Grains in the forest pasture

Rooster eating beansWe
went out of town for four days a couple of weeks ago, and without their
daily dose of garden scraps, our flock got interested in the
and beans
.  In
addition to eating up their usual storebought feed, the chickens
consumed every single bean and buckwheat kernel in the pasture, even
scratching the vines up well enough that I could easily
winter wheat into the soil for a spring grain crop

Although the grain
paddock certainly didn’t cost me much work, I can’t help wondering
whether a system of perennials wouldn’t be a better use of the
space.  The paddock only fed six chickens for four days, so I’d
need a huge patch if my goal had been to feed the flock grain all

Chickens working around a mulch pile

On the other hand, our
pastured hens are finding lots of invertebrates to munch on (especially
as I
mulch and compost out of their pasture
.)  They look healthier
already, and are laying an average of 3 eggs per day among 5 hens at
the moment even though I have them on 2/3 rations.  For the sake
of comparison, at this time last year, we were getting the exact same
number of eggs per day from our current flock, were feeding them half
again as much, and the birds were all a year younger.  Clearly,
cutting back on laying pellets doesn’t harm egg production when the
pasture is so bountiful.

Our flock stayed well
hydrated while we were gone using our
homemade chicken

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