Monday, March 22, 2010

Vetch and Rape for My Chickens and Coturnix Quail

Folks raising poultry, or thinking about trying it, need to know JUST how much raw green plant matter that chickens love to eat daily, and that does wonders for their health and their laying great eggs. The 'A C Greenfix Chickling Vetch' (a hybrid Lathyrus) and the open-pollinated Bonar plants have gotten big enough to allow for daily harvests now. It took just a minute or two to use scissors to chop up handfuls of both into beak-sized bits into this dumpster-dived pharmacy tray. The girls and Mr. Rooster clucked happily the whole time they scarfed it all down. The Bonar will die when the heat returns in May as, like all Brassicas, it is a winter crop in central Florida. I suspect the vetch will prove to be too, but I am clinging to a faint hope that it will prove to be perennial here. If not, I hope it flowers and sets seeds heavily so I can be my own source of seed each year. Since ornamental Lathyrus, like annual and perennial Sweet Peas, make beautiful blooms, I am looking forward to seeing the blooms this vetch makes. IF it turns out to be perennial, I will be curious if the now-dormant sweet potatoes beneath the vetch groundcover mingle with it once they sprout and send up vines, or if one competes with the other. All I know is that in the meantime, my chickens and Coturnix quail are loving their daily raw greens. John

Chopped vetch on the left, chopped Bonar on the right.

Happy Chickens!

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