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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.

 

 

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