Meat chickens aren’t exactly the most fun animals to raise. Sure, they’re easy and fast, but they’re pretty gross critters, especially the cornish cross. Add to that the fact that we don’t make much money off of the chickens and they’d seem like something we’d get rid of.
The other day I decided that I’d keep the chickens around even if they didn’t make us any money. Why?
Because they can do amazing things for our pastures.
Have a good look at this picture of our worst pasture from 2 years ago.
And then compare it to the same spot this year.
See a bit of difference?
Yep, that’s the difference that a bit of strategically-placed hay and chicken poop can make.
Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
This is the state of the pasture when we first acquired the farm. It looks great if you like sand, lichen and a few dead plants. But compare it to this spring, two years of pastured-chickens later.
Can’t quite see the ground through all the grass and clover.
Dig at it a bit and you can get a bit closer to the dirt. Funny thing, the dirt is completely covered with organic matter and is surprisingly damp given the near 100% sand that’s underneath.
To be sure, there are a few places where the pasture hasn’t improved much, but it’s mainly confined to the areas that were dug up last summer when we installed our water lines. You can see the pasture-plant secession going left to right.
And then you’ve got big swaths of the pasture that look totally different, completely covered in red clover, white clover and birdsfoot-trefoil.
So there it is.
Two years of pastured chickens, spreading old hay, and feeding hay-bales in the winter.
No seed, no fertilizer, no lime, no problem.