Saturday, June 21, 2014

Gardening for chickens

I learned a long time ago that when I plant my garden every year I need to plant what we will eat, not just what I want to grow. It sounds so logical, but all those pretty plants and seed packets tend to suck me in and next thing I know I have things planted that look great and grow great but I just can't use them all! 

Let me explain....kohlrabi. Yes, it actually is good, but we cant eat more then a little bit so when I buy a pack of 4 seedlings it is way too many. Especially since they are all the same age, so they are all ready for harvest at the same time. It's just too much. Same with pumpkins, hot peppers and a few other things. 

Gardening for chickens

Some of these things I pass on to the chickens which is great for cutting the feed bill. I talk about that in the post Free Feed: Garden Rejects. I also grow many plants just for the chickens. Some of it we don't use like Amaranth (though we could eat the leaves). Others are just an overabundance of something we like. Here are a list of easy to grow, high producing crops that I grow just for the chickens...
In no particular order: zucchini, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, amaranth, millet, pumpkins, melons, broccoli, lettuce, sunflowers, sweet peppers & berries. Many of these I consider cost free since it's very easy to save seeds for next years planting. 1 seed can turn into several pounds of free feed! I don't know about your chickens, but mine eat over 3 tons of feed a year so the more free feed I can get, the happier it makes me. Plus the chickens love fresh veggies!

Most of these require very little prep work, they can be thrown to the chickens fresh from the garden or simply split open and set on the ground for the chickens to enjoy. While the chickens can eat things like carrots & kohlrabi, they require too much prep work before feeding them to the chickens. A zucchini can be split in half and the chickens will eat it down to nothing. Carrots need chopped up into smaller pieces and in my opinion just take too much effort. If I'm chopping carrots I might as well can or freeze the extras for our use. Things like melons and cucumbers don't preserve very well, so all the extras get fed to the chickens.   

The chickens love the fresh produce and I love seeing the feed bill go down! What about you....do you grow any specific plants for your chickens? If so, what do you grow?

~L

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5 comments:

  1. My chickens love kale. It is easy to grow even in our cold climate.

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    1. I tried growing kale this year and didn't have any luck at all! I'll have to try again. thanks for the tip!

      ~L

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  2. Never thought of chard! I'll have to try that in my fall planting. Thanks!

    ~L

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  3. My chickens eat any leafy greens! They adore spinach and mustard greens.

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