I’ve been meaning to write a post on Choosing Chickens, but have been busy clearing snow so that my hens can get to fresh grass each day. Every day one of my hens has flown up and perched on my shoulder. That’s not unusual. The hens have grown used to finding food where I’m working, and frequently follow me around. I’m not sure whether it is always the same hen that perches like this, as many of the chickens look similar. I don’t prompt her, and often it comes as a bit of a surprise to me, when I hear wings flap, and feel the weight on my shoulder. We reared these hens by hand, and they are used to getting food from me. I guess that I’m ‘mum’ in many ways. There are pictures of these chickens being reared in the Old English Game Chickens gallery.
Some of my recent posts have had information about Hardy Bamboo in them. Much of the information for those posts have come from two Bamboo books. I thought that I’d post about them too, and do a kind of mini book review, comparing the relative benefits of each.
In my previous post about Hardy Bamboo, I looked at some of the plants that might be used in conjunction with chickens. Most will provide shelter, and an ideal environment for a Chicken Scavenging System. However that’s not all of the functions that bamboo can fulfill, and in this post I want to explore some of these other functions. After all one of the principles of Permaculture is that every element should provide more than one function. A permaculture principle that is very close to my heart, and which underpins the way that I design.
The functions that bamboo provide naturally are shelter from weather and predators I mentioned these in the previous post. You can read the earlier Chicken and Bamboo if you haven’t already done so.
Hardy Bamboo and Chickens are an ideal combination. Whilst bamboo doesn’t provide food for chickens, it does provide an ideal environment for them, and for the insects that they love to feed on.
Perhaps I should rephrase that. Bamboo isn’t known as a chicken food, but nobody told my chickens. They seem happy to browse on the young tender leaves. Here at the Sustainable Smallholding we are growing Hardy Bamboo. and keeping chickens, but the combination of the two is something that I’m really looking forward to.
My Chicken Scavenging System is designed to feed my Chickens using insects living on the floor of a type of Forest Garden, to reduce the amount of wheat and other grains that I need to feed to them. I described this Permaculture system of my own design, in my Chicken Scavenging System Design that was written up as one of the ten portfolio designs for the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. The Scavenging System is designed to build up a deep litter of leaves and rotting wood, which is an ideal environment for insects, on which the chickens can feed.The problem is that this will take years to develop, so I am using another Permaculture technique called ‘Chop and Drop‘ to speed the process up.