By Shannon Cole of Country Girl In The Village
It is that time of year, the Harvest has begun in earnest. Our tomatoes are slow to ripen, but other things in the garden as well as our local Farm Market are flourishing. The pretty flowers of summer fade all too soon. This is the time of year, when I begin to “put up” for the winter.
Canning, Freezing, Preserving doesn’t have to be just for your family. If we are what we eat, than I want the diet of my laying hens to be the best that it can be. Yes, in the Winter season the Ladies can get by with a simple layer feed, but I want more for them and more from the eggs that I collect and serve my family.
One of my Hens’ favorite snacks are grass clippings. Grass? I can hear you asking yourselves now… Is she really going to preserve grass? You bet I am. But not just grass, the weeds too. Dandelion, Clover… all those things that some people pay to have wiped out of their yards are full of vitamins. These are the things that your Chickens will look for when the snows melt and things start to grow again. Taking a que from my Ladies, I decided to try freezing these bits so that in the middle of a Michigan winter, they can have access to some of their favorite treats. This gives them something extra to eat with their layer feed and also helps their eggs maintain that beautiful yolk color.
To freeze these goodies, I go with an unblanched method. This is a fast method for freezing that helps maintain color and texture for the greens.
Step 1. Wash your greens and dry well.
Step 2. Place your greens in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
*Note- Try to make this layer not too thick so that it can freeze fast.
Step 3. Place cookie sheet into the freezer.
Step 4. Once everything has frozen, then place greens into freezer bags. Take care to expel as much air as possible.
This method of freezing has kept the grasses, leaves and flowers with a bright color and good texture for up to 6 months. They may keep longer, but by then my Hens have eaten through my stores and hopefully the snows of winter have begun to recede. To serve, just set out to thaw. It is relatively quick to thaw because of the thin size of the greens. I like to put this in suet feeder baskets and let it hang or add it to the run floor for them to scratch in.
My These Taste Testers quickly gobbled up the dandelion and clover and moved through the grass clippings next.
The next post in this series will involve preserving corn and cobs for your chickens.
After raising chickens and everything else with feathers I,would have never thought of this.When I get back to having chickens again I will definetly do this.I was always looking to give them treats anyway.Thanks.
What a great idea !! I’m going to try this for my geese this year !! Thank you !
This sounds like a wonderful idea for getting greens into the chickens that live in Wisconsin. My only question is, why wash them before you freeze them. We do not spray our lawn at all so wouldn’t it be beneficial to get everything the grass, etc has to offer?
I’d appreciate your input.
Have you ever tried hydroponic greens for winter ? I’ve been looking at the systems that FarmTek offers.
That’s sounds like a neat trick to try.
we live in Northern Ontario Canada, where our winters are long & cold (7 months).
We purchased 1 doz Barred Plymouth rock chickens this spring, and they should be laying by Aug/Sept.
So going to try this to supplement their diet this winter.
I’m fortunate because I’m an outdoorsman, and own a vacuum sealer for fish & wildgame, so will try to store them this way.
Kudos to you for sharing this great idea!
REALLY great idea! And I’d love to know about the GMO in store bought corn as I do give my girls the cobs. Great site this is!!!!!!
Fabulous idea! Thank you!
In your next post about the corn & cobs, will you add your opinion on using corn from the market that may be GMO’ed. Do you think there is enough of the Roundup that has been added to the seed corn to affect the chickens/eggs. Some say there isn’t enough to hurt people, others say it is very dangerous. Thanks!