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A forum for growing rare fruits, edibles and Permaculture with a focus on tropicals.

Chickens!

Postby Riglpo » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:25 am

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Alright, the City of Orlando has finally given me the legal right to have chickens! They have a 30 seat chicken pilot program lasting 2 years. I'm so excited to a part of this and have an opportunity to influence policy. Unfortunately, they are only allowing 3 hens currently but it is a start. My main interest at this point is feeding them. I will buy feed, however, I would like to use as little as possible. Ideally, I would like to set up a food forage system where a substantial part of their nutritional needs are met through foraging. The main elements/plants I've found to incorporate thus far are:
- Acacias - a number of Australian species are readily eaten and offer a great source of protein. Right now I'm ordering seeds.
- Black Soldier Flies - A superior source of fats and proteins.... and all made from your compost!
- Camphor - Though toxic in large quantities, smaller amounts have nutritional and medicinal benefits.

Anything else one can add???

Re: Chickens!

Postby Riglpo » Mon Jul 23, 2012 10:28 am

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A few of the Acacias include: A. aneura, A. ligulata, and A. decurrens.

Re: Chickens!

Postby RodneyS » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:25 pm

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duckweed, moringa, comfrey should be good.

Which chickens were you planning to raise? I had my eye on light/buff brahmas and barred plymouth rocks.

Re: Chickens!

Postby Riglpo » Mon Jul 23, 2012 9:17 pm

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Ahhh thanks for reminding me about Moringa. I already have a bunch of this on the property. Duckweed, too, though in small amounts. It would be great to up my production of all of these... No comfrey yet though. Thanks for the input. Do you have chickens yet? Have you noticed what they prefer over other foraged foods?? Re: types, I'm acquiring a few from someone who needs to get rid of their coop so I'm not sure what they are. More on that later as I find out more.

Re: Chickens!

Postby Axel » Fri Jul 27, 2012 8:24 pm

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I don't think what you're trying is feasible. Unfortunately, chickens do need additional foods, they are not adapted to foraging because they've been domesticated. It's not that they can't feed themselves, it's that they are genetically designed to turn feed into eggs.
Tropical gardening in both Kaua'i windward Sunset H2/USDA 12b and Fallbrook Sunset 23/USDA 10b.

Re: Chickens!

Postby Riglpo » Wed Aug 08, 2012 9:37 pm

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I hear what you're saying about them being domesticated and bred to eat solely commercial feed but I feel it should be possible nonetheless. It might take time and research (as to what nutrition is in which plant) but once I source the nutrition and bring in the food sources I'm hoping to only have to supplement with feed. A fun challenge! One thought I've had is to get a few chickens from a place not too far from here where they've been producing eggs and foraging for 30+ years with the hopes of picking up the "foraging gene" ;-) I'm looking forward to selecting based on this trait.

Re: Chickens!

Postby manley123 » Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:14 pm

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Mealworms are really easy and the chickens love 'em. My chooks go equally crazy over grape vine leaves and apricot leaves. Not sure about the nutrition of them, but I've got tons of both...

Re: Chickens!

Postby SnagEnd » Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:57 am

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Many of the heritage breed chickens are excellent foragers and will happily spend most of their day out scratching up food, if they have the opportunity. The most determined of mine are the Sussex, Delaware, Orpington, and New Hampshire. (These are also the friendliest of my flock; perhaps because they see us as a food source!) Marans, Welsummer, Dominique, and Plymouth Rock also forage well.

That said, it is extremely difficult for a chicken to get a balanced diet with all the nutrition they need solely from foraging. There is a tremendous amount of research into chicken diet, so you can figure out what to provide as a supplement if you know what is available as forage. It's difficult to provide sufficient protein, for example, and there are certain key amino acids that can be tricky.

As a start, I'd plan on sowing as much ground in clover as possible. Chickens love it and it is high in protein, plus it attracts a lot of insects and worms.

Stocking rate is a key factor - the lower the better, in terms of getting nutrition through foraging.

Good luck and have fun, watching (and listening to) chickens forage is one of life's great simple joys. The contented noises they make when happy are infectious.

Re: Chickens!

Postby coolclimate » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:04 am

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Our chickens get commercial grains, leftovers, old bread we get for free from a bakery soaked, weeds and leftovers from a greengrocer. There is one thing high on our to do list which is called "protein out of thin air", google gor it.
IMO when your neighbours are allowed to keep barking dogs and cats who stray in other peoples gardens and roll in your vegetable beds and poo in your kids sandpit no one can outlaw you to keep some chickens.

Re: Chickens!

Postby Riglpo » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:31 am

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Thanks Snagend! Just some of the info I was looking for, especially the breed info. I will keep everyone up to date on the progress.

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