Forage for chooks

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Forage for chooks

Postby kitkat » Sun Aug 28, 2005 2:43 pm

I noticed that Cardhead grows some greens for her chooks... :) me too.Comfrey, silverbeet,all the cabbage leaves and broccoli stems, and one plant that they seem to absolutely love is Mizuna...it is a cut and come again lettuce from Japan. It grows really fast and easily and if you let it get bigger while still cutting some to eat ...the hens will love it, I also grow Pak Choy , I use some and the chooks get some too ..and the ones that go to seed they get whole except for one I keep for seed.I grow all the goumet lettuces because the bigger ones are too much for one and I like to pick enough for daily use for me and the hens.Oakleaf, the red frilly ones, rocket and cos all allow a cut and come again process rather than just to pull it out. The garden looks prettier too with all those colours. I have the multicolors of silverbeet in all my flower beds as well , the reds do really well and the yellows OK but not as tall and lush as the red stemmed ones.
The chooks also love the dandelions that are just about to start flowering..lots of them in the orchard.I occassionally use young dandelion leaves in a salad, along with nasturtium leaves and flowers they add a nice 'bite'.I am so looking forward to salad days again..my favorite food.Though I have enjoyed my winter vegie soups and stir fries..Last week I ate 8 leaves/veg from the garden in a stir fry ....not bad for Winter? Cabbage, broccoli, carrot, turnip, mizuna, pakchoy,snowpea,broadbean..oh make that nine..silver beet too.
Does anyone sprout their own beanshoots? I received a book as a gift on growing seeds as sprouts and thought I might have a go with some seeds in my pantry...blackeye peas and lentils...it sounds like they would make a good addition to my salads and apparently are very nutritious too.I have had alfalfa from the supermaket but no other sprouts that I can think of....any hints welcome! :D
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Postby Sam » Mon Aug 29, 2005 10:00 am

We grew alfalfa lucerne to be a green manure - it has really deep roots that bring up good stuff from way below. The roots are quite strong, so the chooks would probably love it! The soil when we dug it out was absolutely beautiful!
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Postby kitkat » Mon Aug 29, 2005 5:23 pm

Mizuna tastes like the oak leaf lettuce but you can also cook it in a stir fry ..very quickly at the last minute as it wilts fast.It grows into a 60x60 cm bush here and I just keep ripping leaves off it for myself and chooks.It just keeps on keeping on.

Re comfrey..I only use it for the chooks and the compost not as an edible plant...it used to be eaten in days gone by but not recommended any more...its great for chooks and compost though.Makes a nice border around the vegie patch too.Chooks will eat just about any green forage and they just love to free range ant up the bugs like slters that hide in the mulch ..though they do like to scratch it everywhere..but that is actually good too as it aerates it and turns it over....to say nothing of them fertilising the garden as they go...good stuff.I started out with five hens and one rooster and ended up with 72 chicks in one season ...amazing and not one loss to a fox! My neighbours were glad to take my excess chicks in exchange for wheat ..they are all wheat farmers around here.

When you get your chooks get some red cordial to put in their water (the artificial one that kids go off on not the natural one)......it has sulphur in it and is a good antibacterial agent...I learned that from a relative who had a pet shop and bred birds..he swore by it and I learned that most bird fanciers use it...strange huh?

I imagine alfalfa would be great for hens but I doubt it would grow in the dry here...I remember seeing it being irrigated wherever I saw it growing..though chick peas grow here and they too are good to fix nitrogen and as green manure.I just put in lots of broad beans, mustard and snowpeas and dig it it all in or compost it ..thats what the chooks don't get of course but they free range so I don't need to add too much to their diet in that line...they used to steal the silver beet until I planted lots more now theres enough for both of us and the neighbours.Don't overfeed your chooks on bran as it heats their blood and can cause a few health problems and an early moult a warm bran mash for chicks and on a really cold morning ocassionally for the hens is enough.

Today I have carted six barrowloads of mulch from under a great old gum tree down the back paddock ..it is nearly a foot thick under that tree....I am using it as mulch for a dry garden at the front and planting aloes and succulents in it, though I think my Aloe Vera might not survive the frosts we have, so I might keep it in a pot.yes i thanked the tree for it~ :D
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Postby kitkat » Tue Aug 30, 2005 5:25 pm

Hi Guys,,,,
I don't feed my hens layer pellets as they free range and then have wheat and greens,scraps etc from the garden and house.For me layer pellets have too many chemicals added and aren't necessary if the hens have a good varied diet.Maybe in the burbs it might be a different thing..my guys have 5 acres to forage on.Bran mash is just hot water mixed with bran or pallard for chicks...I add crushed garlic to their water regularly but nothing else except when I remember I add the red cordial.
never heard of Miners lettuce ..tell us more??? I'll look into Fat Hen ...I think that is a kind of weed isn't it?I remember seeing it mentioned in an English book of edible weeds ...ayt least I think I did...it's gone back to the library now.
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Postby Luzy » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:06 pm

Hi again, I remember Red Fat Hen and Green Fat Hen as weeds that Mum composted when I was a kid. I've only had a few months experience looking after chooks - and they loved weeds (almost as much as being let out, which unfortunately I couldn't do often). The favorite weeds were thistles, especially ones with heaps of aphids, and chickweed. Apparently cracked corn added to the diet helps with making nice yellow yolks.

With the comfrey, it is apparently edible but from memory went out of fashion, possibly with not enough research as to how safe it is. The new leaves that are not-so-hairy are supposed to taste like cucumber and it's also supposed to make a pleasant herb tea. I've even got a recipe for comfrey leaf fritters. Must admit, though, I don't really fancy it - I'll keep it to keep weeds down and for the compost. And 'cos it looks good. Or for if I get a broken bone.

I did have a horse many years ago that just adorded comfrey - ate every bit of Mum's plantings (a garden of about a metre by three metres), right down to the base of each stem. She'd also prune it everytime it popped up again. Didn't affect the comfrey and it obviously had something that she felt she needed.

Cardhed, maybe your chooks can be your own private Bokashi bucket. I look forward to hearing how it all goes. And when you get the first egg :D
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Postby Luzy » Tue Aug 30, 2005 7:45 pm

Oooh, I take it that that's the miner's lettuce. That looks incedibly interesting, almost like one of the spinach-type plants. You'll have to let us know what it's like :)
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Postby kitkat » Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:18 pm

Yes that Miner's lettuce looks like chooks would love it.I take it that the name is because the early settlers used to eat it when nothing else could be had? Have you tasted it yet Cardhed? I'll take a pic of the mizuna , though it is all in flower now you can still see how it grows.

BTW can you tell me how you managed to get that picture into the forum ..I tried on the Shed forum but just got the address no pic.

My neighbour called in this morning with some cacti for my dry garden,lovely surprise, one is a big head of a Yucca ..the one that has red candle like flowers, so that will look good once it is established.One was a really prickly little cactus and the other an aloe so now the garden bed looks really good ...all in two days! Not bad huh! I sent her home with a big bag of greens for her chooks after we had coffee of course! :lol:
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Postby kitkat » Wed Aug 31, 2005 2:37 pm

Here are a couple of Aussie poultry sites you may enjoy.I am thinking of getting a trio of geese to keep the grass down in the back paddock so went browsing for sites this afternoon while the wind was blowing a gale here.

http://insight.iinet.net.au/breeders/da ... CHOOK.html

http://groups.msn.com/AussieChicks/chookpalaces.msnw
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Postby Herby » Wed Aug 31, 2005 7:34 pm

Last edited by Herby on Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Marrion » Thu Sep 01, 2005 7:40 am

Just checked that site out :) the chooks were foraging and there was a goat browsing in the background, very cute. No sound though :(
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Postby Luzy » Fri Sep 02, 2005 8:07 pm

Ooh, I am impressed (Y) It's also nice to see some suburbia - real life stuff for so many of us! What's the next stage?
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Postby Marrion » Sun Sep 04, 2005 9:18 pm

Do you think they heard me talking to you??
Image
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Postby kitkat » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:02 pm

re seed swap....That would be great Ben....my Mizuna is not quite dry yet but will be ready in about a week I think..the pods are drying now.i'd like to try some Miner's lettuce I've never heard of it before.I'll also send you some Bok Choy seeds ...they are at the same stage ..good eating and good forage too.

My chooks are bitzers really, though Reginald is a purebred Black Australorp..the hens are Light Sussex crossed with Buff Orpingtons...nice Mums ..and pretty hens.......would you believe I originally brought them for their colours as I wanted to paint them...they now hang in my kitchen.

I also brought a great big chook calendar back from China...(the Year of the Rooster) and as I use each month I frame the pics ..they are all 16x20" so make nice prints.
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Postby Luzy » Tue Sep 06, 2005 7:14 pm

Hi kitkat,

Hope all's well with you. I take it that it's the paintings of the chooks that hang in your kitchen now :| I can't imagine, no...

How does your mizuna go? I've just planted a sprinkling of seeds (always have problems with spacings etc :lol: ). I have had great success with pak choy, planting in Jan this year, harvesting leaf by leaf (not as pretty as in restaurants, but even tastier) and have only just pulled out three of the four original plants - one's hanging on for a few more contributions to stir frys. I'm hoping the mizuna will be similar. Should I keep hoping? :?
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Postby kitkat » Wed Sep 07, 2005 8:34 pm

"Perennial grown as an annual " usually means it is frost tender and therefore won't come back reliably next year so needs to be resown...at least that's my take on it?Sometimes it depends on the climate though and how sheltered it is..I have ginger growing in a corner facing east sheltered by two walls and it grows all year here despite severe frosts.

My bok Choy is almost done now ..all gone to seed but I still get a few leaves from it ..like for tonights meal.Mizuna likes it cooler too so maybe will go to seed quicker in Summer not sure though as this is my first year growing it....it did really well all thru winter and went to seed in August.It may one of those that grow all year too...so sow and see.We will all have a lovely lot of pics when all these shared plants come into bearing won't we...lovely thought.
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Postby kitkat » Thu Sep 08, 2005 3:57 pm

Ben , Had an idea for forage for your chooks that will also add shade to their run. Next time you are in the supermarket get yourself a nice choko and put it in a dark cupboard for a week or two until it shoots (unless you can find one shooting of course)Plant it beside the chook run and in no time at all it will cover the wire with lovely leafy shade and then start fruiting. Chooks like choko and as there will be lots and lots of them there will be more than you can use ...or even give away in my experience. I only use it for chutney or add to soup or stews.I find its a bit bland on its own but its really good for quick coverage and forage food.

Re looking for 1000 bricks....I noticed in our local paper several ads for lots of 1000 bricks...usually between 30 & 40c each so you should find similar in the Trading Post or try a demolition company..sometimes they toss them in the skip rather than spend time cleaning and stacking them.Good luck.
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Postby Luzy » Thu Sep 08, 2005 6:58 pm

Hi kitkat,

When your chokos start setting fruit, pick a few very young, up to about 10cm long. Try these baked along with your other vegies (won't take as long as potatoes and so on), slice them up for your stir frys or, if you're having a campfire or the like, wrap them up in foil and bake them in the coals. I do agress that chokos can be bland, especially when they're huge, but when they're young and little they can be sweet(ish) and tasty. And don't forget a bit of butter and pepper with your campfire chokos! :D
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Postby kitkat » Thu Sep 08, 2005 8:44 pm

Well Luzy that sounds good. I'll certainly try those ideas...though I must admit I'm a bit past the old campfire thing ...my old bones won't let me sleep on the ground anymore :lol: But maybe on the BBQ?
I use about 10kg each year in chutney and ginger pickles. They carry flavor quite well. ...and as my neighbours don't like them but do like the chutney I give them that instead...plus the chooks get lots too ...sometimes cooked sometimes raw just for variety.
I also dry about 10kg of my grapes each year for sultanas....for chutney, cakes etc. Trouble is they have big seeds and I just can't be bothered deseeding that many...so my chutney has seeds ...and a warning on the labels! :wink:
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Postby Luzy » Fri Sep 09, 2005 5:26 pm

Hmmm, barbecued chokos - that could be quite interesting, though I haven't had any luck (yet) growing them here. Sliced in half maybe, cut side down?? :-? Served with your ginger chutney - now THAT sounds yummy. Please tell me more about that :D You must be incredibly busy, drying grapes as well, also sounds yummy. And the seeds would only make you eat slower and appreciate the flavours... :D Sounds like your chooks have a wonderful diet, too!
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Postby kitkat » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:45 pm

LOl I have to laugh Luzy ,, when I think of it my chooks have a differnet diet...last Summer I made lots of Apricot chutney and still had some left from the year before so each week I gave the chooks some on their wheat...they loved it! :lol: My cupboard is full of home preserves...to me its like money in the bank,I have apricots, peaches,beetrrot, onions and Apples bottled or pickled, frozen and dried,sultanas and tomatoes dried and lots of jams marmalades, chutney and sauces.Oh yes and fruit leathers...my food dryer was a really good investment as sundrying meant that I had a big ant problem each time. Though I still have to fight the ants for my grapes each year ..the darn things hollow out the grapes and leave me the shrivelled shell.

A few years ago I used to sell my preserves at a local Farmers Market each month but new laws now make it harder to be able to do that ( it would have cost too much to alter my kitchen for the certificate) so I just enjoy sharing it around with family,neighbours,and chooks.

The trouble is with enjoying making (and sampling) such a lot of produce is that my hips tell the tale! :wink:
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