Foraging Greens Improves Chicken Behaviour
Foraging greens help to form to a complete diet for your backyard chickens. Comprising of mostly weeds and leafy vegetables, these greens provide essential nutrients and amino acids vital for their health.
Aside from helping to provide a balanced diet, foraging greens also help to keep your chicken's behaviour in check, providing a healthy interest to peck at. When a flock of chickens have nothing to keep their interest, and it takes little time for feeding, they can turn on each other; pecking at each other rather than at natural habitat.
Where to plant foraging greens
Foraging green seed mixes and plants are perfect along a chicken run. You will require more than one area of greens, to allow the plants to replenish. Use a combination of garden/yard plantings along with planter boxes to provide interest and variety in and around the chicken coop.
A combination of plantings will also help to ensure the plants withstand different weather conditions as the seasons change.
Chicken Forage mixes in movable pots
Chickens are enthusiastic scratchers. Often they will keep scratching the earth until they reveal and upend roots, killing off plants. For this reason, it is a good idea to numerous areas where your hens can roam, forage and scratch; allowing the previous area to regrow.
Planting foraging seed mixes in movable pots, trough and even in the odd wheelbarrow helps to ensure there is always somewhere for your hens to forage. Movable pots allow you to move them away from the hens when the plants need to regrow.
In Winter when grass and plants grow slowly, you may find it challenging to produce enough greens for your foraging friends. Move your pots into sunny spots, out of the wind to encourage faster growth.
Foraging Improves Chicken Behaviour
If you own free-range hens, it is vital that they are physically active every day. This activity is essential for their social health along with their overall physical health.
The problem with Free-Range hens is that many will not roam beyond their nesting boxes; which is not suitable for their health. By having an area to graze, and greens to peck at you are encouraging your hens to explore beyond their coop.
When chickens are free to forage, their stress levels decrease. If they do not have room and something to scratch, peck and claw, chickens peck at each other. This is also known as cannibalistic behaviour and has a tendency to escalate quickly throughout your flock.
Providing environmental enrichment such as opportunities to forage will avert the hens from this behaviour, helping them to live in harmony.
Are Greens a complete meal for Chickens?
No. Chickens need a complete diet which consists of 16-18% protein, calcium, Omega 3 fatty acids, fibre along with essential vitamins. Greens simply do not provide all of this to ensure optimal chicken health.
Greens will undoubtedly boost their diets, providing nutrients and amino acids. The greens also allow insects to grow, providing another source of nutrition for your hens.
Where can I buy a green foraging seed mix for Chickens?
A quality poultry grain mix is available at Dine A chook. The mix comprises of hardy perennials and self-seeding annuals that chickens and poultry will love. Typical contents include: Barrel medic, bok choy, buckwheat, chicory, clover, cocksfoot, linseed, lucerne, millet, forage plantain, silverbeet, subclover and sunflower.
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