Chickweed pasture

Spring chicken pasture

While I’m profiling
individual pastures
I thought it would be worth taking a look at chicken pasture 5. 
If I had the space to put chickens elsewhere, I would have seeded
grasses and clovers here last fall and
the ground fallow just like I’m doing for chicken pasture 6
.  This spot ended up
pretty bare at the end of 2011 due to moderate shade combined with
overgrazing, and the seeds I planted in 2012 mostly seem to have
perished since I continued grazing while the seedlings sprouted and
tried to grow.

Red clover and chickweed

White clover and chicoryBut simply being left alone
for the winter did wonders for the pasture.  Some of the clovers,
grass, and chicory seem to have survived after all, and the bare spots
in between became home to a dense carpet of chickweed.  I’m sure
the latter will disintegrate by summer, but it’s currently turned
chicken pasture 5 into our laying flock’s favorite grazing grounds this

On a grass-and-clover
pasture, the layers tend to get bored with the offerings after a day or
two, then spend most of the rest of the week lounging with only
occasional foraging behavior.  But our chickens ate pretty much
straight through the week on the chickweed pasture.

(I’m envisioning a
permaculture chicken keeper planting a whole pasture just in chickweed
for her flock’s springtime pleasure.  It might just be crazy
enough to work if you could then plant something perfect for fall in
the same spot once the chickweed was gone.)

In one door and out the other

About a fifth of chicken
pasture 5 is much more sad-looking since our birds passed through this
area all winter on their way to grazing in the woods.  The photo
above shows the overgrazed area (on the right) along with chicken
pasture 3 (on the left), depicted on moving day.  I just open the
door to a new paddock and the flock is bright enough to run through the
coop and onto greener pastures.  When they start regretting
leaving the chickweed behind, I’ve already closed up the relevant
pophole.  No more of your favorite pasture for two weeks, guys —
it needs time to regrow.

A chicken waterer at the far end of a pasture
is a tried-and-true way to tempt your flock not to hang out on the
coop’s doorstep all day.

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