Try growing perennials such as nasturtiums, comfrey, and New Zealand spinach along the perimeter of your coop or chicken run. Plant them along the outside of the fence, not inside where the chickens can help themselves – as they quickly decimate plants they get a taste for! Planted on the outside, your chickens can pluck a few leaves here and there without destroying the entire plant.
You can also use the wire fence of your chicken coop as a trellis for growing edible vines, such as grapes, climbing peas, climbing beans, passionfruit and cucumber. This will save you valuable space in the vegie garden, plus both you and your chickens get to benefit from the same crops.
Another way to give your chickens a variety of greens is by growing crops in trays. These trays can be placed in the coop until they show signs of fatigue, at which point they should be removed and replaced with another tray. Allow removed trays time to recuperate, then offer them up to your chooks again. Grow a succession of different plants to vary their diet, and to allow crops to rest. Try sowing seed of lucerne, clover, millet and linseed. Pots can also be used, however they are easily tipped over by heavy hens.
There are many weeds that chickens love to pick at, so let them! Weeds can add a valuable source of diversity to their diet. Try feeding them stinging nettles (Urtica dioica), purslane (Portulaca oleracea), sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceus) and cleavers (Gallium aparine), instead of placing them in the rubbish or compost.
You may also like to grow or buy vegetables for your chickens, although if you do grow your own vegies, there is usually more than enough to i around. You eat the cauliflower, and they eat the outer leaves! Feed them vegie trimmings, plants that are flowering or have gone to seed, and the crops that you pull from the garden in preparation for your next growing season.
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