Last year, I was
considering planting warm season grasses to give our chickens something
to nibble on during the inevitable summer slump. I’m glad I
During the drought in
the early part of this summer, all of the bluegrass died back to its
roots and the warm season grasses that had been there all along popped
up. Crabgrass (shown above) was represented, but the most common
grass is an as-yet-unidenfitied-by-me species that has leaves branching
off from an erect stem a bit like miniscule, non-woody bamboo.
(Maybe bermuda grass?)
Our warm-season grasses
grew pretty well despite the lack of rain, but the chickens turned up
their spoiled little beaks. When rotated to a regrown pasture,
the flock made straight for the patches of white clover, which they
pecked nearly bare (as you can see in this second photo), then they sat
around waiting for me to move them to a new paddock.
Now, it’s clearly not fair to
tar all warm season grasses with the same brush. For example,
last summer our flock was very keen on a
large warm-season grass that I thought was Johnson grass (but which
wasn’t), and I’ve
heard reports from southerners about a warm season grass (that I can’t
remember the name of) being relished by their flocks. (I hope
some readers will chime in with information about warm season grasses
their flocks eat happily!)
But it seems like our
wild warm season grasses aren’t something to be encouraged. Good
thing that the bluegrass popped right back up once a bit of moisture
hit the ground. Maybe the solution for our summer slump is simply
water, either held in the soil by increasing the organic matter
content, or supplied from above.
despite hot, dry days.