If you are an urban or hobby farmer, one challenge you may have is how to make sure your city chickens get enough fresh greens to eat. Here are a few creative ideas…
For urban homesteaders, things that are relatively simple for those with larger plots of land can be quite complicated. One good example is growing greens to feed your city chickens.
Growing greens or fodder for your chickens may be pretty easy if you have large amounts of outdoor space or pasture, but if you live in an urban area, it’s not quite so easy. Fodder (sprouts from various grains) can be made indoors, but figuring out the correct technique isn’t always easy, and it does require some time and attention and practice to get it just right – otherwise you can end up with a smelly moldy mess that even your chickens may not want to eat.
However, if you think outside the box, you can often come up with some creative solutions to help your city chickens enjoy some tasty greens even in the heart of the city. Not only will your chickens be happier and healthier, but you will also enjoy the healthy and tasty benefits of pasture-raised chicken eggs right from your own backyard!
Everybody has weeds. People spend gobs of time pulling them. Let people know with a flyer or an online neighborhood site like I did, that you want weeds.
…You would be surprised how many neighbors will bring you fresh weeds! Your egg-laying divas will love them!…
…You do need to let people know you are only interested in clippings and weeds from non-chemically treated lawns, but this is surprisingly easy to find. If you have your compost area in with your chickens then you can just dump these fresh greens in for your girls to sift through and eat what they want. The rest just becomes soil building goodness.
2.) A Neighbor’s Unkempt Yard
Find a neighbor that has a lawn maintenance problem. Yes, you read that right. You know that person on your block that just can’t seem to get their yard under control. This sad looking situation could be a win-win for both of you and the city you live in.
Let me just say that I really like my neighbor because he doesn’t get into my business and I don’t get into his… One day I was visibly drooling over the amount of over grown vegetation in his yard. My eyes were full of longing as I thought of all the money I could save on pasture raising my animals there. He misinterpreted my facial expression and started telling me he would get everything trimmed up that very weekend. I saw my opportunity and I went for it. Now, I am the proud overseer of a large yard of overgrown grass and weeds, which my girls will take down in no time. In turn, he no longer needs to worry about the city complaining about his overgrown lawn. Win-win for everyone….
I woke up the next morning all excited about my new grazing opportunity. I wish I could include a video here of my kids and I trying to catch my chickens and convince them to go into the neighbor’s yard… Finally, we put a dish of meal worms in a cage. The girls eagerly ran in the gobble up their treat. We placed the cage on a wagon and off we went to transport them to the green on the other side of the fence. At the end of the night we repeated the process to get them back into the coop and there we have it—pasture-raised chickens!… (My son and I are working on building a chicken tractor, which could be the solution to all this back and forth.)
I know this solution is not for everyone, but I wanted to knock you outside the homesteading box. It might be time for a little off-roading, unconventional, get-to-know-your-neighbor time. Who knows, you might end up being a blessing to a single mom who is really struggling to keep control of her landscape….
3.) Grow a bed just for feeding your hungry egg suppliers.
A cool season choice for your new garden bed would be to liberally spread seed of annual ryegrass, crimson clover, fava beans, hairy vetch, winter peas, kale, winter rye or winter wheat. Cover your bed with a low hoop house of PVC pipes and frost cloth and you have a sheltered place to grow all winter.
Some warm season choices would be buckwheat, cowpeas and millet. Sunflowers are also a fun summer choice to grow for harvesting the seed heads for your chickens…
It goes without saying that you will have to protect your growing beds until they are full and ready for your egg laying divas to chow down on. I made a lightweight wooden frame covered in chicken wire to protect my growing chicken food, but a wire fence would work as well.
Although I have been growing fodder in soil-filled flats for some time, the raised bed method will be a lot less work for me…