subtropical chicken fodder/forage plants

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Richard on Maui, Jan 27, 2005.

  1. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    A while ago I wrote asking about the contents of commercially available chicken feeds and asked what people were doing in the way of growing their own. I promised to report back with success/failure stories as they came to hand...
    Well, so far, we are still feeding our birds the same old concentrates from the feed store, but I guess there is light at the end of that tunnel.
    I think I mentioned before that we supplement their diet with coconuts found here and there. Until our coconuts mature and produce we have an irregular supply, but we grind or grate those we come by with a little purpose built hand grinder and when the teeth of the grinder start to pick up the brown bits of the shell along with the white meat we reserve the rest of that coco for the birds, or alternatively we just crack them open with a machete and then score each half roughly with a sharp pocket knife and kind of pop out the meat into little cubes. The chooks seem to eat them happily in either form.
    Of course, we are also giving them comfrey leaves...
    Pidgeon pea (cajanus cajans) seeds are easy to grow, and the chooks love them, but shelling them for storage is a time consuming chore. If we leave them in the pods too long here they get eaten by some kind of weevil. So far our chooks don't seem to get the idea that inside the hard brown pod there are some yummy peas. If anyone has any ideas for a homemade processor (I am thinking of a 5 gallon bucket (20 litres for antipodes) and some sort of weedeater involvement...) please let us know...
    Short of those ideas, I discovered in feeding the goats that all animals positively adore cassava leaves. They are high in protein no?
    Of course we are planting papaya's and mulberries with the chooks in mind as cleaner upperers. We have a lot of wild guava and lillikoi (passionfruit) which they eat readily also.
    Has anyone any experience of feeding chickens banana hearts? I read something by Mollison about it once, but I've never really had my chooks go for it...
    please blow me away with ideas for edibles for our poultry. I can't think I have begun to exhaust the possibilities.
     
  2. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    okra

    I realised tonight that we feed our chooks quite a lot of okra that has gotten too tough for human consumption... We have to cut the pods open so they can get to the seeds but they really go for them.
    Not sure what the nutrient analysis would be of gumbo seeds or how it would fit into the ideal permaculture chicken diet but it would be interesting to kn0w.
    I am sure that one day someone else will report interest in this subject. Until then I will just keep on crapping on about what little victories I have with my flocks of chooks. :roll:
     
  3. Cly

    Cly Junior Member

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    Paw paw in the chook pen is awesome, the flowers work some magic with chook parasites and chooks just love paw paw. The didn't damage the trees at all. We had many paw paw trees in our chook pen when we were littlins.

    You mentioned you are tired of shelling pigeon peas, I wasn't aware of all the hassle with pigeon peas - I had planned on growing a few vines on the chook pen for them. Might pay to grab a fodder forest book, should be something in there. This is an intersting topic...
     
  4. Cly

    Cly Junior Member

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    Anything more to crap on about Richard? :) Feel free to, you've got my attention for sure, this subject is very interesting and I am also looking for solutions for my chookies.

    What sort of chooks do you have anyways? All my chooks bar one lot were rescued from cage egg 'factories', the other lot I mentioned were Bantams and they were fun to keep until a rogue snake got in and killed them all, bugger, I loved those chooks. I definately want to get some poor old cage layers again if you still can when I move onto my property.
     
  5. SueinWA

    SueinWA Junior Member

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    Cly, have your ex-egg factory hens been debeaked? That's what they do to most of them here, because they're so close they peck each other.

    How do they act when they suddenly have a real home? Shock City?

    Sue
     
  6. funkyfungus

    funkyfungus Junior Member

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    I recall both leucaena (seed) and desmanthus virgatus (seed and foliage) make good hen forage
     
  7. Cly

    Cly Junior Member

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    This was years ago that I got them, they weren't debeaked. I know some do get it that bad though :( They couldn't walk for a good while, it took just over a week for one to clumsily walk around, two more followed suit and one didn't make it. They are a bit stunned when you give them such a huge space and you have to take care of them frequently for a good while, moving the water to them or them to the water etc. But it's very satisfying to do, also very heartbreaking at the same time to see them like that because of fellow humans :(

    I don't know if you can still rescue them, I hope so.
     
  8. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Our computer crashed so I haven't been visiting for a while.
    The old chicken diet thing eh. Well, I'm a bit sorry to say that we have been a bit slack and that since our flock has been producing enough eggs that we can sell enough surplus to neighbours etc to cover the commercial feed cost, we have just been doing that really. They get some coconut when we get low on feed, and have access to grass and weeds from the garden, and foodscraps from a friendly restaurant too.
    But having said that, interestingly, two of the suggestions that I just read, Papaya and Leuceana are both things that we have planted around our chicken system in the last few weeks that we have been offline! We have been going a bit insane building a coop out of junk that we found on the roadside and at the dump (chooks love it), and have being going really insane building a fencing system out of wild harvested bamboo (very time consuming but beautiful and free)... Anyway, the plan is that when the bamboo is no lon ger serviceable as a fence (1-3 years in this climate, especially if it ever rains again) our plantings of living fences will be strong enough to contain the chooks. We are looking at mulberry and fig to be the main "fedge" species, but are also going to try atemoya (simply because we over propagated a bunch of seed thinking it would make good rootstock for grafting experiments and were then told that the best root stocks are actually pond apple, and that the atemoya rootstock would initially be too vigourous and later would probably succumb to root rot...) elderberry, mysore rasberry and any other chicken fodder type easy cutting plant we can think of. The idea is to pleach the lower stems into a lattice, yeah? Of course, non fruiting species of living fence can be planted with fruiting vines; passionfruit, choko, beans etc.
    We actually took big cuttings (truncheons) of leucueana and planted them as fence posts for the bamboo, so if they strike we might get some fodder out of them too. There are already young coconuts planted on the peripherary of the chicken system too. Oh, and Panax is in there as well, though that isn't edible is it?

    Oh, we have all kinds of chooks - big brown ones are the best layers, they came from the feedstore as chicks and I think were rhode island reds or barnvelders or something, then we have a bunch of wild island fowl that we caught in the barn of this upcountry cowboy dude, who was sick of all the chickens that had started roosting in his horse barn - they include a few araucanas but are mostly this pretty light breed that are generally black and you know, flighty, probably not great meat birds (of course even the scrawniest bird usually has pretty good breast meat!) and not heavy layers either, but excellent scratchers. Then we have this motley assortment that these people gave as 5 day olds when they moved house and their new landllords wouldn't allow chickens - they gave 8 altogether, 4 different breeds, but we don't know exactly what kinds. 2 are definitely gonna be araucanas, and then there are two that are all white and have huge feet and grew twice as fast as the rest. I think they are Suffolks or something. Either way, they all scratch around pretty well, and they all make chicken manure, which is the main way they earn their keep!

    I will have to look up Desmanthus. Thanks for the feedback by the way.
     
  9. funkyfungus

    funkyfungus Junior Member

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    desmanthus



    https://www.fs.fed.us/global/iitf/pdf/sh ... rgatus.pdf

    also

    Leguminosae

    Synonyms

    * Desmanthus depressus Humb. & Bonpl. ex Willd.
    * Mimosa virgata L.



    Author: Le Houérou




    Common names

    Dwarf koa, desmanthus (Hawaii).

    Description

    Under-shrub or small shrub, 2 to 3 m tall, habit variable, nearly erect or (more commonly) diffuse or decumbent; branchlets glabrous. Looks like a dwarf non-thorny Acacia or Leucaena leucocephala but has slender, angular, pithy stems, smaller leaflets and narrow pods. Leaves moderately small, bipinnate; 10 to 20 leaflet pairs per pinna, petiole usually no more than 5 mm long. Inflorescence of axillary, pedunculate heads toward the tips of the twigs; head small, dense, few-flowered, the flowers all erect, whitish, sessile; pod linear, 4 to 6 cm long and 3 to 4 m wide, flat, glabrous, shortbeaked, dehiscent on both valves, seeds oblique.

    Under cutting treatments, Desmanthus developed a crown similar in many respects to that of alfalfa (lucerne). The size of the crown gradually increased with each successive crop until it was up to 15 cm across after three years. This well-developed, vigorous crown produced as many as 50 slender, erect stems, seldom branched, pithy in the centre, brittle and fairly soft.

    Habitat

    In its native and naturalized habitats Desmanthus tends to colonize open, disturbed land and environments such as roadsides, unused blocks of land, quarries etc. It does not occur in pastures in Hawaii.

    Temperature

    Grows best in hot weather; its frost tolerance is unknown.

    Water

    In Santiago, Cape Verde, it became invasive under 250 mm of MAR but it usually occurs under a rainfall regime of 1000 to 1500 mm. It is quite drought tolerant.

    Soil

    Grows best in sandy and other open-textured soils. In Paraguay it occurs on clay soils. Its pH preference is from 5.0 to 6.5 (Fretes, Samudio and Gray, 1970).

    Distribution

    Native to the American tropics and sub-tropics, sometimes naturalized in African dry lands (e.g. Santiago, Cape Verde), Senegal, Zambia, South Africa. Found in Florida and Texas, United States, to Argentina; West Indies; Galapagos Islands; Hawaii. Found at elevations from sea level up to 300 m.

    Crop management

    Being deep rooted it stands competition from perennial grasses. However, stoloniferous grasses compete with it. It is highly palatabile and can be harvested four times a year in Hawaii, cutting it at the early pod stage. It flowers 45 to 50 days after cutting. In Hawaii, the plants were cut 5 to 7.5 cm above ground with a mower. Cutting at 91-day (four cuts per year) intervals gave the highest yield, 23.68 tonnes/ha/ year over three years; Leucaena leucocephala gave a significantly higher yield than desmanthus.

    The yield of oven-dry forage decreased in the second and third years, but there was no mortality up to the fourth year. In every way, Leucaena leucocephala performed better than desmanthus in Hawaii, but desmanthus is non-toxic (Takahashi and Ripperton, 1949). At Sigatoka in Fiji, desmanthus yielded an average of 7590 kg. DM/ha, of which 64 percent was produced in the wet season and 26 percent in the dry season in a 2000-mm rainfall regime (Payne et al., 1955). At the Kimberley Research Station in northern Australia, Parbery (1967a) obtained dry-matter yields of 35.08 tonnes/ha/year without added nitrogen on Cunnunurra clay and 26.05 tonnes/ha with 100 kg./ha of added nitrogen, cutting the whole plant. When the foliage above 45 cm only was taken, he harvested 63.29 tonnes/ha unfertilized and 70.33 tonnes/ha with 100 kg. added N per hectare, each from four cuts per year.

    Propagation

    It is sown on a well-prepared seed bed at 2 kg./ha and at a depth of 1 to 1.5 cm. The seed should be treated with concentrated sulphuric acid for 8 minutes to break dormancy.

    Products & uses

    It is regarded as a useful forage plant in Argentina (Burkart, 1943) and Colombia (Bermudez et al., 1968). It appears to fix ample nitrogen.

    Nutritional Quality and Animal Production

    The crude-protein content of the whole plant cut at 61-, 91- and 122-day intervals was 10.55 percent, 12.27 percent and 15.52 percent respectively and the average protein content of the leaves was 22.4 percent and of the stems 7.10 percent. Leucaena surpassed desmanthus in protein percentage by one-third.

    References

    Whyte et al. 1955 ; Le Houérou 1980e ; Skerman 1977 ; Skerman et al. 1991 ; Lock 1989.

    Additional Information by Dr. P. Izaguirre de Artucio
     
  10. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Do you know Funky Fungus, I do believe that we have some of your desmanthus growing wild on the property [email protected]! I shall have to watch it now and see if the flowers resemble the ones that came up in the Google image search I jsut did after reading that fabulous post of yours. Good show, what!
     
  11. boris

    boris New Member

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    subtropical chicken fodder/forage plants

    RICHARD ON MAUI'S NOTE 27 JAN 2005
    Pikt up sum useful tips from this note. Thanks.
    Suggest:
    1 It's useful, not to get involvd with preparing food for the chooks. Let 'em feed themselves!
    2 Chooks can, and wil liv off the land, provided they'r suplied with the ryt tucker trees, shrubs and inuf of them. Do u hav inuf acreage to do this?
    3 Scavenging chooks tend to be deficient in protein, so preferance needs to be given to hyer protein seeds, insects, whatever.
    4 Hens are pretty brilliant at selecting what food they want, when they want, to giv a stedy suply of egs. Provided, they are suplied with a surfeit. A choice.
    On 21 deg latitude, frosts, drout, and only 600-700mm of rain pa, I'm strugling.
    With your rainfal and temps, u'd be a very happy individual, u'd be able to grow most anything.
    Boris
     
  12. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Good observations there Boris. I agree that self foraging is the way to go, although I guess to keep them a bit tame you need to carry a bucket of something fairly regularly...
    It is true, we have a lot of rain here. It is a pretty delicious climate, to be sure.
     
  13. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Richard,

    Good thread. I now know that Panax is a type of ginseng and desmanthus sounds like a remarkable permie plant for my place. Its a joy to learn something new every day. [Thanks Funky].

    Also good to hear someone else is committed to pawpaw flowers as a wormer/parasite thing.

    Leucena is a one of those plants. I dont have it on my place, every time I have thought about planting it I have changed my mind. My real concern is volunteer growth due to the huge seed bank it produces. Animals eating it need 'innoculating' with a mimosine-eating gut bacteria. I dont know about chooks/birds. I havent fed leucena seeds to chooks but I cant imagine chickens eating leucena seeds due to their size. Its one of those things I would plant a single specimen and set up a emergency chainsaw station underneath in case I suspected it was going to seed or about to escape.

    I know what you mean about pigeon pea, I just crushed the seed pods with a 4x2 in a drum by pounding them but it was bloody hard work. I have collected seed for our use and saving. I wrapped the pods in a tarp and myself and the kids jumped on them, rolled it over and repeated. It was very inefficient [or we were] we recovered about 30% of available seed. The rest went to the rabbits. I do like pigeon pea as a green feed for chooks, I just pruned the top 3 or 4' off and tossed it over the fence.

    I had an area of chook grass consisting of buffel, townsville stylo[Stylosanthes humilis),eurochloa and cooch which I used to mow maybe once or twice a year. I grew parrot mix too in the vegie garden. Most things were pulled up and tossed over the fence as green feed except the sunflowers which were always left to set seed. The whole semi-dry heads were tossed over the fence.

    We still used to feed them [cracked corn] though as we had a lot of chooks - they did pay their way. The chooks were out free-ranging every day for 3 hours and all weekend. So my system wasnt a closed system I didnt really aim for that.

    The herb rocket is unsurpassed as a chook food and it likes our tropical climes. Plant lots of pawpaw and keep all the male plants for their flowers and leaves.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  14. Cornonthecob

    Cornonthecob Junior Member

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    I was planning on growing pigeon pea in the chook yard....this should be ok shouldn't it?

    And a few other plants.
     
  15. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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  16. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Uh, that last post didn't work quite right, but hopefully you all get my drift...
     
  17. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Corny, yeah, pidgeon peas are great for chooks, but of course, if the birds are in there with the trees the whole time you will need to protect the roots somehow to sopt the birds from scratching them up and knocking the plants over... Rotating the chooks through different pens so that the fodder plants get a rest is a good idea.
     
  18. ho-hum

    ho-hum New Member

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    Richard,


    Normally if i see anything on the forum I dont know I google it not for any other reason than to get more information and learn stuff.


    I didnt save the post but I read about 3 types of ginseng. I wonder if your Panax is from this family.

    [/url]https://www.google.com.au/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-04,GGLD:en&q=Panax Cheers Floot
     
  19. Richard on Maui

    Richard on Maui Junior Member

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    Had a quick look at some thumbnails, and the leaves of the ginseng plant are the same shape as those on the hedge plant I am talking about, but maybe that is why the hedge has its common name - seems unlikely they are related. But maybe... Anyone here actually know? Another question!
     

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