Foraging Chicken Food

       I make a special effort to forage some chicken food just because I like to see how happy it makes the chickens in the middle of winter.  I also like to think that a varied diet makes them healthier.  In late December and on, I'll start feeding them a handful a day of something foraged and stored up just for them.  I'll dry pig weed and clover all summer long in small bunches.  It helps keep my egg yolks a deep orange in the middle of winter.

       A couple of days ago I walked our recreational trail (a beautiful walk!) with a 5 gallon bucket looking for berries for the chickens.  I found: (excuse my fuzzy pics!)

 Highbush Cranberries. 
 The chickens love them (as do wild birds).
I made jelly out of them a couple years back.  I did not like it.
I understand that some varieties of  highbush cranberries taste
better than others.  The chickens don't care, they seem to relish them.
The leaves look like currant leaves.

...and I found some winterberries.
These aren't the flavor winterberry, but that is what they are called here.
Chickens love them.  (as do wild birds)
They also make a beautiful dried berry for holiday arrangements.
That's another post :-)

The Virginia Creeper was a beautiful red everywhere.......

And the Virginia Creeper had berries.
I DID NOT collect these!!  Can we say poisonous?
 (you knew that -- right Mama Pea & Erin?)
They look just like wild grapes, and in fact grow right in with
wild grapes!  The only way to really identify them especially after the leaves drop, is the red stem. 
Grapes do not have a red stem.  If someone offers you some wild grape jelly....ask them if they know
 what virginia creeper berries look like.  If they don't...I wouldn't eat it. :-)

     Any berries I collect will be air dried in the garage and then just stored in a bucket.  Highbush cranberries, winterberry, wild grapes, & rose hips, will all be dried for their winter buffet.  A good field guide for your area is really needed if you decide to go foraging.....but you should do it just to see the happy chickens!

.....dr momi

Linked To : Homestead Barn Hop
Linked To:  Frugal Day Sustainable Ways


TexWisGirl said...

oh, that is so cool that you do this for them! i love it!

Jane @ Hard Work Homestead said...

Ah ha! I wondered if what I had growing on my garage was wild grapes or part of that creeper. I almost ate one,just licked it instead. Not much taste. So glad you cleared this up before I poisoned myself:)

dr momi said...

Aahhh....glad to be of assistance Jane! :-)

laughwithusblog said...

Those are some lucky chickens! lol

Mama Pea said...

I was surprised when Jane asked a couple of days ago if my Virginia Creeper had berries. I've never seen anything that looked in any shape or form like a berry on mine. Now I'm thinking there's something wrong that my Virginia Creeper doesn't get berries! Good to have the knowledge that (should I ever find berries on mine) they are poisonous!

Jill said...

Just happened upon your blog and have become your newest follower. So looking forward to it. :)

Intentional Living Homestead said...

Good info on the poisonous berries.

dr momi said...

Mama Pea....maybe you bought your Virginia Creeper? It's possible that a "tame" version doesn't get berries. I don't know for sure -- just guessing.

Amy Dingmann said...

No wonder your chickens love you! :)

Candy C. said...

Gosh, we have TONS of pigweed (amaranth) this year! When would I harvest and how would I preserve it?

dr momi said...

Candy C....what we call pigweed around here is I think really pursalane (sp?). ---I know my pigs loved it LOL! First make sure the chickens like your amaranth fresh. If they do, then hang small bunches upside down in the garage (or wherever). It should dry just fine!

Kim said...

You might as well find a productive use for pigweed, I guess. One man's trash is another's treasure! I'm glad the chickens like it. It's not on the farmer's "good list" around here. The real treasure was a walk on a beautiful fall day, right?! (I love the photos of your grandkids playing. What cuties!)

Green Bean said...

How great. I never thought of drying things for them to eat in the winter! I did grow plenty of sunflowers for them. Thanks for the suggestion.

dr momi said...

Green Bean....I grew sunflowers for the chickens too. But, they are really high in fat so I only feed small amounts when it's like, 10 below zero, to help keep them warm. Thanks so much for commenting!!

Unknown said...

As you know, I'm a devout follower of your blog! I, too, forage for my chickens, the friendly Speckled Sussex. When they hear me coming, they rush, trying to fly, from all over their yard just to see what goodies I've brought them. Usually, it's vegetable scraps but sweet clover seems to be their favorite treat.

Tell us, Dr. Momi, what vegetable scraps should we avoid giving to chickens?

dr momi said...

Ronda....I can't think of anything off hand. Some vegetables would be better utilized by the chickens if they were cooked first. (I cook my organic potato peelings for them) I do feed meat scraps also, helps with the protein. A good rule to follow is "moderation", not too much of one thing all at once. (if their butts get pasty -- it was too much) I know what you mean about them coming flying to see what goody I have :-)

Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable said...

Thank you so very much for linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways:) I'm so happy to "meet" you! I am totally loving your blog and your posts! I really hope you make Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways a part of your Wednesdays! And keep the great posts comin'
Very sincerely,
Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable