If you already have chickens in the garden or are thinking about getting some, here are some points to consider.
Advantages of Chickens in the Garden
Chickens in the garden make wonderful tillers – By scratching and eating practically all vegetation, chickens make great tillers. Not only do they turn cover crops and clear new garden ground of any sod, they add chicken manure fertilizer directly to the garden soil as they till.
Chickens Create Compost – they are a great nitrogen source for a compost pile. Cleaning out the chicken coop will provide nutrient-rich manure and bedding material that you can compost to supplement the soil in your garden.
As automatic fertilizers – The chickens nitrogen levels in manure isn’t just great for compost, it’s the key ingredient to fertilizing our gardens. Based on the eight pounds one chicken will poop in a month, the average chicken will extract about a quarter pound a day!
Chickens Are Great Pest Control – Chickens eat large numbers of beetles, assorted bugs, slugs, grubs, and many other pests. Even a small flock of healthy chickens will serve as pest control to reduce the levels of detrimental insect pests. This variety in their diet also makes fresh eggs better
As mulch spreaders – Chickens can level a pile of leaves in under a day.
As garbage disposals – Instead of throwing all the table left overs into the trash feed it to your chickens. Chickens are omnivores, like us, and will eat practically everything we can and more!
As orchard sanitizers – One chicken can debug an entire fruit tree within an hour, breaking the life cycle of pests and disease. With some strategic timing, chickens can significantly boost orchard production!
Some Cautionary Advice
And now for some cautionary advice from Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture to stop the chickens destroying your whole garden.
Allow the chickens in the garden a half hour to an hour before they go to their coop. They’ll go in for a little bit and naturally leave around dusk to go home.
Supervised visits. If you have a small garden and/or small flock you could do supervised visits for short periods of times. That means you stand there and protect your goodies.
If you have a small garden, you could actually protect your individual plants with chicken wire or something similar. That way your chickens can have access all the time and would even help you with the weeds.
– Chickens want the garden bugs more than they want the garden produce. The key here, is only giving them enough time to get the bugs. If you leave them in too long they get all the bugs and start for the veggies.
– This is not something you have to do everyday. I’d say it’s better to do this weekly, or as needed.
-Young plants and young gardens are especially vulnerable to chickens. It’s also possible that the young plants haven’t yet attracted the bugs. Be extra careful when letting chickens near the young plants.
Haven’t got the space right now? If you live in the Chicago or Denver areas consider giving us a call for some free advice how we can help you make the required space. This could be by removing a swimming pool or by using our landscape design services.
With thanks to Jill Wagner and The Prairie Homestead