Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: Shrubs / bushes for hens  (Read 4935 times)

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Shrubs / bushes for hens
« on: November 15, 2013, 09:41:01 am »
Not really gardening but plant related. Our chicken run is up on a hill and quite exposed. We have noticed that our birds lay better in our lower pen which has trees / shrubs, less wind and more interest in general. So, what we thought is to plant out a load of shrubs / trees in the pen. I'm looking for something hardy, evergreen and fast growing but not invasive like willow or something. It needs to be easy to kill off / remove of required in the future. Obviously price comes into it as well. We plan for the field to be an orchard in the future but I don't think young fruit trees will provide the sort of shelter we are after in a hurry although they could be part of it.

I actually thought of something like Christmas trees that they could get in around and have a scratch.

JulieWall

  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2013, 12:00:40 pm »
Why not plant something in there which they can eat? We started some Siberian pea trees for ours but any leguminous plant, even vetch in the grass mix, will provide food for them and fix nitrogen into the soil to boot.
Another trick is to plant in tubs and then add the tubs to the hen run so that the birds don't destroy the crop until it is established.
Remember that hens like to scratch, so anything you plant in there which has roots which tend to lie near the surface may need protecting with some chicken wire just under the soil. They can eat grubs and seeds that way but not damage the plants. Our hens have currant bushes in their run, they eat the lower fruit and we get the best stuff from the centre of the bush and the top layers where the sun ripens them better. Because the birds take the lower stuff a bit prematurely the plant puts all it's energy into making big fat berries out of the fruit that's left, so it actually works quite well.
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners
http://theroundhouseforum.co.uk/

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2013, 12:14:35 pm »
Thats a great idea. I'm looking for something that has a use as well as providing shade / food for the hens. I'm considering some willow screens as well with a view to harvesting firewood in a few years.

JulieWall

  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2013, 12:22:33 pm »
I just realised I forgot to tell you the other thing we have in place (mum phoned, lol) on the other side of the fence to their run we have various herbs planted, including wormwood, which they can peck at but not demolish. Anything that grows through the wire into their run is fair game of course, but again, it stops them from destroying the whole plant. I can't remember who it was but Bob Flowerdew springs to mind, whoever it was we read that he uses old tyres to plant in and makes a dome of chicken wire over the top so his hens can peck at whatever grows through the wire but not destroy the plant. Planting things around the outside of the run creates a wind break for them as well.
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners
http://theroundhouseforum.co.uk/

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2013, 12:33:40 pm »
We've planted (70 trees) / are planting (50) apple trees in the poultry pens to give two crops off the same land but I was reading about forest gardening the other night and wondered about planting currant bushes between the apple trees.

Do you do black, red, white? What about gooseberries?

happygolucky

  • Joined Jan 2012
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 02:33:34 pm »
We had a few shrubs that the chickens did not touch, sadly now they have been re homed I think I will be doing a hell of a lot of weeding. I have a few Buddleia, although they can get out of hand very quickly they are easy to cut back and the chickens leave them alone but the butterflies etc love them...then Rhododendron , some camellia and then fruit trees although my apple tree was a bit low and the chickens did pick the low apples...we also have a pretty crab apple, woodbine plants and some bits of honey suckle and roses, then Holly and another evergreen shrub that I cannot remember the name of!!! I wanted to plant some eucalyptus but found the tree size I like too expensive for me, we also have a Christmas tree in a planter! :innocent: 

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2013, 05:44:59 pm »
I like the idea of the herbs in mesh. I had a similar idea myself where the plants grew through mesh and they could just constantly harvest the growth they could reach. Tyres would be a great idea.

Rosemary

  • Joined Oct 2007
  • Barry, Angus, Scotland
    • The Accidental Smallholder
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 05:47:03 pm »
I like the idea of the herbs in mesh. I had a similar idea myself where the plants grew through mesh and they could just constantly harvest the growth they could reach. Tyres would be a great idea.

Growing comfrey like that would be a good idea - hens love it and it's good for them.

HesterF

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Kent
  • HesterF
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2013, 11:28:38 pm »
We're the same as Rosemary - we've fenced off a big poultry run and are gradually planting it up as orchard inside. I also have my pumpkin and asparagus bed in there but that will need to be fenced off from the birds most of the time (the asparagus permanently). The geese have been a problem because they can reach over the chicken wire surrounds so I've had to juggle the fencing to keep them away from the baby trees until I can work out how to get the tree trunks protected from them (I'm pruning to half standard so the trees branch at just over a metre which is within neck's stretch of a goose). 

I tried to plant gooseberries and raspberries with them last year and they were decimated so now the raspberries have been planted on the outside of the run. Otherwise they definitely need wiring for a  good while to establish. I also tried willow cuttings and must be the only person in the world ever to have had them all fail and I don't think it was the birds fault - the chewing came afterwards. I've planted climbing roses, grapevines and lavender along the outside of our smaller run but not so much for wind shelter. The willow was supposed to be for that  ::).

H

JulieWall

  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2013, 09:30:23 am »
It sounds as if a few of you are warming to the ideas used in permaculture  :excited: Forest gardens are a great resource but you don't have to go the whole hog and create a forest garden just take what you need from the principles of getting more than one use out of everything in your system and try to put all your waste back into the system in some way, make it as self sustaining as possible. You can practice permaculture in a small back garden using pots and planters if that's all you have to work with.
It's a huge subject but well worth dipping into, you'll soon see how productive it is. Check out Geoff Lawton on youtube, look for 'greening the dessert', I'm confident that you'll be impressed.

Rosemary, we have all manner of red white and blackcurrants and gooseberries in our FG as well as 3 varieties of gooseberry/b'currant hybrids, brambles, chokeberries, berberis, strawbs, rasps, a chocolate vine - not had the fruit from it yet but keen to try it - rhubarb, black elder, hazels, apples, pears, plums and cherries although we don't get much top fruit here most years. That's just the fruit! We keep a lookout for unusual perennial edibles too, we have tree onions and globe artichokes, all sorts of herbs and medicinal plants too. We need as much bee fodder as possible to extend the season for our girls and the many bumbles round here. We do a bit of guerrilla planting in the hedges, things like as honeysuckle and ivy. it's surprising how many edible flowers and weeds there are too once you start looking into it.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2013, 09:42:16 am by JulieWall »
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners
http://theroundhouseforum.co.uk/

Stereo

  • Joined Aug 2012
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2013, 10:11:57 am »
That's exactly the way I'm going. I've been watching loads of Salatin stuff on youtube and it really opens your eyes to symbiotic systems in agriculture. I'm seriously looking into converting the acre and a half in front of our house into a permaculture garden but as you say, it's a massive subject and not to be rushed into. I'll check out Geoff Lawton, thanks.

madchickenlady

  • Joined Nov 2013
  • Old Newton Suffolk
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 05:20:52 pm »
Anyone interested in unusual edibles should take a look at James Wong's 'Home grown Revolution' book, for instance did you know that Mahonia and Fuchsias are commercially grown in Chile as edible fruits! Suttons produce a range of seeds to accompany the book.  :thumbsup:
Heather

JulieWall

  • Joined Aug 2013
  • Cornhill, Banff
    • The Roundhouse
Re: Shrubs / bushes for hens
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2013, 09:58:56 am »
Thanks MCL I'll check that out. If any of them make good bee fodder too they will be ideal.
Permaculture and smallholding, perfect partners
http://theroundhouseforum.co.uk/

 

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