Chicken pasture maintenance

Mowing the pastureSpeaking of things
I was wrong about
here’s another example — mowing the
.  Last
spring, Mark took a look in my pastures, saw the grass shooting up
toward the sky, then pulled out the lawn mower.

“Wait, honey!” I
begged.  “Don’t mow their grass!  I want the chickens to eat

Fast forward ahead a few
weeks, and
the plants
were hitting the bloom stage
, becoming too woody for
delicate chicken stomachs to digest.  We ended up with
unproductive pastures that summer because I let the grass go to seed,
which slowed its growth to a standstill.

Cutting out a stumpSo, this year, I changed my
tune and begged Mark to mow the pastures.  (He also cut out some
stumps and dug up some dock to make the mowing go more smoothly.) 
My new plan is to mow each pasture as soon as the chickens leave,
cutting back the plants the flock didn’t like as much (which would
otherwise be encouraged by being ignored by chicken beaks).  If
necessary, I’ll mow some pastures twice between visits, but I hope to
be able to simply rotate the flock quickly enough that they’ll always
be on tender new grass with one mowing per rotation.

Meanwhile, it looks like
I should take Mark’s other pasture concerns to heart since he seems to
have more of an eye for chicken pasture management than I do.  The
fences are already becoming overgrown with Japanese honeysuckle, which
provides a safe spot for chickens to hide in but looks like it will
tear our chicken wire down in just a few years.  Any ideas for
honeysuckle removal other than ripping it out by hand?  Even more
important — ideas on keeping the invasive away?

I like to put a chicken waterer at the far end of each
pasture to tempt the flock further from the coop.

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  1. Marilyn April 15, 2012
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