What is Permaculture in My Chicken Farming
Permaculture is a system of agricultural and social design principles centered on simulating or directly utilizing the patterns and features observed in natural ecosystems.
I strongly believe in the concept of permaculture in relation with both recycling and organic farming. The first Chicken coop I started with was a shed / rice storage building that was slowly falling apart. I strengthened the walls/support posts/roof then I began putting up chicken wire.
When the structure was about 90% complete I realized that there was too much tin on the walls and roof. That would make it too hot for my hens to be comfortable. So I opened it up more with extra wire mesh and I added some grass roof panels wall panels to offer a bit more cool shade for the girls.
Recycled for Sure but is it Permaculture?
You can’t see it from this angle, but 20 meters behind my chicken house is a small rice mill that produces loads of rice hulls. I get them by the bag full and I spread them onto the dirt floor of the chicken enclosure. My 20 hens then naturally provide plenty of nitrogen and organic nutrients to the mix in the form of urine and manure.
After the rice hulls have spent enough time on the floor of the hen house, it’s time to transfer the heady mixture over to my compost bin – and yes – it’s also made from 95% recycled or scrounged materials. Only the screws were new.
Along with the chicken manure saturated rice hulls, I add layers of plain old dirt and whatever leaves, yard and kitchen wastes as I can. Then the mixture sits and I turn it every 2-3 months. Since I’ve now added a second chicken house, I suppose I really need to build another compost bin too.
Composting Hen House Wastes but a Complete Permaculture Cycle?
As I interpret the concept of permaculture, it has to involve a complete cycle. And mine does that. Along the side of Chicken Coop number 2, I have a small garden patch. I grow Elephant Grass and I’ve planted Moringa Trees as well. I dry the leaves of both and then put them in a blender to supplement my chicken’s other food. And of course the finished product from the compost bin goes to fertilizing the chicken’s feed plants.
Of course we also put milled rice into the chicken’s diet so that completes the rice hulls loop too. We have a yearly rice crop but we don’t (or haven’t) fertilized that from the small compost. I’m planning a larger compost for the rice field.
Chicken house number two doesn’t have quite as much recycled material. The chicken mesh is new as is most of the framing materials. The tin footing is recycled and so are the main supports. You can also see some blue roof tiles that Ive got for drainage and to keep animals from digging under the wall. I also have some nice playground equipment made of recycled bicycle tires and hefty branches.
My overall permaculture objective is to grow some other crops in our fairly large garden area too like beans, to completely eliminate the need for buying any chicken food at all – but I’m not there yet.
I mentioned Moringa and to end this post I’ll come back to that. I definitely have and want a permaculture circle with Moringa. I’m more than happy with the symbiotic relationship between the Moringa and my chickens. Moringa leaves are VERY rich in nutrients and they especially have lots of calcium that give our eggs a strong healthy shell.
And to make sure the Moringa has the calcium to grow I crush egg shells and put them into the Moringa’s planter ring’s soil. I also regularly add some compost so the Moringa can grow quickly but in fact the Moringa would still grow well even in poor soil. That hardiness really does make Moringa a miracle plant to end starvation. And the amazing list of nutrients the Drumstick Tree contains make makes it very capable of ending malnutrition as well. But we’re talking here about permaculture and not nutrition.
I think my next permaculture project will either be a chicken tractor or maybe I’ll build another chicken coop but over a fish pond. I have to explore both of those ideas more before undertaking one of the projects. I’ll certainly report back yo you here.