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Re: Fowl forage
In a message dated 6/3/99 3:42:25 AM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
<<So now, who out there has fiddled with the infamous fowl forage system
(chicken, duck, goose, etc? I'm not talking about "wouldn't it be nice"
scenarios, I mean really matched up plant with bird to witness the results.
I've been fiddling with my own now for a few years, adding more plants
each season and so on, and have collected a good bit of info. straight from
observation. However, I want to push the envelope of fowl forage
Can anyone tell me about types of plants that they've actually
fowl picking away at? Any insider, first-hand advice on constructing such
peculiar systems? Any wacko, nutz design ideas to share?
with chickens, the challenge is to find something that the do NOT
eat. Then you can protect it from scratching. And if it bears fruit, figure
out a way to savage a fraction for your direct consumption. So far, I have
found that my chickens do not eat sage. I have seen them eating (green) oak
leaves, blueberry leaves, oregano, banana (of course) leaves, ad infinitum.
they do not eat my tea (Camelia sinensis) and feijoa plants. Forget
blackberry. To date, I have not seen chickens eat conifers. I imagine they
will eat the winged pine nuts, etc., as well as the next bird. Bear in mind
that they have continuous grain in the poultry house and continuous bread
(scrounged as waste) in the yard.
Probably the most interesting thing that they do is to wade into
the water to eat aquatic life. I never saw this before, but then I never
raised chickens in a swamp before. Of course the ultimate food for them is
the duckweed that spontaneously grows here. They will wade for it, if the
water is nearby or if I am working further away. (We have had a bit of a
predator problem, and there are sectors where they will not go unless I am
I often use a pool net to harvest duckweed for the chickens. I get
many invertebrates as well, tiny crustacea up to fresh water shrip and on to
medium size crawdads, kind of the peanuts in the crackerjacks, insects (I've
not seen the giant boatmen eaten), small fish (e.g. mosquito fish),
mudpuppies, and I suppose tadpoles if they get any. Like the aquatic and
semi aquatic birds around here, which I suppose they emulate, they like to
work advancing and receding water for the concentration of small food
animals. (I'd be happy to sell a hen to train your flock, but I don't know
how we would ship it!).
They DO NOT like to go into deep grass, except to hide when in
stress, though even then they prefer brush. To harvest insects in deep
grass, just mow it. Geese and ducks will harvest small roots (e.g. evening
primrose) and tubers (e.g. chufa) as well. Back when I was an unrepenitant
tiller, they used to follow me like children after the pied piper as I
rototilled the garden. The first crank on the tiller brought a poultry
stampeed: chickens, ducks, geese. The omnivores ate mainly invertebrates
turned up while the geese worked the ground for root and tuber parts.
We have a back issue of TIPSY (well, they are all back issues), that
has a poultry forage section. If you like, I'll look it up for you. We
stillhave several cases of the journal on hand.
For Mother Earth, Dan Hemenway, Yankee Permaculture Publications (since
1982), Elfin Permaculture workshops, lectures, Permaculture Design Courses,
consulting and permaculture designs (since 1981), and annual correspondence
courses via email. Copyright, 1998, Dan & Cynthia Hemenway, P.O. Box 52,
Sparr FL 32192 USA Internships. YankeePerm@aol.com
We don't have time to rush.
A list by topic of all Yankee Permaculture titles may be found at
Elfin Permaculture programs are listed at the Eastern Permaculture Teachers
assn home page: http://home.ptd.net/~artrod/epta/eptahmp.html