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Chicken Garden?

Posted by tasymo zone 5 ( on
Mon, May 26, 08 at 12:56

A few years down the road, when my DH inheirits his Folk's place, I intend to have a nice little flock of chickens, a veggie garden and various fruit trees and berry bushes. I'd like to try growning a plot of grains, herbs and grasses that I can harvest and dry for feed over the Winter for the chickens. I'd like to keep purchased feed to a minimum if possible. I know chickens will eat comfrey, so that's on my list, as well as flax and sunflowers. What about broomcorn? Any other suggestions would be great! What do you all think of this notion? Is it even feasible? How big a plot do you think I'd need for a small flock of maybe 12 chickens? Thanks! Kathy

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Chicken Garden?

Look into Siberian pea shrubs. From what I have read, they make a fine feed for chickens, and- if you are planning on enclosing a specific area for the chickens, they make a nice, thorny hedge to surround them.

RE: Chicken Garden?

Thanks Fleurgrl! Siberian pea shrubs sound feasible. I love flowers, especially perrenials. I even found some seeds on ebay! I wonder if they can be started in pots and transplanted later?

RE: Chicken Garden?

Yes, they can be started in pots, but don't try to hold them in small pots for too long, as they dry out fast and die (guess how I know?).

Keep an eagle eye out at yard sales for an older book called Small-Scale Grain Raising by Gene Logsdon. It's long out of print and highly desirable used (expensive if you can find it), but it's still in some libraries, so you might be able to take the time to copy out useful info. It is CRAMMED with info on growing small plots of grains for people or livestock. Ask about an Interlibrary Loan at your local library.

There is a similar-title book by someone else, but I haven't read it yet. It may be useful, and is probably much more available.

There is also the Backyard Chicken website, with lots of useful info on chickens and other poultry.


RE: Chicken Garden?

Thank You Sue!
When I googled Logdon's book I found a website where I was able to download it for FREE!! I think I'll try starting my own Siberian Pea Shrubs from seed. Kathy

Here is a link that might be useful: Free download site

RE: Chicken Garden?

Okay, then it's still there at the Australian site for free.

I went there before I posted, so I could add that link, and couldn't find it. But they do warn you that you can only download it once. I guess they remove it from your view if you did. I just went back there and I still can't see it.

For people who want to download it, go to the bottom and hit 'I agree', and then go to the Agricultural Library, listed alphabetically by name.


RE: Chicken Garden?

I raise chickens and goats together and must say I was surprised at first when I'd cut black locust branches for the goats and put them in the pen that the chickens would run over and eat it up like crazy. Great abundant source of fresh greens...I just cut the tender suckers which are prolific.

RE: Chicken Garden?

Chickens also really love hard squashes, like pumpkins, which could be grown and then stored in a cellar or cool area of the home.

RE: Chicken Garden?

One thing that chickens love is hanging greens. You could grow a few things right outside their pen. Then you could get a large dollmaking needle and thread a string through the cabbage or lettuce (etc) and hang it in their pen. They love to peck at it and will eat it down in short order, then they play with the string.

If your chickens are penned in a yard, providing entertainment such as this helps to prevent pecking and cannibalism.


RE: Chicken Garden?

I do this with cabbage in the wintertime in the coop. I have an old wire coat hanger that I poke all the way through the cabbage and it is then tied to a cord that hangs from the top of the coop. It gives them something to do in the winter. Kind of reminds me of chicken teather ball. LOL

RE: Chicken Garden?

our neighbors have chickens and they LOVE- go crazy over- the tops of strawberries, mushy berries (that are still good but the kids won't eat), and other kitchen scraps..

RE: Chicken Garden?

Wow! Thanks for all the great suggestions! I'm happy to see more activity on this board, too. For awhile there, I thought it had been abandoned!

RE: Chicken Garden?

This is exactly the information I have been looking for. I have read that one acre can support approx 1 to 2 chickens w/o supplemental feed. Of course it depends on the available "range" forage. Here is a list of species I have read may provide good forage. Please let me know if you can add to the list or if any plant won't work!

Sunflower, amaranth, corn, millet, buckwheat, chickpea, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, clover

peach,banana (chop up the stems), fig,
jaboticaba, grumichama, Brazilian cherry, pears Black Locust- Robinia, Honey locust (pods are high protien and tree is nitrogen fixing)
Cornus, sorbus, Nanking cherry, Sand Cherry,
Siberian Pea Shrub- Carragana spp.
Apple, Plum, Raspberry
Mulberry (fruit is relatively high protien)
Sea Buckthorn, Apricot, rosa rugosa
Gooseberries, Saskatoon (Service berry)
Sea buck thorn, persimmon, pawpaw, feijoa, strawberry guava, tamarillo, custard apple,

dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), plantain (Plantago spp.) (high in calcium for chickens)
chickweed,, arrowroot, New Zealand spinach syn. - Tetragonia tetragonoides, nettles, brassicas (radishes, mustards), alfalfa, clovers- Strawberry clover, Ladino Clover, White Dutch Clover, Red Strawberry Clover
chicory, purslane, Buckwheat, black oats, Perennial Cereals
pumpkins,cucumber, squash, Sunflowers, amaranth, corn,
chard, cabbage, kale, spinach, lettuce, fact any of the green leafy vegetables.
sesame, sunflower, pigeon pea, Flax, Birdsfoot Trefoil,
Red Cowpeas Strawberries
Radishes, corn salad, lambs quarters
dock (Rumex spp.)

climbing spinach- Ceylon Spinach

Clary sage
Comfrey (limited portion of diet- liver toxin)
borage (self-reseeds freely)
Wormwood (Artemesia absinthe)
rue (Ruta graveolens)


RE: Chicken Garden?

I keep two chickens (Australorps) in a generous pen under a mulberry tree. An experiment I tried this year was sowing a bed (about as big as a cemetery plot) with lettuce seed for the chickens. I have been cropping that plot for about four months, just pulling off handfuls of leaves and the occasional plant daily - the lettuce is sown very thickly. I also grow collards for the chooks. They also receive chicory, endive, kale, amarynth (leaf and grain). I can't claim to be fully sustainable as these chickens also receive a scratch mix in lean times. Lettuce plot actually looks attractive - there is usually little sign the next day where I pulled leaves and plants the day before. Jaz

RE: Chicken Garden?

The little I know about Permaculture (I'm just a beginer) seems to suggest that, rather than growing something special for the chickeroos, think in terms of what you have already growing that they can eat the scraps of.
I get limp old greens from the local grocer free for my girls and boy. They really love corn on the cob, and grapes, also anything that has seeds, like melon and cucumber. They will eat a watermelon rind right down to the green outer skin.
I would think your own veggie garden rejects would be fine, too.
Finally, if you can, let the little sweeties out for an hour a day. I let mine out about an hour or so before dark and they go home to bed without my having to herd them. They love it.

RE: Chicken Garden?

Haven't seen anyone mention BSF yet. That's short for Black Soldier Fly larvae. They will breed and grow just about anywhere, harvest themselves (go up a little ramp), and eat as much waste as you can feed them. A study (sorry can't remember where I read it) showed that chickens can thrive quite well on a diet comprised of up to 25% BSF. We just started 'growing' them for our 9 hens and the fish we hope to eat someday.
Also, I have a friend from Taiwan who plants various veggies outside of her chicken pens every spring (Chinese cucumber, gourds, etc). They grow thick and lush due to the natural chicken fertilizer, and provide shade/cover from the harsh Texan sun (they grow up the south side and over the top metal chain-link). Then the fruit drops off into the pens as it ripens and the chickens get fresh veggies. She does nothing but spray water on the veggies once or twice a week.

RE: Chicken Garden?

Broom corn was mentioned. Of course you can give the chickens the seeds, and still harvest the tops for brooms. Or you could plant a different variety of sorghum, one of the syrup canes and feed them those seeds and then press the juice out of the stalks and make syrup. Either way you get 2 crops for one sowing.

RE: Chicken Garden?

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 10, 09 at 11:13

I've heard of growing 'chicken kale', not sure what variety that would be but our hens do like kale.

Logsdon's book was recommended to me a while ago so I was glad to find out it was available for download. It took some searching - it's listed under Homesteading - but the good news and bad is that it is going to be reprinted by Chelsea Green and is therefore no longer available for download.

Logsdon, Gene. Small-Scale Grain Raising. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1977.

A thorough rundown on producing homestead cereals. Gene based most of the information in this book upon his own experience. Although the extensive where-to-buy-it information is quite dated, the book's general techniques should remain useful indefinitely. In September, 2008, Gene Logsdon contacted this library to report that a major US publisher, Chelsea Green, is coming out with a new edition of his book, scheduled for spring, 2009 in N. America. Meanwhile, to assist the process this book has been withdrawn and will not be again availble on this library website unless it goes out of print again. TEMPORARILY OUT OF PRINT.

chelsea green

  • Posted by paulns NS zone 6a (My Page) on
    Tue, Mar 10, 09 at 11:20

found it, 29.95 US

Here is a link that might be useful: small scale grain growing

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