Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fresh grass for urban chickens all year long

Urban chickens love their greens, sometimes (often?) to the detriment of existing landscaping. Hens don't much care how much a plant costs you to replace, they just care if it's yummy or not.

Yes, there's been many an urban chicken farmer who, with best intentions, has moved their run on top of the grass for a day or so only to come back to find a patch of dirt under some rather content hens. So, how to provide your girls with greens, especially when it's still cold and snowy out still (in most of the country, at least)?   

Mary D was kind enough to send me an email sharing her instructions for providing fresh greens to your urban hens.
I get unhulled seed, (whatever is available) at our local Co op, and rotate four trays of seed growing continuously. When I start seed, I lay it down thick on potting soil, cover with a piece of newspaper, keep the newspaper moist, and keep covered with a plastic wrap, until seed really gets sprouting.

I do all of this on a grow rack in our house throughout the winter and each day our hens get a 1/2 flat of fresh grass.

This is wheat berry growing in the above pictures, but I experiment with any grain I can find. They love it!
As soon as one tray is empty I start another. From seed to "chicken ready" is usually 7 days. 4-6 trays keep you in grasses for 8 hens.
Bonus: you can find all kinds of quantities of grass seed ready to be shipped from Amazon.

Thanks for the tip, Mary. I know you're making a lot of snow-bound urban chickens very happy!

What do you do to keep your urban chickens getting their greens during the long winter months?

UPDATE: Derek, from mypetchicken.com, chimes in with this little tip he got on growing grass in trays: "add a hardware cloth top to the trays (might have to make the trays out of wood) and let the grass grow through.  This way the chickens can eat the grass, but not scratch up all the dirt and require reseeding the trays every time.  You can cycle a couple of the trays so that they always have fresh grass"

6 comments:

miki.wright said...

I supplement with bags of kale and collards from the grocery in the winter. Great eggs.

Robbin said...

Great idea, however, lots of "urban" farmers lack the kind of space to grow grass flats. Buying kale and collards sound like a good alternative.

Rhonda said...

this is a fabulous idea...and although I do not have any of my own chickens yet...I plan to do this one day.
Thanks so much for the great idea!!!

Aagaard Farms said...

We hung a metal basket for bird suet cakes from the roof of the coop. We fill it with greens, fruit and squash that are extra. One of our readers named it the chicken pinata! Food and fun!

TJ said...

Wow. That's dedication. I wuld have never thought to grow grass inside. I must agree with Robbin though, my space is more limited. How about getting greens from the supermarket that they're about to throw away?

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Jackie and Richard said...

Oh, how wonderful! It doesn't snow near us, but still a very useful idea!!! I thoroughly enjoy your blog -- so glad I found it!

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