Of all the annuals I’ve
planted in the chicken pastures, the most appropriate seem to be
butternuts. (Actually, I didn’t plant them — volunteers
came up from the compost pile.)
The chickens were absent
from the pasture long enough for the squash leaves to get big and
spiny, so when the flock was rotated in, the birds mostly left the
butternut plants alone. They did damage the developing fruits so
much that the squash won’t be able to be harvested for humans — the
day after taking the first photo, that butternut was about a quarter
eaten by our smart chickens. But that’s a good thing since the goal of
plantings in the chicken pasture is to make chicken food.
In fact, the butternut
vines that made a jailbreak and tried to enter the main garden (which I
then trellised up the pasture fence) will probably make some extra
squash for us. So I guess our butternut was a dual purpose
planting — some for the chickens and some for the humans.
What failed? Most of
the sunflowers were too shaded to do much, but a few made big
blooms…then got trampled by our ravenous hordes.
cherries came up and
got lost in the weeds. They might still be there — I’ll know
come fall if their distinctive fruits stand out.
Grain amaranth and pearl
millet either didn’t come up or didn’t grow fast enough to reach above
the weeds. I planted all of these annuals in spots scratched bare
by the flock, but it didn’t take long for the wild pasture plants to
regain their toehold on the empty ground.
Despite the butternut
success, I still think that planting
perennials and building the diversity of the chicken pasture is a
better strategy than
trying to plant annuals specifically for the chickens. But it’s
good to know that at least one plant can stand up to moderate chicken
explored their new pasture.