Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Experimental beans and seeds for chickens

SunjflowerSeed ordering season is upon us, so I figure it's time to put some thought into planning out our chicken pasture plantings as well.  I summed up the conclusions from my experiments with growing grains last year on my homesteading blog --- clearly, the easiest grain for us to grow is amaranth, and I'd like to also try out field corn and pearl millet in the summer and rye next winter.  But I want to put most of my energy into trying out higher protein seeds since the best laying pellets are at least 16% protein.  Here are some of the experimental crops I plan to grow in the high protein category:

  • Sunflower seeds aren't really experimental since we had great luck with them last year in the garden.  At about 26% protein, the seeds are very good for our flock (although I have to be aware that they are also high in phytic acid), and I learned this year that our chickens love them.
  • Cowpeas (Vigna savi) caught my eye since they are one of the legumes with the lowest concentration of problematic phytic acid.  Cowpeas also go by the name of black-eyed peas when being fed to people rather than livestock.  Unfortunately, they're pretty low on protein for a legume, being only about 13% protein by dry weight.
  • Field peas (Vigna sativum) are 21% protein by dry weight, but are high in phytic acid.  Since field peas can be planted in spring long before the frost-free date, they'll allow us to get more out of the pasture paddocks by planting an extra crop per year.

I plan for 2011 to be a test year, working the kinks out of our chicken feed growing system and helping me figure out which crops are best to grow.  By 2012, I'm hopeful that homegrown feed will be a higher percentage of our chickens' diet.

Our homemade chicken waterer is a great complement to a healthy diet --- clean water to go with good food.

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