When most people think of keeping chickens, they think of having them in a coop and run. However, you can also keep your chickens in the garden!
There are several benefits to doing this, such as getting fresh eggs and composting chicken manure.
Here are some tips for keeping chickens in the garden, or even inside raised beds.
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Chickens are a common sight in many gardens, and for good reason. They are excellent at clearing away undergrowth and keeping pests at bay. However, chickens can also pose a few challenges for gardeners.
When chickens are in the garden, they will often eat freshly sown seeds from the soil. This behavior can be a problem if you’re trying to establish a new lawn or flower bed.
Chickens may pull up newly sprouted seedlings, create dust-baths that smother new vegetation, strip plants of their leaves and flowers, and eat newly set-on fruits.
In addition, their droppings can attract rodents and other unwanted visitors. There is a very short window of time that it would be appropriate to allow them to live inside a garden in many cases!
And let’s not forget about predators. If your chickens are allowed access to the garden – or in essence, are allowed to free range wherever they’d like – you need to make sure you have good predator control in place or you’re going to wind up with an even bigger problem on your hands!
Although chickens can pose some challenges in the garden, they also offer countless benefits. Here’s what you need to know.
Chickens offer a natural way to till the soil. As chickens scratch and peck at the ground, they help to break up compacted soil and aerate the earth.
This allows water and air to reach plant roots more easily, resulting in healthier plant growth.
Chickens are excellent additions to any garden, providing not only a source of fresh eggs but also a natural way to add nitrogen to the soil. As chickens scratch and peck at the ground in search of food, they help to aerate the soil and release nutrients that are otherwise locked away.
In addition, their droppings are high in nitrogen and other essential plant nutrients, making them an excellent fertilizer.
Chickens are one of the best animals for turning compost.
Their natural scratching and pecking habits loosen compacted material and help to aerate the pile, which speeds up the decomposition process. In addition, chickens produce nitrogen-rich manure that can be used to supplement the compost pile.
As the chickens scratch and turn the compost, they also mix in their manure, which helps to accelerate the decomposition process. As a result, incorporating chickens into your composting operation can be an effective way to speed up the production of nutrient-rich compost.
Chickens are excellent mulch spreaders. By scratching and clawing at the ground, they loosen compacted soil and help spread organic matter around. This provides a number of benefits for plants.
First, it helps aerate the soil, making it easier for roots to grow and access needed nutrients. Second, it helps improve drainage, preventing waterlogged conditions that can lead to plant stress and disease.
Third, it helps to insulate the ground, moderating temperature fluctuations that can damage delicate root systems.
Any gardener knows that one of the most tedious tasks is garden clean up duty. This is the job of removing dead leaves, weeds, and other debris from the garden. It can be time-consuming and back-breaking work.
However, there is a solution: chickens! Chickens love to eat weeds and bugs, and they will happily help clean up your garden for you.
In addition, their scratchy feet can help loosen compacted soil, making it easier for air and water to reach plant roots. As a result, having chickens around can save you a lot of time and effort
By scratching and pecking at the ground, chickens help to aerate the soil and control weeds. They also eat a variety of insects, including grubs and caterpillars, which can damage fruits and vegetables.
In addition, chickens also help to spread manure around the garden, providing essential nutrients for plants. As a result, chickens can play an important role in pest control in orchards, where other techniques may not be possible.
I’m thinking I’d really like to move the chickens to the other side of the property, far away from the garden.
They’re bad about escaping and digging up my plants. If we’re going to do this whole chickens in the raised bed thing, we’re going to do it my way!
Here are a few tips to make your dream of gardening with chickens a reality!
Chickens are wonderful for clearing weeds and bugs from garden beds, and their manure will be wonderful fertilizer for next year’s crop.
Plus, with a pesky fox after my chickens I need a way to keep them safe. I raided Jerry’s workshop (sorry hun!), and grabbed a rubber mallet, some long screws, the drill, and a loaded staple gun.
First, I hammered the stakes into each corner of one of the unused garden boxes, and screwed them in place.
Next, I stretched the chicken wire as tightly as I could around the stakes, and stapled it to the bottom of the box, and up and down each of the stakes.
I secured it this way all the way around except for one side, which I designated as the entrance. Here, instead of stapling it, I put a few screws up and down the corner post and simply stretched the wire over the screws to hold it in place.
This way I can easily pull the wire aside as I need to gain access to the chickens and feeders.
Once the sides were done, I stretched a piece over the top and stapled it to the top of each stake. I used twist ties (from sandwich bags) to secure the top wire to the wire along the sides.
Add a little shelter, and waterer, and the chickens were ready to play!
Now, to catch the little rascals… Good thing I had Jada to help me!
It wasn’t long after I had finished when it began to pour down rain. I mean, hard rain! Knowing that chickens will die if they are left out in a downpour without any shelter, I went to check on them to make sure they were okay.
Sure enough, the dumb things were huddled in a corner of the run getting completely drenched. I made my way inside with them, caught them both, and put them inside the little house I’d put in the run. Maybe they didn’t know what it was? Maybe it wasn’t big enough?
I looked around and found something bigger for them to get into (I myself getting completely soaked) and thoughtfully put the new, larger “house” in the run. They stayed under the shelter, and when I checked on them again after the storm had passed they were fine.
I’m wondering how long it will take them to scratch up all of the weeds and clean the bed out for me. Obviously, we wouldn’t leave them in there over the winter, just as long as the weather is nice.
Most of my garden beds are the same measurements, so when they are done with this one I’m thinking it won’t be that hard to move the run to the next box. If tomorrow is nice I might build another one for my other two chickens.
Forget manicures and hair salons… scrap materials make me happy.
But that’s just one option for how you can introduce chickens to the garden! Below are a few more.
By building chicken tractors on raised beds, you can provide your chickens with plenty of room to roam while still keeping them away from certain plants at certain times.
Raised beds are also a great way to protect your plants from heavy rains, which can wash away topsoil and damage delicate roots.
To build a chicken tractor, simply place a wire fence around a raised bed, leaving enough space for the chickens to walk underneath. Then, attach a roof or tarp to the fence to provide shelter from the sun and rain.
If you’d rather have your chickens live in the garden non-stop, year-round, that’s an option, too.
You’ll need to build them a place to live to give them some predator protection and remember – there are some disadvantages to keeping chickens in the garden full-time, namely that your crops will never have a rest.
Of course, if you need to give your plants a break, you can always lock them in the coop for a while – although that might not give them the activity they need.
You can also build a coop in the garden that you only move your chickens into at certain times of the year – for example, only during the late fall and winter, when your garden is fallow.
Whatever the case may be, here are some tips on how to build a chicken coop that’s just right for your garden:
- Start with a basic design. a simple A-frame or lean-to style coop is usually best for smaller gardens.
- Make sure the coop is well-ventilated, and has plenty of light. Chickens need fresh air and lots of daylight in order to stay healthy.
- Use strong, durable materials that will withstand the elements. Wire mesh is a good choice for the walls and ceiling, as it will keep out predators and allow air to circulate.
- Don’t forget about the floors! You’ll want to use a material that can be easily cleaned, like concrete or gravel.
- Include some furniture, like perches and nesting boxes, so your chickens will have a comfortable place to rest and lay their eggs.
One way to keep chickens from eating your crops is to put chicken wire around them.
Chicken wire is a type of fencing made from wire that is woven into a mesh. This mesh can be tight or loose, depending on the size of the chicken and the crop.
Chicken wire is also sometimes called poultry fencing or hexagonal netting. It can be made from a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, and plastic.
When it comes to preventing chickens from eating your crops, chicken wire can be an effective solution. The mesh will keep the chickens out while still allowing airflow and sunlight to reach the plants. Plus, it’s easy to install and remove when you need to access your crops.
One strategy is to “time zone” your garden, planting different crops in different areas at different times of the year. For example, you could plant delicate seedlings in an area that is fenced off from chickens.
Once the plants are more established, you can remove the fence and allow the chickens access to the rest of the garden. This technique can help to ensure that your plants have a chance to thrive, even in the presence of these curious creatures.
A chicken run is a great way to keep your chickens safe while still allowing them to enjoy the outdoors.
By creating a perimeter chicken run around your garden, you can let your chickens roam free without worrying about them damaging your plants.
To build a perimeter chicken run, simply erect a fence around the perimeter of your garden.
Make sure the fence is tall enough to deter predators, and be sure to include a gate so you can easily access the garden. You can then line the bottom of the fence with chicken wire to keep your chickens from digging under it.
One way to keep chickens out of certain areas of the garden is to build a livestock panel fence. Livestock panels are made of heavy-duty wire that is difficult for chickens to penetrate.
The panels can be placed directly on the ground or mounted on posts to create a sturdy barrier. Chickens will still be able to see and smell the tempting plants on the other side of the fence, but they won’t be able to get to them.
One way to get your poultry fix is to plant cover crops, such as rye and vetch, and then turn your flock loose to forage.
The chickens will eat the bugs and weeds, scratch up the soil, and deposit their nitrogen-rich droppings as they go. When it’s time to replant your garden, you’ll have well-fertilized soil – and a bunch of happy chickens.
To prevent your chickens from wrecking your carefully cultivated plants, you can create a chicken-friendly garden that is just for them. Start by selecting a location that is far away from your other plants.
Then, choose plants that are known to be tough and resistant to chicken damage. Finally, add some toys and other objects to keep your chickens entertained and distracted from your other garden.
Chickens can help with pest control in the garden and they provide a valuable source of fertilizer and eggs.
If you are considering keeping chickens in the garden, these tips above should help you do it in the best way – so you can keep both your plants and your flock healthy.
Chickens are a fun addition to any garden and they can help make your gardening experience even more enjoyable than it already is!
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.