Responsibility shifts to that of the intervener. Out of the many different design principles that I have read or been taught over the years, this is the one that resonates most with me.
The idea that if you intervene in a system, you are ultimately responsible for the health and vitality of that system until you can nurture it to a point where that responsibility back to nature.
This is one of the underlying design principles that drive my design process from strategies to tools and techniques.
Chickens are fundamentally an essential part of many people's permaculture systems. They provide a vast number of yields and support a varied number of ecosystem services.
To my understanding, there are no wild chickens left in the world (pleased to be shown to be wrong if anyone knows of anywhere). So it becomes even more critical that we design to their needs. If we look after our animals, chickens included, and give them our best, then they will in return give us their best.
While they are omnivores and require a varied diet, including some grain and seed and green pick, another aspect we need to consider is the chicken's health. It is easy to jump to the idea that we can just purchase what we need to support their health. Still, with a bit of thought, we can set up biological solutions to carry that load for us – Thus, the Chook Apothecary.
Apothecaries were famous between medieval times till the end of the 19th century. In medieval times, if you needed medicine, you had three choices:
Go to the local monastery and hope that they had a physic garden where they were growing medicinal herbs.
So, with this in mind looking at and building a polyculture of plants that can support the health of our chickens is critical. Planting these plants in a fashion that allows the chickens access without destroying the plant (typically planted just on the outside of the fence line)
There are so many different choices of plants available that it can be daunting as to which ones to choose.
One of the processes we use in permaculture is a Niche Analysis. A research process to help filter the different benefits and disadvantages of a plant or animal to determine its suitability for our systems and management.
Using these tools available to us and spending a bit of time in research (80% research, 20% implementation is a good ratio – if you are going to get it wrong, far cheaper to do it on paper first)
After doing a niches analysis and exploring the space I have available, below is the list that was ultimately used and will add to the existing.
We hope that you might find this helpful list for your own systems. To build your own biological self-replicating chook apothecary.
We have attached a free downloadable PDF at the bottom for your convenience.