Beekissed

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Since I arrived back on this parcel of land, I've been trying to cultivate a richer pasture for the chickens. My Mom mows the place and she and Dad always scalped the land each time, their thinking is the shorter you mow, the less you have to mow.

So, I had to change that thinking and finally got her to mow on high, especially during the hotter parts of the summer, so that the grass isn't so traumatized, so that the good grasses can reseed themselves, etc.

Then I frost seeded white dutch clover, which the chickens love, has high protein, grows well from spring to fall and even beyond. It's also native to this area, so easier to grow than trying to plant other types of nutritious legumes. It's also a honeybee attractant...right now mine is covered with honeybees and there are no beekeepers in this area. Those are all wild/feral bees. This attracts pollinators to my garden and orchard.

Better grasses provide more cover for more bugs, which also brings even more protein rich provender for the chickens~toads, lizards, baby snakes, etc.

If you have a yard where you want to free range your birds, try giving them more variety than just lawn grasses. Also, if you can do it, plant shrubs and trees that will give them a leaf carpeting under which to hunt for bugs, grubs and worms. Creating areas of bug reservoirs can increase their natural diet...bales of hay or straw, old logs, rocks, etc. will hide many such creatures. You can sit those around and turn them over for the birds every now and again.

If you rake your leaves for coop bedding, leave one section unraked for the fall/winter/early spring hunting by the flock. I leave one whole section of the yard, especially areas by the coop, alone so that they can turn those leaves over again and again and again. Even the crows hunt for bugs in those areas.

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Meat chicks grazing clover plots....

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Garden rows that were overseeded with clover at the end of the garden season provide nutritious grazing for fall pasture free ranging....

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Hinotori

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I don't even have a true lawn. I love clover in grass, have since I was a kid since it's soft underfoot. I don't remove the plantain or dandelions. The chickens like to eat them. We have lots of moss. Chickens apparently eat that too. It's gone dormant in the heat and the grass is heading that way. The clovers and trefoil keep it looking green until later in the summer. We don't water here since for 10 months it's very wet.

Logs work very well for chicken snack accumulation. Pill bugs will gather under them and chickens fight over those. I roll the logs every few weeks.
 

lcertuche

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Our place is three acres of lawn, ponds and surrounded by woods. We have happy yard-birds too! A lot of wild fruits like blackberry, passion fruit, berries off poke plants, mulberries, elderberries and off thorn bushes and hickory nuts if any get crushed. They spend most their days scratching up leaves and pine needles for bugs and of course the caught off guard lizards, frogs, toads, snails and small snakes. They eat the grass and seed off the grass and weeds. Thank goodness most of the year they can find something to eat. I too will turn over boards for them to grab all the wiggly goodies. Bee I think this is the way God intended birds to eat.

By the way @Beekissed are you the one that did the video on free-ranging Cornish Crosses on BYC? Whoever posted it, I found it so very entertaining. If it was you it would be good on SS. To anyone that thinks meat birds can't free range the video proves they can.
 

Beekissed

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Our place is three acres of lawn, ponds and surrounded by woods. We have happy yard-birds too! A lot of wild fruits like blackberry, passion fruit, berries off poke plants, mulberries, elderberries and off thorn bushes and hickory nuts if any get crushed. They spend most their days scratching up leaves and pine needles for bugs and of course the caught off guard lizards, frogs, toads, snails and small snakes. They eat the grass and seed off the grass and weeds. Thank goodness most of the year they can find something to eat. I too will turn over boards for them to grab all the wiggly goodies. Bee I think this is the way God intended birds to eat.

By the way @Beekissed are you the one that did the video on free-ranging Cornish Crosses on BYC? Whoever posted it, I found it so very entertaining. If it was you it would be good on SS. To anyone that thinks meat birds can't free range the video proves they can.

I don't know if you saw mine or not, but I've done a couple. Apparently that video has traveled far and wide, for some reason....maybe up until then folks thought they wouldn't range?
 

Beekissed

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This winter just may be a great winter to frost seed some more nutritious grasses and legumes in the yard and meadow. There are areas I'd like to replant to white dutch clover again.
 

Chic Rustler

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Awesome! I like to turn mine loose after I mow. They aren't real good at catching all the bugs yet but they will get better
 

milkmansdaughter

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I had to go look up frost seeding... We have a lot of white clover already in our yard. Someone did a great job prepping this yard for chickens long before we got here.

I'm wondering what others chickens favorite yard plants are beside clover? I've got a whole section out back that can be left to overgrow for bees and chickens, but I don't want to invite too many snakes to the area.

@Beekissed, @lcertuche , @Hinotori, @sumi and others... do you have a list of favorite yard foods planted for the chickens?
 

Beekissed

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Mine also love tall fescue, particularly in the fall when it's went to seed...I always keep Mom from mowing it then, as the chickens graze that seed like crazy.

They also make good use of what I always called saw grass, but any grass type that has a sharp, serrated edge and a tough leaf. They seem to use this for a natural dewormer, much like people attempt to use DE. I've opened up many a gizzard that has pieces of this tough saw grass in it...low in nutrients, high in cellulose fiber, it's not being chosen for it's tender tastiness, I'm thinking. You probably don't have to plant that, I've never seen a lawn that doesn't have it.
 
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