No-Till Pasture Overseeding with Chickens

Employ your birds as no-till planters for fertile, diverse pastures.

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by Dave Perozzi
Where the chickens have traveled, fields will flourish, generating diverse forage for cattle.

Do chickens improve soil? Learn how to use pastured chickens for overseeding pasture ahead of grazing livestock such as cattle.

If you’ve raised broiler chickens in mobile shelters on pasture, then you’re familiar with the view looking back along the path the chickens have traveled, where plants are flattened and covered in chicken manure. Then, as you scan farther back, you’ll see the grass recovering, with a rich green hue from the flush of fertility. Looking at that same sight on my farm, I’ve been wondering how I might take greater advantage of all of that regrowth. So, for the past two seasons, I’ve been experimenting with using chickens as no-till planters to seed annuals into my perennial pastures.

Red-speckled chickens freely foraging in the grass in the garden. Close up, the hen looks…

While the pasture plants all respond well to the effects of grazing, trampling, and manure, there’s a period of dormancy in the grass immediately after the grazing event. In addition to using chickens, I’ve been interested in figuring out which annual crops might be able to use this short period to germinate and find a niche within the existing plant community. My ultimate goal has been to increase the total amount of plant regrowth in the wake of poultry grazing. I do this assuming that the more growth I get from different plants, the more I can improve my soil structure and function, and the more forage my pastures will produce for my cattle.

Pastured Chicken Rotation for Seed Starting

  • Updated on Mar 15, 2024
  • Originally Published on Feb 23, 2024
Tagged with: cattle, chickens, pasture management, pastured chickens, Pastured Poultry
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