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Growing Portable Forage for Urban Chickens – Giveaway!

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Creating tiny, portable forage “pastures” for your city chickens is a great way to give them extra nutrition!

Mini Pasture for Backyard ChickensI am a HUGE fan of planting forage greens for my urban hens. It turns out that my friend Jayme (of Nest in Style) is too!  We recently discovered that we were BOTH writing posts on this subject.

So…we decided to pool our resources and ask our friends at Peaceful Valley Farm & Garden Supply (one of our favorite suppliers of seeds and homesteading goodies) if they would pitch in some huge bags of “Forage Blend” seed that we could give to you – our readers – for FREE. They graciously said Yes!

So I am happy to announce that we are doing a double giving away! We are each giving 2 (1-lb) bags of forage blend AND you can enter on both of our blogs for a better chance of winning.

It’s like a party!

Hi everyone! The giveaway is now officially closed.

Thanks so much for all of your wonderful comments and suggestions on great breeds. I learned a lot! And thanks also to Peaceful Valley for giving us the Forage Blend! (Click on their name if you want to order the blend yourself.)

The winners here on my blog are: Angela England and Ashleigh (Purely a coincidence that both names start with A!) I have emailed the winners.

Be sure to go to Nest in Style to see if you won over there! And thanks again everyone for participating. It was fun!

So What’s So Great About Foraging?

Pastured EggsHere’s the scoop…

One of the reasons I have my own backyard flock (and probably the reason many of you do too) is because the eggs are incredible. They are more flavorful, last longer and are much more nutritious than store bought eggs.

How do I know they are more nutritious? There have been some studies and tests that prove pastured eggs (eggs from chickens who are outdoors, foraging for bugs and greens as part of their diet) have

  • 1/3 less cholesterol
  • 1/4 less saturated fat
  • more vitamin A and E
  • 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
  • 7 times more beta carotene.

Now here is the important part

Free Range ChickenThe trick to having these nutrients is allowing the chickens to graze on a variety of greens and bugs. The eggs from chickens only fed commercial feed were not as nutritious.

Note: For info on how to decode grocery store egg labels so you get real pastured eggs, go HERE.

But my chickens live in the city! They don’t have access to large fields and pastures to forage for greens. They only “forage” in my tiny vegetable garden and I keep the “good stuff” fenced off so they don’t devour all my lettuce and spinach.

So What is a City Chicken Owner to Do?

I supplement my city girl’s diet with

  • greens from my kitchen
  • weeds/cuttings from my garden
  • counter-top sprouts
  • and I grow “forage blend” for them.

They also “free-range” in my garden to collect worms and insects and other tasty yummies.

I started out just growing wheat grass and few other grains for my girls on my own. Then, I discovered Peaceful Valley and this fantastic blend of grains made especially for chickens! It is packed with Omega-3 plants (alfalfa, clover and flax).

Forage Blend Seed

The forage blend from Peaceful Valley Garden Suppy

Here are some of the ingredients: several kinds of ryegrass, flax, buckwheat, millet, strawberry clover, red cover, alfalfa, and broadleaf trefoil.

How To Plant Mini-Portable “Pastures”

Growing Greens for Chickens

I grow my forage blend in window box liners because I place them in various areas of my garden as they grow. I line the chicken run with them. I have them up on my fence line and I sometimes even put them in my window boxes. Gasp!

Who says the “pasture” has to look like pasture?  It doesn’t!  My window boxes look kinda cool and always strike up conversations with visitors.

But any container can be used to grow the forage blend. Most people use those 17″ flats you get at the nursery. They hold A LOT of seed. And a 1-pound bag of Forage Blend can do about 20 of those flats! WOW!

  • Step 1: No matter what container you choose, simply fill it with potting soil and pat down lightly.
  • Step 2: Sprinkle some of the forage blend seed over the soil – fairly thickly.
  • Step 3: Cover with a thin layer of additional soil (to keep wild birds from eating all the seed) and gently water (regularly). Easy!
  • Step 4: In less than a week, your seeds will sprout. In another week or two, the greens will be about 3-4 inches tall and ready to feed to the chickens! When ready, just place one of your planted containers into the chicken run and watch the girls go crazy! They love it and will quickly devour it all.
  • Step 5: Plant your container again.

Using mini-pastures is especially good if you are going on vacation and can’t let the girls free range for a period of time.

NOTE: if you have the space, you can also plant this blend in an open area of your yard. One (1 lb) bag will do a 500 sq. foot area. To keep the plants going, only let the chickens “mow” it half way down and then move them out to let it regrow. You can keep rotating them through the “pasture” for an entire season with minimal reseeding!

 The Giveaway Details: (Sorry the giveaway is closed)

Ready to win a FREE 1-pound bag of Forage Blend for yourself? Simply comment below and tell me:

  • Your favorite chicken breed and why

Extra Credit: You can enter TWICE on my blog if you:

  • Go to my Facebook Page, click “LIKE” and come back HERE to comment that you did. Already “like” me? Then tell me that in a comment so you have the same chances.

Please do not comment below more than twice. You must be a US resident to win. You have until midnight on Wednesday, July 18th to enter. After that, I will pick TWO random winners and Peaceful Valley will ship out the seeds. I will announce the winners here on July 19th and on Facebook.

Remember – You Have a Second Chance to Win!

Be sure to go on over to Nest in Style and enter to win the same forage blend on their blog! You might even want to subscribe to her RSS feed. She has a great garden style.

Good Luck everyone!

Disclaimer: The opinions are my own. I was not in any way compensated for this post. Peaceful Valley is providing the seed blend for free with no obligation on my part. 

 

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy®. For 9 years, Theresa was the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.