Rent Shop Volunteer Join

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Thursday - November 21, 2013

From: New Caney, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Seeds and Seeding, Grasses or Grass-like
Title: Will Habiturf be chicken feed from New Caney TX
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

How well does your recommended native turf grass mix hold up against chickens or do double duty as feed? I have a mixed use property that will house Rabbits, Poultry (chickens/duck/geese), and eventually sheep (very long time horizon for the sheep). It has a large area of direct sun, but is mostly wooded and will become a multi-product small orchard (3.5 acres). I'm just getting started and would like to begin improving the soil naturally.

ANSWER:

From HenCam.com What to Feed Your Chickens:

"What chickens eat and what chickens should eat are not always the same thing. Chickens are omnivores. That means they’ll snarf down just about anything, or at least try to! I’ve seen a hen catch and slurp down a snake like spaghetti. I’ve seen a chicken snatch a toad by it’s leg and all of the other hens go in a raucous chase after it, only, at the end to discover that a toad is not good eating. Chickens also eat less exciting foods, like vegetables, fruits, flowers and grass. They eat grains and seeds. They scratch the ground and find bugs and specks of things that we can’t see.So, the question isn’t really what chickens eat, but what the right diet is for them."

"From Ask.Com What Do Rabbits Eat?:

Pet rabbits should be fed on rabbit food in the form of mixtures of flaked cereals and pellets are a convenient way of feeding pet rabbits. Wild rabbits spend a lot of time nibbling and chewing at hard fibrous food and their common meals is grass."

From Ask.com: What do Geese Eat?:

"Geese are herbivores, which mean that they eat only plant products. They eat grass, grain, wheat, beans, corn, and rice. They also eat plants that grow around lakes and bodies of water."

From Sheep101:

"Mostly sheep eat grass, clover, forbs, and other pasture plants. They especially love forbs. It is usually their first choice of food in a pasture. A forb is a broad-leaf plant other than grass. It is a flowering plant. Forbs are often very nutritious. As compared to cattle, sheep eat a greater variety of plants and select a more nutritious diet, but less so than goats."

Okay, we have belabored the point and we know that sheep are a long term plan, but what will the Habiturf seed be long term? Grasses.

So, now let's go look at our information on Habiturf.  First, follow this link to the Wildflower Center's website on HABITURF: A Multi-Species Mix for North, West and Central Texas.

So, there is your first problem, right there in the title. Montgomery County is deep in Southeast Texas, with totally different climate, rainfall and soils from North, Central and West Texas. Now, go down to the paragraph on sowing the seed:

"Sow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed broadcasters are great or by hand — and rake and press with a garden roller or your feet. Seeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best sowing time once soil temperatures warm up (day time temperatures constantly above 85F). Later in the growing season also works well but will require more water.Sow the seed — the small, hand-cranked seed broadcasters are great or by hand — and rake and press with a garden roller or your feet. Seeds need good soil contact. Spring is the best sowing time once soil temperatures warm up (day time temperatures constantly above 85F). Later in the growing season also works well but will require more water."

The seeds will be sitting right up there on top of the ground; easy pickiings and scratching for chickens. Whatever does manage to come up will be dessert for the rabbits.

You will also note that this grass will grow in up to 50% of sunlight a day. The wooded areas, including around the trees you are planning, will probably be too shady for this grass. Habiturf is an attempt to create lawn grass for hot, arid areas. What you need is probably a pasture grass, or to separate the spaces for animals and lawn by a very good fence.

 

 

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Plantings for beneath a red oak in Lubbock TX
February 23, 2012 - What would you recommend to plant in a two tiered raised bed facing west, totally blocked from the east, thus receiving only the afternoon sun? A 21 year old red oak sits in the middle of the upper ra...
view the full question and answer

When to harvest native grass seeds?
May 29, 2015 - We are trying to restore native grasses to a small pasture between Oak Hill and Dripping Springs. Last spring (2014), we seeded a mix of sideoats grama, little bluestem, dahl bluestem, and sprangleto...
view the full question and answer

Short to Medium Height Grasses for Iowa
January 20, 2011 - What short to medium height native grass can be planted in late fall at the same time I sow my wildflower seed?
view the full question and answer

Groundcover for Critical Area Buffer Zone in Maryland
October 06, 2014 - Help RE: Maryland Critical Area Buffer Zone. Is there a low or no- mow grass native to Maryland that can be used in a Critical Area Buffer Zone. The area is Sunny/Clay. Or can you recommend a grou...
view the full question and answer

Replacement for St. Augustine grass
July 29, 2009 - I live in Georgetown, TX. I have an acre lot with many large Live Oak Trees. Currently we have St Augustine grass growing, but with the drought, it's not working out well with rainbirds putting down ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.