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Brighter Planet's 350 Challenge

An Interview with Bob Cannard


Green String Farm

Green String Farm

Bob Cannard, of Green String Farm, has farmed sustainably for 30 years. His father Bob Cannard Sr. was an avid advocate of backyard chickens, particularly in Sonoma, CA. We asked Bob Cannard how he would feed chickens locally. He provided the following chicken meal plan.


Free range

  • In your backyard, periodically rotate in your garden with fencing
  • With a bigger property they can free range on a rotational pasture
  • Fenced in backyard lawn – they will scratch it up a bit, but will keep it mowed
  • Orchards are a great place to let chickens run around
  • Good ground covers for chicken runs in the winter – crimson clover


  • For egg laying hens provide 60-70% greens
  • Too much greens isn’t good for growth or egg laying
  • The like greens that are soft, leafy and palatable
  • Some good greens – kale, swiss chard, beet tops, amaranth, not a lot but some comfrey
  • Kale is a source of protein
  • Avoid less sweet greens like mustard
  • Pick, chop up, drop in
  • Greens are great as long as the chickens are not de-beaked
  • Phytochemicals come from greens

Grow an old fashioned crop of corn

  • Source of protein
  • Flint or semi-flint type corn
  • Not hybrid or GMO
  • Good choice – Semi-Flint, Semi-Sweet Country Gentleman
  • Feed whole corn kernels – just shell off from cob
  • Corn dried on plant will keep for feeding later
  • For 20 chicken you would need 1/8 acre of corn

Alternate to Corn – Millet and Milo

  • Source of protein
  • Easier to grow than corn
  • Yield can be lower depending on how it grows on your property

All kitchen scraps

  • Everything from the kitchen including cheese and meat

Garden Waste

  • Weeds – a wheal barrow load each day for 20 chickens
  • Anything no longer edible for humans (but nothing rotten or moldy)
  • Melons, squash, etc.

Pumpkins in the winter

  • Source of protein
  • Grow pumpkins around the corn
  • Chop up the pumpkins and feed all winter long
  • Get full sized pumpkins, New England Pie or slightly bigger Howden
  • Need a couple dozen plants for 20 chickens / can get 20 tons of pumpkin from an acre

Any Squash

  • Source of protein
  • In the Winter: Winter Squash and Butternut Squash
  • In the Summer: Zucchini, which is high in protein

Other helpful information

  • You probably won’t be able to grow all the food you need for your chickens, but you can definitely grow most of it.
  • To feed a flock of 20 chickens once a day, it should take on average 10 minutes a day. This assumes some days longer and some days just a few minutes
  • Chickens are extremely efficient animals – converting 7lbs of feed to 1 lb of body.
  • General Sustainability: Keep the pin clean, conserve manure for compost and put back on the things you are growing for their food

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