The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Grains in the chicken forest pasture

Field of millet in AfricaIn addition to our grains for human consumption, I plan to incorporate some grains into the non-forested part of our new chicken forest pasture.  I'll let the chickens scratch up one of the flat areas well, then turn the birds into another paddock while I broadcast buckwheat, millet, and perhaps corn seeds into the distressed ground.  After three months, I'll be able to rotate the chickens which we plan to keep for the winter into the grain paddock so that they can supplement their winter foraging with grains.

I've already outlined the method for growing buckwheat and everyone knows how to grow corn.  But how do you grow millet?  Unfortunately, several different species (each in their own genus, so only vaguely related) are called by the name "millet" and each has its own growing requirements.  Pearl millet has the largest seeds and the advantage of threshing free from its hulls naturally, but pearl millet also requires warm temperatures and may not set seed in cold climates.  Proso millet can be grown in cooler areas since it requires only 60 to 90 days to mature, and Titus emailed me that her chickens adore the seeds so I suspect the hull doesn't bother them.  Have you grown millet in your garden?  If so, what kind, and how did it do?

Mark's chicken waterer should be part of any chicken pasture since it won't spill and provides copious clean water.

This post is part of our Homegrown Whole Grains lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I grew the variety the local seed store sold. Usually a reliable choice.
Comment by Errol Thu Apr 1 12:39:01 2010
I bought a few hundred pounds of "screenings" from a local seed company for chicken feed. It had millet seed in it I guess because we had feral millet around the yard last year. I'm curious if it will return this year.
Comment by brett Thu Apr 1 17:54:41 2010

Daddy --- what were you growing millet for? (I hope you didn't tell me this already --- if so, I've forgotten. :-) )

Brett --- I'd never heard of seed screenings. Very permaculture of you to have figured it out and gotten the free feed!

Comment by anna Thu Apr 1 19:44:07 2010
I grew millet for biomass along with red clover cover crop, and for the birds. Couldn't get rid of it last summer and decided it is truly for the birds.
Comment by Errol Fri Apr 2 08:20:18 2010
Maybe that means it'll turn into a "perennial" in the chicken pasture here. That would be perfect!
Comment by anna Fri Apr 2 11:12:21 2010

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