Chickens favorite pasture foods

Chickens on pastureAfter two weeks on their
spring pasture, we rotated our flock onto a new area. Their old pasture
was still quite well vegetated, but after a week I started to notice
the chickens eating grass, which I figure means they ran out of the
good stuff.  Time for my favorite part of chicken pasturing —
to see what the flock flocks to on new ground

Chicken eating red cloverChickweed remained a favorite, but two
new plants made an appearance on
the top of our chicken taste test list — red clover and
fleabane.  I’ve read that some people plant white clover in their
chicken pastures, but our chickens had a choice between red and white
clover and demolished the red while ignoring the white, so I think I’ll
change my clover planting plans.  Our rooster was especially
interested in a young fleabane rosette and in picking violet flowers
— he thinks everything might be food, though, so I’d take those
preferences with a
grain of salt.  The ladies followed his lead to pick at the
fleabane, but didn’t seem nearly as interested in the weed as they were
in that red

Chicken scratching through brown grassI’ve noticed in both pastures
that spots which had been home to the
annual (and invasive) Japanese stiltgrass and thus had a grassy mulch
with no living plants make good scratching spots to hunt for
invertebrates.  I’m not suggesting that anyone plant Japanese
stiltgrass in their pasture, but I think we can mimic this effect by
letting the chickens degrade a pasture to the point where there are
some bare patches before moving them on.  Of course, accumulations
of leaves at the edge of the pasture were also quickly scratched over.

Patchy chicken pastureI plan to keep the chickens
in this new pasture about two weeks, just
like I did on the last pasture, and then hopefully rotate them to a
third pasture if we’ve got it fenced in time.  This second pasture
is in a shadier spot and has more weeds than grass, which looks less
lush to the human eye but I suspect will be tastier to the chicken
beak.  I probably should consider cutting back our ladies’ rations
to compensate for all of the forage they’re currently getting — our
hens are starting to look fat and their crops are always bulging full.

Our flock enjoys unlimited
clean water from their POOP-free
chicken waterer.

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