has been (recorded) used to feed poultry since roman times and was one of or the first cultivated grains I believe. It has been feeding chickens a long time. people talk about the incredible vision that halks and eagles have and forget that chickens are predatory animals too and have incredible eyesight (non-predatory birds also have excellent eyesight for that matter). They can find the teeniest tiniest morsel of food in a pile of dirt while patiently scratching through it. They wouldn't have the slightest problem finding millet I'm sure. It is mainly grown for birdseed in the U.S. after all.
Kelda Miller


Joined: Jun 30, 2007
Posts: 763
and siberian pea shrub (as well as others), do they drop well? I've only met siberian pea shrub once, it has fat pods like fava beans, but super juicy inside. If for the 'chicken fence line forage' I'd love for it to be able to drop on its own. I don't want to go around managing bushes so that chickens can have food before it dries into hard seeds on the plant (again, like fava would do it if it wasn't plucked).

Although the 'management' wouldn't be all that bad: whenever I'm with the chickens just whack the bushes a lot with a handy stick...
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I'm pretty sure that the siberian pea shrub pods pop open by themselves when they are dry and scatter their seeds.

But I do wonder about the amount of food they provide considering the amount of space they take up.

Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
how silly that I hadn't thought of sunflowers! if they are allowed to mature a bit they can provide shade in a pen while awaiting their maturation.
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
sorghum. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/afcm/sorghum.html
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
Regarding Mulberry Trees (and you all may know this already) you have to make sure you plant the right gender to get fruit. I love to eat mulberries, but didn't know this. I let a seedling grow in my backyard and wouldn't you know it... wrong sex, NO fruit. So I now have a big bushy shade tree that tent caterpillars get to feed off of...but I don't! Lesson learned!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
I was unaware of that!!! good to know as I have considered planting a mulberry tree also. I know where one is that I could probably dig a few. Is there any way to know which gender is which before its mature enough to fruit? would it be best to plant several to give a better chance at getting a fruiting one?
Gwen Lynn


Joined: Sep 04, 2008
Posts: 736
That's a good question, Leah! I know they sell them sexed because the fruitless variety is often recommended as a shade tree because it's not as messy. But telling whether or not it's the right sex by looking at a free range seedling would be a good trick. I got a few Mulberry seedlings around here, (I think the Mockingbirds "plant" them for me!) but I can't seem to make that determination, even if one lets me look up under it's leaves. LOL!

After the 1st time mine produced it's poofy, weird little "flowers", I still didn't know what was going on until I googled it. I do remember reading that you didn't need to have both sexes in close proximity to each other, but I don't remember the exact distance.

I used to teach riding lessons at a local stable & there was a big fruited Mulberry planted next to the stand we would teach from. Me & the mockingbirds used to "fight" over the best berries! I was sad the day they cut that tree down! I'm sure there probably was a non-fruiting mulberry on the property somewhere, but I don't know where. Got to find out if the goats will eat the mulberry leaves. If so, even a fruitless tree would be useful! 
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
"Flowers: Mulberry trees are either dioecious or monoecious, and sometimes will change from one sex to another."
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/mulberry.html

Interesting. My grandparents had a mulberry tree in SD. I remember climbing it as a child and trying to reach the mulberries. I also remember my brother dumping a bunch of them down my shirt and squishing them.
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Just googling around on sexing mulberries, and found this article on "Safe Sex Landscaping" (it's mostly about air pollution in the form of pollen) at http://www.consciouschoice.com/2000/cc1306/safesexlandscaping1306.html ;

Apparently, there's no way to tell if dioecious  plants are M or F until they flower.  This article has a couple of interesting bits if info that I need to tuck away in my plant info:

"ioecious male shrubs ... produce abundant ... pollen. Dioecious female trees and shrubs ... produce flowers, seeds, and fruit, but they shed no pollen. Female-only plants do not have stamens — the male pollen-bearing sexual parts — and so produce no pollen at all."

And ...

"... Individual pollen grains are so tiny that they can not be seen with the naked eye.  The grains of windborne pollen are light and dry and are negatively charged. Like heat-seeking guided missiles, these tiny, dry pollen grains — often shaped like a sharp-spined, minute ball of cactus — seek out moist, receptive surfaces.

"Mother Nature designed female plants to receive these grains of pollen.  Female flowers stand up in the wind. With their large positively charged surface areas of moist stigmas, they attract, hold, absorb, and ultimately use the male pollen. Female plants are nature’s air-scrubbers, trapping ambient pollen grains and leaving the surrounding air free of this allergenic form of biopollution."

I was going to look for a source of mulberries, but I guess I'll have to plant more than I need.  Elsewhere, I also read where you can graft an opposite-sex branch on a tree for pollination when you don't have room for two trees.

Sue
                              


Joined: Nov 01, 2008
Posts: 12
Most "fruiting" mulberry trees/shrubs sold are grafted to ensure a flavorful fruiting variety (exactly the same genetically as the parent).
You could dig up the free seedlings and use them as rootstock.

Here is the list I have come up with for plant to use for chicken feed- please add to it if you can!


PLANTS FOR SOWING IN ROTATION
Sunflower, amaranth, corn, millet, buckwheat, chickpea, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley,  clover

TREES and SHRUBS
peach,
banana (chop up the stems),
fig,
jaboticaba,
grumichama,
Brazilian cherry,
pears
Black Locust- Robinia
Honey locust (pods are high protien and tree is nitrogen fixing)
Cornus,
sorbus,
Nanking cherry
Sand Cherry
Siberian Pea Shrub- Carragana spp.
Apple
Plum
Raspberry
Mulberry  (fruit is relatively high protien)
Sea Buckthorn
Apricot
rosa rugosa
Plums
Raspberries
Gooseberries
Saskatoon (Service berry)
Sea buck thorn
Sand cherry
persimmon, pawpaw, feijoa, strawberry guava, tamarillo, custard apple,


GREENS  and/or SEEDS
dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
plantain (Plantago spp.) (high in calcium for chickens)
chickweed
arrowroot,
New Zealand spinach syn.  - Tetragonia tetragonoides, 
nettles,
brassicas (radishes, mustards),
alfalfa,
clovers- Strawberry clover,  Ladino Clover, White Dutch Clover, Red Strawberry Clover
chicory,
purslane
Buckwheat,
black oats,
Perennial Cereals
pumpkins,cucumber
squash
Sunflowers,
amaranth,
corn,
chard, cabbage, kale,
spinach, lettuce, broccoli...in fact any of the green leafy vegetables.
sesame, sunflower,
pigeon pea
Flax,
Birdsfoot Broadleaf Trefoil,
Red Cowpeas
Strawberries
Radishes
corn salad
lambs quarters
dock (Rumex spp.)


Vines
chayote,
passionfruit
grapes
peas
climbing spinach-  Ceylon Spinach


Herbs
Bergamot
Clary sage
Nettles
Yarrow
Comfrey  (limited portion of diet- liver toxin)
borage (self-reseeds freely)
Feverfew
Wormwood (Artemesia absinthe)
rue (Ruta graveolens)

 
POND PLANTS
Lemma


Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Random notes

Oats:  I have read in a couple of places that they are difficult to husk, even for chickens, who don't really like them that much.  Where you can just cut the heads off wheat and toss them into the chicken run and they will have a good time picking them loose, the same cannot be said of oats.  But if anyone hears of a small, hand-operated, inexpensive oat huller, please post.

Sunflowers:  I wish there was a quick, simple way to hull them.  While I do grow them, and they do get some, the hulls will bulk up their crop without any nutrition.  What I we need is a small, hand-operated, inexpensive oat-huller and sunflower seed huller.    I know, I know...

Comfrey:  I have read multiple places that livestock instinctively won't eat more of a medicinal/toxic plant (they are often one and the same) than they need unless they are forced to eat it due to lack of other options.  Pat Coleby said she watched one of her sheep or goats eat a single rhubarb leave periodically, just one.  Since nothing happened to the goat, she assumed that it knew what it needed better than her.

Amaranth is useful in both the grain and leaf forms.

Quinoa is also a grain crop that is useful for both poultry and humans.  I've sprouted the kind found in bulk food bins, but I haven't planted any.  It's on my list.

Sue
                              


Joined: Nov 01, 2008
Posts: 12
Sue,

Thanks for the info.  I have never had chickens and am just planting/planning for the day I will introduce them!

As far a comfrey- I have read that the milk of goats who eat comfrey may have sufficient toxins to be harmfull to people drinking the milk.  Now the goat didn't die from the comfrey or maybe even get sick but that doesn't mean that it's milk or meat for that matter isn't harmful to the humans that consume it.  As we all know "you are what you eat" and "what you eat has eaten!"

I see you point about the sunflower seeds.  I wonder sometimes when I read advice to plant things such as Siberian pea.  Do chickens really eat this?  All the reading in the word is not as good as actually observing it yourself!

I read one place chickens like vetch and another place that its toxic for them?

Thanks for sharing your own experience!




paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
For ages I've had this thread open on my desktop and I keep meaning to comment ...

So much to talk about!

Peaches:  so this would be only with those that have fallen on the ground?  I have never raised chickens around peaches.  Do they eat the flesh readily?

Same question for figs.

Brazilian cherry:  I tried to find out what this was via google and just found a lot of stuff about wood.  How does this differ from other cherry?

Black Locust:  An amazing tree in so many ways - but chicken feed?  Aren't the seeds too hard for the chickens to break through?

"Honey locust (pods are high protien and tree is nitrogen fixing)":  Again, are the seeds soft enough for the chickens to break?  And, as an FYI:  I remember reading something by Toby Hemenway that said that honey locusts do come up with their own nitrogen, but they don't share like other n-fixers do.

"Mulberry  (fruit is relatively high protien)":  that is excellent info about the protein!  I never would have guessed!

Sea Buckthorn:  chickens will eat the fruit? 

I've got lots and lots more questions here, but I gotta run!
Leah Sattler


Joined: Jun 26, 2008
Posts: 2603
my chickens tear into any fruit including peaches. its kind of interesting to put 1/2 a water melon out and watch them neatly pick out a perfectly hollow rind. perfect for a bowl....
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Here's some info on the Brazilian Cherry.  It says that it has tasty fruit, so chickens would probably like it, too.  They like sour cherries well enough!  Dave's Garden site indicates it grows in USDA zones 10 & 11, but couldn't find if it's limited to them.
http://www.daleysfruit.com.au/fruit%20pages/brazcherry.htm

Chickens seem to eat most fruits, although I've never offered citrus. 

Fig... I've got some small figs.  I'll try giving the chickens some when they thaw out...

Black Locust seeds aren't very large, not much more than 1/8" diameter and flat.

I've never seen Honey Locust seeds, so I had to go to Google Images again.  The seeds themselves appear to be large flat beans about 5/8"-3/4" long.  Literature says the seeds have 'impermeable' seed coats, so I am assuming that means it's hard enough that a chicken isn't going to take bites out of it. Cattle and hogs are said to eat the seeds, but other animals like hares and rabbits, gray squirrels, fox squirrels, white-tailed deer, bobwhite, starlings, crows, and opossum eat the plants and fruit, but don't mention if they also eat the seeds.

The following article (quite informative) also indicates that "The honeylocust has wide genetic variations that have enabled improvement through selection. The northern races show relatively good winter hardiness and southern races bear fruit that is much more nutritious for stock feeding than that found on the trees in the north." 

And
"About 60 percent of the seedlings grown from thornless honeylocust seed are thornless."
http://www.na.fs.fed.us/spfo/pubs/silvics_manual/Volume_2/gleditsia/triacanthos.htm

A study in China on forages for chicken indicates that the seeds, leaves and fruit of the Sea Buckthorn is suitable for livestock and pouletry.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/32537v1xhl43j0r2/

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Sue!  Excellent info!  I really like the bit about 60% of the thornless honey locust are thornless.  That seems to be something that comes up a lot.

Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Yes, this was the first place I had seen any indication of what kind of percentage reverted back to the thorned type.  They also said there was a shrubby type that was thornless, but I couldn't tell if it was always (naturally) thornless.

However, if you did have enough livestock to clean up the dropped pods (which apparently fall over a long period of time), and only multiplied your honey locusts by cuttings, which would grow true to type, you might not have the problem you mentioned about Mollison's experiment in Australia.  (I found  that article, by the way.)

Sue
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
I've heard that if chickens eat too much fruit, they'll stop laying eggs for a while.  It makes sense, because fruit is mostly carbohydrate with very little protein, and they need protein to make eggs. 

I wonder if naked oats would make better chicken feed than the hulled kind?  I'm going to plant some for our use this year (my daughter and I have celiac disease and can't eat wheat), and could share with the chooks.  I'll be growing some wheat for them, too, though.

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Kathleen, if you're going to grow oats, maybe this thing would be of value to you, a roller mill from Lehman's:  http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=1145&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=oat+roller

Also, you might look into naked or hullless oats.  Most oats have a very tight husk that is difficult for a homesteader to remove.  Naked oats lose their husks during threshing.  Johnny's, Seeds of Change and Bountiful Gardens carries them.

Sue
Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Susan Monroe wrote:
Kathleen, if you're going to grow oats, maybe this thing would be of value to you, a roller mill from Lehman's:   http://www.lehmans.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=1145&itemType=PRODUCT&RS=1&keyword=oat+roller

Also, you might look into naked or hullless oats.  Most oats have a very tight husk that is difficult for a homesteader to remove.  Naked oats lose their husks during threshing.  Johnny's, Seeds of Change and Bountiful Gardens carries them.

Sue


I will look into that roller mill, although I have two grain mills, and can just coarsely grind the oats for cereal. 

I have some naked oat seed -- got it from Fedco.  Am anxious to see how it does here -- our climate is pretty good for oats, not optimal for wheat.  But the wheat seed I have is some that sprang up here after we had the whole yard rototilled -- evidently at some time this was part of a wheat field.  The seeds must stay viable in the ground for a long time, because the area was subdivided and built up at least twelve years ago.

Kathleen
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
As I'm trying to figure out what would be excellent chicken feed in the winter ...  I'm especially focused on what might a chicken eat that they would harvest themselves ...

I was thinking about winter keeper apples that have finally fallen off of the tree ... or grains that are still on the stem ....

A really big one came to me:  cow poop.  And I'm not kidding.  Think about it:  cow poop turns out to be great pig feed as is.  Well, why not chicken feed?  The rumen in a cow is like a big, organic hay fermentation engine.  And the cows don't fully digest all of the calories.  So cow poop is fermented hay.  It sounds like it would be great chicken feed. 

Anybody know? 

Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Paul, have you read any of Joel Salatin's books?  He runs his chickens through the pastures behind the cattle, and they scratch up the cow pies, and eat fly larvae that have hatched out.  He's never mentioned that they actually eat the cow pies themselves, though -- maybe if they were eating some grain, as often a lot of the grain (especially if fed whole) will go right through the cow. 

Kathleen
Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
Kathleen, I was just thinking about Salatin, myself.  But I don't think he feeds grain, does he?  So there wouldn't be any grain to pick out.

I wonder if Salatin has an email address, and Paul could ask him? 

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Kathleen,

I have read most of Salatin's books.  I have his latest one and have only browsed it.    In fact, I bought it from him and he even signed it.  I shook his hand.

Salatin talks about how they eat the bugs and the like that are growing in the cowpies - but, of course, there won't be many bugs in the winter. 

I suspect that a lot of the cowpie is good food for chickens, but I am not certain of that.  I am more certain that it is good food for pigs.  I read somewhere that it is an excellent food for pigs.

Sue,

Salatin feeds good ole organic chicken feed.    If I remember right, the pasturing cuts his feed bill by 20%.  I would like to explore a space that cuts the feed bill by 90%.



Kathleen Sanderson


Joined: Feb 28, 2009
Posts: 969
Location: Near Klamath Falls, Oregon
    
    1
Yes, I'd like to cut my chicken feed bill, too.  Of course, we all live in different climates -- what grows for someone in the Deep South isn't likely to do well for me in Oregon's high desert -- but there are still some general principles.  The lists that have already been posted look helpful.  We just need to keep in mind that in order to make eggs, chickens do need quite a bit of protein.  I'm giving one pen of chickens any extra milk, sour milk, and so on -- so far, with good results (three White Leghorn hens in that pen, and usually getting three eggs a day from them).  But I haven't measured how much commercial feed they are eating, so I'm not sure yet how much difference the surplus dairy products are making.  I think I'll have to figure out some kind of scientific experiment, maybe with my new batch of chicks (as they'll be more uniform than the motley assortment that's already out there).

Kathleen
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
I think there are two important angles on this.

1)  most chicken food per acre per year, and

2) most chicken food per acre in January

I would really like to see a top 10 list for each of these.  But I'm not even sure where to start to try and figure this out. 

I suspect that at the top of the list for #1 is gonna be mulberry.  Maybe wheat.  Maybe Sepp's russian corn. 

And at the top of the list for #2:  Kale?  Fall field peas/lentils that dried and are still sitting out there at chicken head level?  Sunflower seeds?  Winter keeper apples that are still falling off the tree?




Susan Monroe


Joined: Sep 30, 2008
Posts: 1093
Location: Western WA
I ran across information on home-grown diets for people with no or little meat as a source of protein.  I'm assuming that the same info would hold true for chickens.

Eating a combination of legumes + seeds, or legumes + grains, or legumes + nuts will provide complete protein. Remember all those Mexican meals that always had beans and rice? That was legume + grain, a complete protein*.

Plants that contain complete proteins in themselves are soybeans, amaranth, quinoa, hemp, and spirulina.

Many of these that you find in bulk in grocery stores or health food stores sprout very well, and would be a cheap source of seed for growing in a small plot.  You wouldn't know the specific variety, and it may not be absolutely perfect for your area, but it could be a great experiment, even if it is just for your chickens.

I believe it was in Gene Logsden's book Small-Scale Grain Raising where he mentioned that some people will harvest the stalks of grain and bundle them, and hang them in their barns.  In winter, they toss the whole stems/heads to the chickens, serving as both feed and entertainment.

*A complete protein is one with all nine amino acids.

Sue
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
In another thread, somebody referenced this site that seems loaded with excellent info.


First, check out feeding your chickens sprouted foods:  http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Sprouting.html

And growing feed:

http://www.themodernhomestead.us/article/Growing-Poultry-Feeds-1.html


And, specifically, winter wheat:  www.metafro.be/leisa/2000/164-13.pdf

Just trying to do a little cross pollinating.....
                              


Joined: May 09, 2009
Posts: 16
Location: MASSACHUSETTS 35 MI W OF BOSTON
I am new to the forum, although I am not new tothe ideas and practices, I moved to the burbs not by choice 17 yrs ago , birth of son , man dated by "now" ex husband  any way i am so stoked, I have found my chicken coop I gave away, still in tact and with the fencing, The person I gave it to did pheasant for awhile, now it is vacant, I am getting it back, and I cant wait birds are so much pleasure. It will be a project to move it back as i am maleless, and guys are just stronger and tie things down better. So I guess I will be hiring someone,,, cant afford it but I am so excited about it.The poop will fertilize, the leftover food will feed,,,,, they are fun to get to know...It will add to the other things I am doing and in a short period of time I will have things to barter with...... Thanks for the opportunity to check out like minds..... of a sort, we are all very different


TRAPPED  IN 2 WORLDS
Joel Hollingsworth
volunteer

Joined: Jul 01, 2009
Posts: 2103
Location: Oakland, CA
Paul: What do you suppose it would take to keep visible-sized invertibrates growing in cow dung over the winter months?  It might be possible to put together a very rich system of annuals around that, at the same time.

My thought would be to pile up a deep windrow of, say, manure and wood chips, in a mix that doesn't get hot enough to kill worms.  If it takes a while to do this, perhaps let potatoes grow vines out the sides of the windrow.  Leave a deep straw mulch, and grow winter squash in it.   Plant root veggies like rutabaga and mangelwurzel as the squash dies back, maybe radish nearer the chickens. Innoculate the end facing the chickens with worms. When they start to need it, give the chickens access to that end of the windrow.  As they scratch for worms, they undermine the vegetables, which fall into their reach.

It would help if this all were on a slope that helped the chickens really clear the windrow down to the ground.  Twigs placed straight up in the windrow might also help keep a sheer face, although it might take years of experimentation to get this system really running smoothly.  It might be worthwhile to have a "hot" core in a windrow that's mostly pure browns.  It might be necessary to chop up the squash vines, or build little clamps to keep them preserved until the chickens harvest them.  It might be worthwhile to place a fence over the top after the squash have finished flowering, so that chickens don't find their way up and clear off the top too early.


"the qualities of these bacteria, like the heat of the sun, electricity, or the qualities of metals, are part of the storehouse of knowledge of all men.  They are manifestations of the laws of nature, free to all men and reserved exclusively to none." SCOTUS, Funk Bros. Seed Co. v. Kale Inoculant Co.
paul wheaton
steward

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 14946
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
    ∞
Well,

How cold of a winter are we talking about?

I see a few problems. 

For the center of the pile to get hot, it will need oxygen.  So you might run a pipe in there to bring in the oxygen.  But that air is damn cold!  So it cools your pile so that it doesn't get hot enough.  But wait!  That isn't a very accurate scenario ....

Jean Pain's piles were super huge and kept a good hot temp all winter.  Although I'm not sure how cold his winters would get.  But it does seem that with a massive enough pile, the inside should be insulated enough to keep a certain amount of warmitude.  But!  Now that you have a warm center, it does seem reasonable that there will be critters thriving at just the right temp between the too-cold outside and the too-hot inside.  But! (again)  - it would seem that the temp would have to hold moderately steady to get the whole reproduction thing working.  And will the chickens scratching at the pile change that?

I guess I have to say that my feeble brain is not coming up with much in a solution space here.

Probably not the answer you were hoping for.


                          


Joined: Oct 31, 2009
Posts: 250
Location: Marrakai Northern Territory Australia
not exactly forage but wormwood or rue grown around a chook pen helps deter parasites such as mites, feas and ticks

Bird


Anyone who has never made a mistake
has never tried anything new
    -ALBERT EINSTEIN-
 
 
subject: forage for chickens
 
cast iron skillet 49er

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