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Plants for poultry

BuzzywuzzyBuzzywuzzy West YorkshirePosts: 2
Hello everyone, I am after thoughts and experience here. I have a small number of chickens and ducks in my garden and I am currently preparing an area for them when they are back to being free range from their own 'lockdown'. Whilst they have to be under cover it means I can work without lots of 'help' from them. They have a quite a lot of space so I can afford to consider different things. At the moment I have a blank canvas with an area sectioned off just for them. There is a path, a shed and a small greenhouse, but I am digging up the earth and weeds to give it all a good turnover and plant afresh. I am going to throw down some grass seed and then put lots of different plants in to make it  I want to make their area pretty and functional so I am looking for suitable plants. I have bought a variety of herbs and some roses (apparently ducks enjoy munching on fallen rose petals) but I am wondering what else would be good to grow in their own little area. There is a paddling pool for the ducks and the water is changed regularly so I can afford to have water loving plants around but not in the pool. I am wanting plants that are safe for them to eat and enjoy being in and around. Does anyone else have a similar situation  who can advise me how they have planted?
 A day that ends in dirty clothes has been a good day :)

Posts

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,215
    Good luck with that!

    We adopted 6 hens last September and introduced them to their new hen house and running pen which was grassed.  I planted a jasmine on the west side, a honeysuckle on the north side, a climbing rose on the east side and a clematis on the south side so they have shade once they grow tall enough.   I was planning to put lavender around the foot of the pen fence as it's supposed to be calming and will attract pollinators to my veggies and fruits.

    However, within a month half their pen was bald and the other half heading that way.  After settling in we let them roam by day in the potager which is fenced and they have effectively cleared the strawberries from their raised bed, had a go at stripping the cabbages till I netted them off and have done a very good job of clearing the beds in the polytunnel where I will be growing tomatoes and chillies. 

    They also clamber over the pots of shrubs, roses, clematis, plants I'm growing on and peck for seeds and critters and they've re-arranged the chipped bark we've carefully laid all over the soft fruit beds.  We will be netting those off and have also netted the garlic, shallot, PSB, broad bean and cabbage beds now.

    What they do love is a tin of sweetcorn scattered on a bit I want weeding, some dahlia flowers, cherry tomatoes, courgettes, pumpkin seeds but not the flesh, old cabbages strung up by the stalk so they can peck away and cooked potato peelings. 
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • tui34tui34 Béziers, Herault, FrancePosts: 1,287
    Good luck with that - seconded!  I echo @Obelixx  sentiments.  But.  They will keep the area free of weeds (except nettles + some others) and insects and eat your kitchen scraps.

    A good hoeing is worth two waterings.

  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,431
    I’ll third that😀 ducks are the messiest creatures,  my garden was just a patch of mud, or in the summer when it was dry the chickens dig big holes by rolling in the dust. They need a dust bath. 
    On the good side, I never had a single slug,  Best you can do is throw in as much green veg as you can,  whole lettuce, cucumbers,  cauliflower green, I used to get the waste from the local green grocer.   Bake the egg shells and crumble for recycled calcium. 
    I’ve also seen then catch mice, so that’s a bonus. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • BuzzywuzzyBuzzywuzzy West YorkshirePosts: 2
      smiley: Yes, I expected those comments, and thank you all for taking the tims to give your thoughts and experiences. I have actually kept hens for ten years now, and ducks for around eight years, so I am well aware of their 'helpful' nature, their propensity for making dust baths and their general messy way of life. They make me smile and they give me lovely eggs. In return I give rescued  birds a happy old age of free range life for as long as possible. But I have  reasonably decent sized garden and I am finally helping it to evolve, with an area trellised off so that I can have some garden to share with the dog and cat, and the girls can have their own patch to make into a poultry paradise. The idea is to give them an area where they can have dust baths, a pool for the ducks (obviously) and plant things that they benefit their environment. So yes, there will be plenty of herbs and other things being grown pretty much just for them, as they have natural therapeutic properties. But I really wondered what other people may have planted specifically for them, rather than just watch general decimation. They do have a fair sized patch, once their lockdown is over, (Hurrah! - 31st March!) so there is room to grow and replenish, with a mixture of things for both practical and pretty effects, hence the roses and herbs. I have also got things for them to play on - garden pots etc which they like to clamber on and investigate the world. And you are right, Lyn, no slug dares show its face in my garden!
     A day that ends in dirty clothes has been a good day :)
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,215
    Ours managed to get into the PSB patch yesterday.  4 of the plants now look like they've been stripped by caterpillars so I've fixed the netting.  I understand that fresh herbs and veggies and garlic are good for them but I'll be growing them in protected beds so they have a chance to thrive.

    I do love the way they pick over the loose compost heaps and hoover up slugs and small nails when I find them lurking in pots I have over-wintering in the polytunnel and potager but I'm keeping them off anything I want to grow.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,252
    my last lot of chickens liked the elderberry trees, they don't eat the leaves but the berries go down very nicely. Ours really liked wild strawberries, they didn't murder the plants but they did eat every single berry. However my chickens were totally free range when out so they had a ton of space and their main diet was frogs, thousands of small frogs went down their necks.
  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,215
    I've been thinking of planting a sea buckthorn windbreak along the inside of our north fence round the potager @Skandi.  Some for us and some for the chooks.   Good tip about elderberries.  I'll make sure to pick some for them next autumn and in the meantime they can have as many of the very bland mirabelle plums we inherited as they like.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LynLyn DevonPosts: 18,431
    Mine did love fuchsia flowers, they stripped the bushes as high as the could reach.
    when they catch a mouse you can see just how prehistoric they are. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Vendée, Western FrancePosts: 26,215
    Good to know @Lyn.  My tender fuchsias are over-wintering in the polytunnel where the chooks have their dust baths.   Should be warm enough at night in th enext week or two to shift them to safety.

    Didn't know about mice.  Just wait till our huntress cat realises she has competition.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • SkandiSkandi Northern DenmarkPosts: 1,252
    I think mice depends on the chickens, I've watched mine all sat up on their perch while a mouse emptied their feed bowl, they didn't seem very happy about it but they certainly didn't see it as food!
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