Fallowing a chicken pasture

Chicken going through a pophole

Last year, I concluded
new species into a chicken pasture doesn’t work unless you can keep the
flock out of that pasture for several months
.  Chickens love tender
new growth, and they’ll happily peck up baby clover and grass plants
before they get established.  So I’m continuing to set aside
Chicken Pasture 6 in 2013 in hopes of establishing a good colony of

To back up, we fenced
this pasture in 2011, but by the middle of the summer we discovered
that the plants coming up in the trees’ shade weren’t able to handle
much grazing.  By the beginning of 2012, the ground was pretty
much bare, so I seeded buckwheat followed by
to improve
the soil.  This winter, I let our flock eat up the oilseed
radishes, and by early February the ground was once again bare and
ready for clover planting.

Clover seed

Although we can get
white and red clover seeds more cheaply at our local feed store, I
opted to try out some fancy varieties purchased online.  This
mixture of New Zealand White Clover and Strawberry Clover is supposed
to be low-lying and good in orchards, able to deal with shade and/or
sun.  The recommended seeding rate is a bit high for clover (20 to
25 pounds per acre), so I scattered the entire pound of seed in our
twentieth of an acre pasture.

Lichen-covered stick

After giving the pasture
the rest of the year off, I’m hopeful we’ll have a delectable stand of
clover for the chickens to start grazing in 2014.  I’d like to do
the same in two other pastures, but I’ve got to weigh the benefits of
food now versus food later, so it seems to make sense to take one spot
at a time.

Moss and lichen

Meanwhile, isn’t this
the most beautiful stick you’ve ever seen?  Lichen and moss atop
lichen atop bark….

Our chicken waterer is the perfect fit for
pastures since it never spills on uneven ground.  A bucket of
water can last a medium-sized flock for a month!

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