[permaculture] ideas for growing chicken feed

Forest Garden forestgarden at gvtc.com
Fri Jul 7 10:16:39 EDT 2006

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.  It's going to be a challenge for usre.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Ute Bohnsack" <sustag at eircom.net>
To: "permaculture" <permaculture at lists.ibiblio.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 05, 2006 8:49 AM
Subject: Re: [permaculture] ideas for growing chicken feed

> Wednesday, July 5, 2006, 4:13:57 AM, you wrote:
> FG> Hello Everyone,
> FG> I am looking into how I can sustainably grow chicken feed.  If you are
> FG> already doing this, or have some ideas, I would really appreciate some
> FG> input.  Ideally, I would like to be able to maintian about 50 birds
> FG> round.  I live in Central Texas which can range from zone 7 to 10 in
> FG> given year.  Most of our soil is sandy and slightly acidic, but we do
> FG> some clayey areas.  Not much lioam, but we are working on it.
Perrenial or
> FG> self-seeding sources preferred.   Drought and heat tolerance always a
> FG> thing in our neighborhood.  We theoretically get about 34" per year,
> FG> that can very quite a bit from year to year.  I am  keeping the
chickens in
> FG> tractors and collecting the eggs for sale.
> FG> Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
> FG> Sincerely,
> FG> Marjory
> Hi Marjory,
> interesting topic...
> There is a good article in "The Best of Permaculture". 1986. By Max O.
Lindegger and Robert Tap.
> on Fukuoka style grain growing which i.a. kept a flock of chickens in feed
for a
> few months.
> Chickens can find quite a bit of food on range (greens, bugs, snails,
worms) but
> for a production flock these can only be supplements in my opinion. A
flock of
> 50 layers needs about 14 pounds of relatively high protein (c. 16%) feed
per day.
> In a forest garden situation some of the feed could come from fallen
fruit, seeds in
> undergrowth, seeds from trees like False Locust (Robinia), berries from
> like Cornus, Sorbus, Lycium. You could also grow pumpkins, courgettes etc.
> the undergrowth/on the edges. But then you say you work with tractors so I
> you can't just let them (the chickens) ramble.
> An interesting plant worth considering may be the Lupin
> see http://newcrop.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/nexus/Lupinus_albus_nex.html
> Sweet Lupins contain no or low levels of alkaloids (which are
antinutritive) so
> can be used as feed.
> The biggest challenge is to get enough protein of the right composition
> terms of amino acids) into the birds for sustained egg production.
> There has been some research on growing duckweed (Lemna) at a larger scale
> feed purposes in some developing countries. A Google hit with "Lemna" and
> "livestock feed" and "poultry should yield ample results on this. However,
> need ponds to grow it which may or may not be an option where you are.
> Sandy soil is quite ideal for buckwheat, which makes good chicken feed (up
> 30% admixture). Don't know though whether it grows in your region. It's an
> European annual crop grown on sandy, acidic soil. Chickens can eat both
> and greens.
> I remember reading many years ago about some work in the US on perennial
> but can't remember author/sources. Perhaps someone else here remembers.
> I have 4 small flocks, a total of 21 hens and 4 cocks (and loads of chicks
> present). I have thought and read a lot about growing some of my own feed
> them but have come to the conclusion that I have to buy in their base
diet. I
> make my own mix from organic grains and beans (wheat, barley, oats, field
> beans), about 20% organic layer pellets, and some non-organic bran. I
> that with varied (rotational) ranges, i.e. goat paddocks, top and soft
> orchards, small woodlot; and they get kitchen scraps, garden weeds,
> comfrey, fallen top fruit, softfruit as high as they can jump :),
> milk (we have a few dairy goats), whey from making soft-cheese, surplus
> etc. During the summer their grassy paddocks grow almost quicker than they
> eat it down but during the rest of the year they destroy the turf rather
> and after they've moved on to a new paddock I broadscale sow a gamekeepers
> mix with all sorts of tasties like black oats, various clovers, Brassicas,
> herbs etc.
> I have also seem folks growing maize/sweetcorn on used up ground
> where I am climate corn does not really thrive outdoors) - once it's up
> enough, the hens are turned back in and it provides shade and shelter for
> and later cobs for the hens or people.
> Another advantage of this system is that corn/maize takes up a lot of
> the nitrogen deposited by the birds, preventing over-enrichment of the
> Just some things that come to mind. HTH
> Ute
> (in Ireland, Zone 8/9)
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