I love growing a garden for my family to eat from, and a while back I realized that we were not the only ones who could benefit from the harvest...
- Growing extras in the garden for the flock cuts feed costs.
- Eating a diet rich in leafy greens, herbs, and other produce improves the chickens' health.
- I feel a bit more justified about planting way too much in the Spring. (I can go a bit overboard!)
I boost this savings by planting a few extras in the gardens that the chickens can benefit from, like all those nutrient rich leafy greens--kale, arugula, and chard are some of my (and their) favorites. I also have fruit trees they can glean fallen fruit from and berry canes they can forage beneath. The latter two are particularly beneficial to me simply because the chickens clean up any bad fruit and berries that have dropped, and that's one less task for me!
Leafy greens provide a plethora of nutrients and antioxidants, and are a wonderful "fuel food". They provide us and our flocks with the energy and fuel our bodies need to stay active and in good health. Herbs have many beneficial qualities, too, and I like to toss excess basil, rosemary, thyme, and mints into the run and let the flock feast away. Basil has antibacterial properties, rosemary & thyme aid respiratory issues, and mints are cleansing with the added benefit of being rodent deterrents. Using these and other herbs are a nice way to feed and care for my flock naturally--and tossing a few edible flowers in adds a little spice to the mix!
Any extras I get when I'm out gleaning from the garden go straight to the flock--who is usually hovering at the garden gate, begging for a freshly harvested treat. And when the greens start to bolt and turn bitter and I don't want to eat them anymore, I know who feels differently. The chickens consider them a buffet--and a tasty one at that. I toss the harvested plants, roots and all, to the flock and watch them gobble up what would otherwise have been thrown in the compost pile.
I mentioned before about how my flock cleans up the fallen fruit from the trees and berry canes. Not only does this solve the problem of my having to harvest every last fruit on the branches and vines, but because the chickens don't mind eating rotten fruit, they clean up a mess that would otherwise cause a stink and draw in additional pests. I get what I want from the harvest, and they get something too.
And believe me, that hasn't always been the case. Sorry to burst your bubble--I know you think I'm perfect. Probably because I keep saying I am! (Wink, wink.)