Winter shade makes bad chicken pasture

Snow on the chicken pastureA second flaw in our winter
forest pasture
became clear over the last few weeks —
shade.  I thought I was clever when I put the chickens’ pasture up
against the hillside where steep slopes and a powerline cut make it
difficult to grow vegetables and impossible to grow fruit trees. 
At least that open space would be used for something.  But I had
forgotten that the north-facing hillside stays frozen pretty much all
winter.  Due to several small to medium-sized snows, the pasture
has spent nearly all month under constant snowcover.  That means
that our chickens have nothing to scratch at even if I hadn’t let them
overgraze the pasture down to stubble.

Sunny spot with melting snowAt
this time of year, I usually have the flock in the sunniest part of the
yard, and I’m considering adding a new pasture down there for the
winter months.  There would be no way to make it contiguous with
their current pastures, but it might be worth building a second coop
and herding the chickens through the garden to give them a bit of
winter sun and greenery.  As an added bonus, I could fence in a
few fruit trees and get the chickens’ help managing insect pests. 
Either way, I’ll keep the current pastures for summer use since the
shady spot is great during sunny days, and our
mulberry and Nanking cherries
are getting well established and will
fruit in a year or two.

Our homemade chicken
makes forest
pastures even more worry-free.

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