Chickens in the ragweed forest

Looking up through ragweed

The photos above and
below show what chicken pasture 2 currently looks like — a nearly
impenetrable thicket of five to eight foot tall ragweed.  This is
what you get when chickens eat the pasture bare over a long, cold
winter, and none of your

Ragweed pasture

love ragweed pollen
but can chickens get anything out of the weeds?  Our six week old
golden comet cross and cuckoo marans have just about eaten the ground
bare underneath the towering ragweed.  Here’s what the pasture
looked like at the beginning of June:

Chicks in ragweed forest

…and here’s the same
patch of earth a month later:

Bare ground under ragweed

The whole pasture isn’t
this barren — this is the area right outside the coop door where the
flock hangs out the most.  But the flaws of the ragweed forest are
all too apparent.  The woody ragweed stems are useless for
chickens, and the flock can’t reach the leaves more than a foot off the
ground.  Meanwhile, ragweed’s shade keeps most other plants from
growing, but doesn’t produce the leaf litter full of bugs that makes
the real forest so appealing to chickens.

The only really
definitive way of telling the quality of the ragweed pasture compared
to our other pastures is to look at how much feed it takes to keep the
flock growing.  Unfortunately, this is our only flock of cuckoo
marans, and these heavier birds are likely to just eat more than our
australorps in general, so it would be an apples to oranges
comparison.  Still, my gut says the ragweed isn’t really helping,
so I’ll probably let some of it bloom and then cut it all down before
the ragweed goes to seed.

Our chicken waterer makes this flock so low
maintenance that they hardly know who I am.

Latest Comments

  1. Suzanne Gagnon July 20, 2011
  2. anna July 21, 2011

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