GROW YOUR OWN POULTRY AND ANIMAL FORAGE:
Keeping chooks supplies you with organic free-range eggs and chicken manure but the other advantages are less obvious. Poultry convert the inedible into the edible, turning kitchen scraps into eggs, reducing the need to compost. If you turn your orchard into a poultry forage system you will reduce your need for fertiliser, mowing and pest control. Chooks are very industrious when it comes to catching insects, particularly fruit fly and codling moth.
It is to your advantage to grow some food for the chooks as this will reduce feed bills and also provide the chickens with a healthy, varied diet. The chickens will be happier provided with both shade and entertainment. Combine poultry forages with your orchard by simply placing extra plants for chicken forage in amongst the fruit trees. The orchard will need to be well established before the chooks are allowed to free range to prevent damage to young trees. A continuous groundcover should always present, if the ground is being completely bared, then you have too many chooks for the area. In urban areas where space is limited then plant your chook forages in the chicken run, but give protection from the chooks and their continuous scratching. Scattering logs, concrete pavers or rocks across the top of the root zones will help prevent the roots being damaged by constant scratching. Alternatively you can fence off part of the run to allow time for plants to establish. A chook system with multiple runs will allow you to cycle crops of greens for the chickens, in rotation.
Chicken Tucker is a hardy mix of all-important greens to keep your chooks healthy. Includes barrel medic, bok choy, buckwheat, forage chicory, clover, cocksfoot, linseed, lucerne, millet, forage plantain, silverbeet, subclover and sunflower. Most have vigorous root systems that will quickly regrow leaves that are cut or eaten. Chicken Tucker is a blend of annual and perennial plants, many of which will self-sow.