Chicken Greens part 3
Phase two feedback
So the chooks are currently enjoying the fruits (well, the greens) of our phase 2 planting. This was mostly a hodgepodge of all the seeds we had left over towards the end of autumn, together with the first batches of the wheat, barley and oats mix that I’ve acquired in bulk, thanks to the advice of the kind people on the “Ballarat poultry buy swop and sell” Facebook page (which by the way is a very active and informative page on all things chook-related.)
So currently the little Sussex pullets (they’re not so little anymore – they’ve started laying) and ducks are enjoying the greens in Gaë’s coop’s run.
And meanwhile Tiara and his two hens are enjoying the first of greens on the Homeland side that we have opened to them.
We still have a few areas that are still fenced off, where the hodgepodge and wheat-barley-oats mixes are growing nicely. We will open those when the first batches have been polished, and then re-plant the first areas. On-going circle of life planting cycle…
But in order to keep up a constant supply of greens, we have had to plant some more greens, also to make the most of the winter rain. Hence phase 3.
The first area we planted was the market garden beds. The cover crop we planted last winter was a major flop, so I wasn’t keen to try it again, in case the mixture wasn’t suitable for our area. We have enough winter vegetables in the Homeland raised beds and Dreamland no-dig beds combined, so especially with the rabbit fencing now around these beds, I realised they can obviously also serve as chook fencing. So, it gave me a new idea – I can plant a greens crop for the chooks there over the winter, and they can polish it off, work it in and fertilise the no-dig beds before our spring planting starts. So that was all planted with the wheat-barley-oats mix.
Then I had another brainwave! The whole access way to the back work area of Dreamland is basically wasted space, and it is already fenced in on 3 sides. When we, or even the massive trucks, drive in there for deliveries, we never drive on the middle, as the path is dead straight. It is very seldom that we or the trucks drive in there anyway. So I’m doing this major experiment to plant chicken greens up the middle of the track. There are two challenge we need to overcome here. The first one is that it is not irrigated (yet), but the winter rain should be enough for the wheat-barley-oats mix. If this works well, I’ll irrigate it in the spring, because it is very easy to temporarily keep the chooks out there with a New Zeeland gate (also called a Hampshire or wire gate). The second challenge is that this area is not fully rabbit-proof, so we’ll have to see how that goes, but hopefully now in the winter there are enough greens around for them to munch on.
Well, it’s all been planted, so let’s see how this lot goes.
Do you let the chooks into the greens a bit at a time, so they always have a some fresh?
Nancy, exactly yes – I use temporary (easy to bend & roll up trellis) fencing, so I can open up small patches at a time for them. SO far they haven’t cottoned on that they can hop-fly it. If you open it all at once, they demolish, I mean gobble, it all at once! “Always” is a bit of a stretch 🙂 but yes, we’re aiming for a steady supply.
I was wondering about when to let them into the oats-barley-wheat mix so someone on the local permie Facebook page commented that you can let them in there while it’s still young too, then they eat it as greens. So I’m going to try opening a small patch of that soon, and leave other bits to mature to seed in spring.
We have to sow the next batch soon – it’s a constant cycle.