Chickens are an integral part of homesteads and family farms today. It’s no wonder that people are paying more and more attention to making sure they’re not only healthy but happy. The way to grow chicken feed at your garden make sure they are eating well.
At least my herd definitely does better when it’s full. I have heard from other chicken farmers that feeding their birds green vegetables reduces disease, probably due to the nutritional content of this food.
The grain you give them is important, but the greens and scraping materials they consume are equally important.
In fact, many home gardeners have taken on the task of growing their own professional plants to feed their flocks.
Why Chickens Scratch
Whether you let your animals relax or not, there are many benefits to letting them out foraging. The nutrients they get from farming are varied and essential.
But even if they can’t really go wild in your yard or garden, giving them time with a piece of living plant matter has its benefits.
When chickens eat on the ground, they often “grab” the soil, moving the ground and vegetation to find new, hidden food. Even if you feed them in a fairly sterile environment (like catching pellets on the sidewalk), their intuition will prevail.
They will scratch – exposing more soil and eventually killing the plant’s root system.
Which Plants Make Good Greens?
Many people refer to vegetables grown specifically for chickens as “feed,” a term you’ll hear a lot among farmers.
Chickens have their taste preferences. Some of it is very personal – for example, I was told that chickens love banana peels, but mine was never a fan.
There are also some universal favorites that make great scratching boards for your birds.
Any of the following plants are suitable for growing in your garden, chicken farm, or small apartment (which we will discuss in a moment):
Since chickens will eat most of these plants before they are fully grown, it is important to plant them densely and provide the seeds with a good base for germination and growth.
Chicken Runs and Garden Plots
Here’s a simple guide to planting directly in the ground:
If you are seeding flocks, you may be seeding the entire area at once.
If you have access to a pasture or yard, measure about a square foot per chicken. You can surround any property with barbed wire or other inexpensive fencing material.
Prepare the soil, plow or use a hoe to remove all weeds and surface vegetation. You can then cover the prepared area with a flat layer of fresh compost.
Put the mulch into the soil, add a little extra moisture, and then add the seeds. You can then cover the entire area with a layer of topsoil.
Because the seeds are spread more thickly than if you were planting them in your own vegetable garden, you don’t have to worry about planting spacing carefully.
You can even use a coffee can with a hole in the lid to spread the seeds over your plot.
Water the area daily until the seeds sprout, usually between three and four days for the earliest varieties in the mix.
You want the vegetation to grow to about 5 inches tall before the chickens eat it.
Depending on how many chickens you have and how aggressive they are when scratching, your patch should last a week or more.
Growing in Trays
While running and plots are convenient from spring to fall, your bird will benefit from chewing on the greens even in the colder months.
For this reason, many chicken hobbyists repeat the above process, but place all soil and seeds in a clean plastic tray. Just make sure your tray has drainage holes.
Growing seed trays requires a warm place in your home, close to the sun. If you’re lucky enough to own one, you can place the thoroughly sanitized bowl in a greenhouse shelving system or an actual greenhouse.
Depending on how big your flock is and how much your birds like their greens, you may need to start a new tray every other day or even every day so you have a tray ready to feed your birds at any time. The next few days. That way, your cute bird won’t go a day without a treat.
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Another way to provide fresh forage to your herd is germination.
Germination refers to growing a crop in a shorter period of time, and gardeners often use seeds rather than forages.
For example, you can try any of the types listed below, or a combination of them: Alfalfa, clover, barley, lens, green beans, soybean, oat, wheat.
Place the soaked grains and beans in a shallow rectangular plastic container with a hole in the bottom and let the water run through without losing the soaked beans or grains.
Place this container in another waterproof container and lift it slightly to allow the water to drain from the first container while remaining in the second container. Empty plastic medicine bottles make great stilts.
Thoroughly rinse and stir beans and grains twice a day, allowing all water to drip into a closed container. The rinsing step is important to prevent mold from entering the sprouts.
Sprouts should appear within a few days, and most experts say sprouts are highly nutritious after 4 to 6 days of growth. When it’s the size you want, take out all the sprouted parts and let your bird enjoy it!
Learn more about human sprouting in our article on our sister site Foodal.
Better Greens for Birds
The higher quality vegetables you provide to your flock, the better your eggs will be. In terms of taste, farm eggs are way ahead of the competition.
According to a study by S. Mattoli et al. al. Research published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that chickens fed alfalfa or flaxseed sprouts had increased levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, vitamin A and other healthy substances when laying eggs.
Vegetables are also a great way to keep chickens happy. Happy birds perform better, suffer fewer diseases, and are more likely to live in harmony without pecking or fighting.
Do you have any leafy greens you think your feathered friends will love? Try one or more of our methods and let Answer The Question know in the comments section if your layers like their new treat.