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The ladies investigated the flat first, but wouldn't eat.

Chicken Forage Mix: The Feeding

Awhile back, we started planting a special blend of legumes, grasses and greens from Peaceful Valley Farm for our hens to forage, and we wrote about it in June. The day of truth came when the mix had grown tall enough to give to the ladies.

Would the chickens like it? Would they eat it? Would they ignore it? Here’s what we found out:

The ladies investigated the flat first, but wouldn’t eat.

The seed mix didn’t germinate as thickly as we would have liked. But that didn’t stop the gals from looking on in wonder. One by one, they drew nearer to check out the mysterious gift.

Diving into the forage mix

Biddy, the Black Australorp on the right, is the food tester of the group. If she says it’s okay, the rest go for it. She gave the “beaks-up” and they dove in.

It didn’t look like this for long.

It only took about half an hour before the tray had been almost entirely excavated of soil and all that remained were wisps of sprouts strewn about the yard. We didn’t expect that. I guess we’ll have to plant more flats, more often.

In the meanwhile, they are being feed Bagrada bug-infested kale and over-ripe cantaloupe that ripened while we were away on vacation. At least someone is putting it to good use.

Hey chicken keepers: do you plant forage mix for your hens? Any suggestions to share here?

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Kathy

    We’ve had our chickens about 4-5 years now. We currently have 19 hens. No roosters. We did not want to deal with … is there a baby chick in this egg? The chickens eat us out of house and home but we love them. I’m wanting to grow more food for them. We have some acreage and will be planting lots of variety for them cause we’re tired of buying the grain and pellets. They love zucchini and ours lasted for 6 months once picked. I would put it in our food processor and make it sized for them to eat. We will grow extra zucchini’s this year. I think I am going to grow the grass mixture you spoke of. Our hens have to be in a pen. We have too many coyote’s and dogs that can get through our fenced property and get to the hens. Because we keep them in a pen, they go through the grass way too fast. Now they’re on dirt. Now you have to feed them more cause they don’t have the bugs or grass to feed off of. The dirt is hard. No bugs can get through that! Forever struggling to keep them fed, but sure do love the eggs we get. No processing, no hormone injected eggs for us!!

    1. Christy

      Thanks for sharing, Kathy. We’d love to be able to grow a larger area for our hens to forage, but for now the trays make sense. “The chickens eat us out of house and home but we love them.” Hear, hear!

  2. Rosalinda

    I recently purchased the same forage food. I’m building a two-by-eight grazing frame so that the chickens only eat what is above the hardware cloth as suggested by garden writer Vern Nelson. The frames protect the roots so that it survives to continue growing. After 3 1/2 years my grass is all gone due to heat, dog, chickens, and my reluctancy to water it. I was going to amend the ground with compost but maybe I need a potting soil if you didn’t have a good germination. What kind of soil did you use? Previously, I have grown wheat from wheat berries sold in my market. They totally love it.

    1. Christy

      What a brilliant idea! I will have to try that grazing frame. For our little flats we did use bagged potting soil. I think my problem was planting either too deep or not using enough seed. The seeds that were closest to the surface germinated well. As for potting soil, I’m a fan of Gardener’s Gold, a Master Nursery Garden Center product. Some folks may rave about E.B. Stone, but I don’t find it to be a very good product.

  3. April Bright

    I plant a cover crop of legumes after I harvest a row of vegetables. It helps the soil and the chickens. I give the crop a hair cut when it is about 2 feet tall and throw it to the chickens. They love it. This invigorates the cover crop to continue growing. I grow one zucchini plant just for the chickens. I let the zucchini get really big and fat then slice it open and let them go wild on the seeds and flesh. Chickens are great garbage disposals. love your blog. 🙂

    1. Christy

      Excellent ideas, both of them! I love that your chickens get a zucchini plant all to themselves. It’s a great reminder for those who get sick of zucchini by mid-summer. Someone else will definitely enjoy them.

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