Which Cover Crop is Safe for Chickens?
PVFS Customer Question with Staff Response:
I have a 85’ X 100’ fenced orchard area that doubles as a chicken yard. I want to plant a cover crop to enrich the soil. Then I want to plant your chicken field mix. Which cover crop would be safe to share with chickens? I was going to broadcast it by hand and attempt to lightly rake it in. I live up near Susanville, CA on a southern facing gentle slope. I can irrigate a few times with a hose and sprinkler.
When you say that you want the cover crop to enrich the soil, do you mean that you are planning to till it in later on? Usually, a green manure crop to enrich the soil is one that you grow then incorporate back into the soil so that the organic matter breaks down and releases all the nutrients it accumulated. That is considered the best way to build up your soil for future crops, including the Omega 3 Chicken Forage Blend. If that’s what you want to do, you would choose an annual cool season crop such as the Soil Builder Mix, plant it now (although you might not get a lot of growth until Spring, since the soil is cool), and till it under (roto-till, double dig, etc.) and wait 4-8 weeks before planting your chicken pasture.
As far as a cover crop to grow with a chicken pasture seed, I don’t think that would be a good idea. The blend itself is good for the soil (it has clovers, cowpeas, and alfalfa which are all Nitrogen fixers) and as long as you prepare the soil before hand by sowing a green manure crop or adding compost and fertilizer, it will grow well.
The Omega-3 mix is an irrigated mix, by the way, so you’ll have to water it probably a couple times a week through the dry times (depending on your soil, natural rainfall, etc.).
Give me a call if you want to discuss this any further.
Hope that helps and thank you for growing organically!
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