Sunday, February 14, 2016

Growin' green

I always feel bad in the winter, that the chickens don't have access to fresh grass.  Giving my Barred Rocks salad greens was never successful. They'd look at me like "you want us to do what with that?"  This winter I decided to grow some grass especially for the chickens. I found these cupcake carriers, and eight inch square cake tins to fit in them, at the Dollar Tree.

 I drilled 4 holes in the bottom, at the corners. You wouldn't have to, but without drainage holes, be sure not to over water.  I already had some organic grass seed and organic soil.

 I filled the pans with soil, and covered the surface with seeds. I lightly covered with soil, and sprayed with water. 

I then put the tins in the cupcake carriers, and set them in front of the window. 


SIGH. NO, Skeeter, it was not meant to be a cat seat.

 Winter rye doesn't need warmth to germinate, so within a few days, I had sprouts. Once the grass starts sprouting, it's good to leave the top off so the soil doesn't develop mold from too much moisture, and kill the sprouts.

My original idea was to build an enclosure to hold the tin, so the chickens could only access the grass sticking out of it.  They'd still pull be able to pull the grass out and kill the plants. I then decided to keep the tins in the house. This way, I cut the grass periodically and feed it to the chickens. I don't, however, give them long blades of grass. For the adult chickens, I chop it to no longer than one inch lengths, probably more like 1/2 inch lengths, and, for the babies in the brooder, I chop it very fine, probably about an 1/8 to a 1/4 of an inch long.  The reason for chopping the grass is that chickens can get an impacted crop by ingesting long blades of grass.

A few of the chickens enjoying some fresh cut grass.

Even the baby chickens devour the grass.

 I also grew some buckwheat since I already had the organic seed.

This is what happens when you give them the tin and leave them to their own devices. Yep. Doesn't last long.

 So, there you have it. An easy, inexpensive way to grow some vitamin packed grass for your chooks in winter.