Helpful tip for happy healthier chickens!
No matter how big or small your poultry area is, you can easily create an area that will allow your birds to always have access to fresh greens.
I recommend using 2x4's to construct the frame and depending on how wide you build it, could determine the type of wire/netting you can use on top. Our frames are actually salvaged tables from a greenhouse that we purchased but they work great for this purpose. They were covered in 2x4 welded wired as well as 1" chicken wire. The 1" wire is the maximum size that you would want to use, otherwise the chickens will be able to get their heads through and pluck the entire plant. The goal is to allow access only to the grass that grows up through the wire.
You should plant a variety of seeds so that something is always green throughout most of the year. Most legumes are great but the list is very long as to what works well. Barley, millet, wheat, oats, buckwheat, and rye are all great. Winter rye is especially hardy and will stay green longer, even in the coldest zones. You could also easily construct a small hoop house or low tunnel over the top of your frames which would allow many more seed options. You can search the web for "chicken forage seed" or click on the following links for an example of some we've used in the past;
Most clovers don't tend to grow very tall so they may not be the best choice for this scenario unless your able to move your frame to a new spot thereby allowing complete access. If you do decide to move the frame, I would advise you to only do so once the dirt has had ample time to settle. How quickly this happens will depend on your soil type but with plenty of rain it will happen more quickly. If the dirt is still loose from when you seeded the plot, the chickens will quickly destroy it and it will then become their favorite spot to take a dirt bath! However, you could then inoculate that spot for a future planting with litter from the coop and build up the organic matter of the soil. Doing so will not only make the next crop grow like fire, but it will also improve the texture of the soil allowing it to settle better which will help combat your chickens scratching efforts on the next go round.
Even with all the space we provide, these are key to keep the birds from having full access to the plants and dirt beneath.
Our birds are kept in a manner that could define humane by anyones standard. Living their lives under the sun with plenty of pasture to range on, each breed is maintained in fenced paddocks that are approximately 3000 sqft and house around 8 to 12 birds. We've adopted a "hoop coop" method as their housing and plan to use them exclusively due to their many benefits…cost, movability, ventilation, pest
Muddy Feathers Farm is located in the hills of the Ozarks of NW Arkansas. At an elevation of about 1900ft and situated on a southwest facing mountainside, a beneficial breeze is always at work, helping us in maintaining healthy birds.
A natural love of gardening and dreams of self sufficiency was the driving force behind our current status, chickens really weren't in the cards at all! Fate however ensued and now we almost have more compost that we can use…almost!
If a fellow gardner were to ask for advice on improving their success, chickens would likely be my answer. It's hard now to imagine gardening without them and they LOVE to play in the dirt as much as anyone!
Muddy Feathers Farm
resistance, ease of building, etc...
Even though the birds are free throughout the day, the coops still need to be moved about every 3 days to keep a "pile" from accumulating beneath the roosting poles.
The extra work involved with our approach at husbandry may not be necessary or even feasible for everyone, but we're blessed to have the available land and time to care for our flocks in this manner while also enriching the land at the same time.
With this setup the birds appear healthier and everyones no doubt happier, including us!