Avian Aqua Miser: Automatic, poop-free chicken waterers

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Fallowing a chicken pasture

Chicken going through a pophole

Last year, I concluded that seeding new species into a chicken pasture doesn't work unless you can keep the flock out of that pasture for several months.  Chickens love tender new growth, and they'll happily peck up baby clover and grass plants before they get established.  So I'm continuing to set aside Chicken Pasture 6 in 2013 in hopes of establishing a good colony of clover.

To back up, we fenced this pasture in 2011, but by the middle of the summer we discovered that the plants coming up in the trees' shade weren't able to handle much grazing.  By the beginning of 2012, the ground was pretty much bare, so I seeded buckwheat followed by oilseed radishes to improve the soil.  This winter, I let our flock eat up the oilseed radishes, and by early February the ground was once again bare and ready for clover planting.

Clover seed

Although we can get white and red clover seeds more cheaply at our local feed store, I opted to try out some fancy varieties purchased online.  This mixture of New Zealand White Clover and Strawberry Clover is supposed to be low-lying and good in orchards, able to deal with shade and/or sun.  The recommended seeding rate is a bit high for clover (20 to 25 pounds per acre), so I scattered the entire pound of seed in our twentieth of an acre pasture.

Lichen-covered stick

After giving the pasture the rest of the year off, I'm hopeful we'll have a delectable stand of clover for the chickens to start grazing in 2014.  I'd like to do the same in two other pastures, but I've got to weigh the benefits of food now versus food later, so it seems to make sense to take one spot at a time.

Moss and lichen

Meanwhile, isn't this the most beautiful stick you've ever seen?  Lichen and moss atop lichen atop bark....

Our chicken waterer is the perfect fit for pastures since it never spills on uneven ground.  A bucket of water can last a medium-sized flock for a month!

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