chicken pasture — buckwheat

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When the lower flowers on our buckwheat turn brown, signaling that its earliest seeds are ripe, we put the chickens on that patch, either in tractors — sliding pens —  or behind netting.  With tractors, we knock down a section of buckwheat each day when the pen is moved.  This gives the chickens forage, seeds, and litter all in one go, but only knocks down the buckwheat in gradual stages.  If we are going to pen the birds on the whole patch at once, we put poly-netting around it, park one or two coops or tractors inside for nighttime shelter, and turn the birds in.  They like the shade under the tall plants, and scratch around in the cool, damp soil, adding their own shot of nitrogen, which the growing plants take up and store.  Later, while the chickens are still there, we’ll mow what’s left of the buckwheat and let the chickens forage and aerate the litter.

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