Having your chickens free range in the garden SOUNDS lovely. They can eat weeds and obnoxious bugs, all while leaving fertilizer without any work on your part. However, in reality, chickens can quickly destroy a garden.
How can you have the best of both worlds? How can you get your garden to survive a chicken onslaught, but still get all the benefits of ranging your flock through?
There are two extremes here. One is that your flock goes wherever it likes, whenever it likes. The other is that your flock is penned up completely separate from your garden. Maybe you toss them the weeds and use their bedding in the compost bin. But that’s as close as they come to interacting.
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Here’s How To Have Chickens AND A Garden
However, there are quite a few strategies that you can use to help your chickens get some of that garden bug goodness, but without sacrificing your harvest.
One option is to create a perimeter fence for your birds around the garden. This means they will have ready access to any bugs that are passing through and they are fertilizing almost in place. Those nutrients will still be accessible to plants with large root systems.
Another option is to create a chicken tractor and rotate it through your garden beds. You can place it on plants that are spent for the season and let the chickens till and tidy up that space until you are ready to plant it again.
This could also work with a paddock system. Basically split your garden into four quadrants and have each section fenced off so your birds cannot escape. Tender seedlings and new plants can be started in one section while your chickens roam through another, more mature, selection of plants.
This year we are adding some very tall raised beds to our garden. These have worked great with the chickens. The chickens have been weeding around the base of the garden bed for us. However, because my birds are short bantams, and the beds are so tall, they haven’t discovered that they can hop up and make a mess.
If you aren’t into building and are interested in a customized garden bed, check out Olle Gardens. Their galvanized steel bottomless garden beds in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. They’re designed to last for up to 20 years, resist rust and harsh weather, and of course they’re safe for planting! If you decide they’re right for you, use the discount code KATHRYN for a 10% discount!
Do you let your birds into the garden? How do you keep your produce and seedlings safe? Share in the comments below!
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Thursday 6th of August 2020
My chickens are free range & do not bother most things in my garden. Though I learned i can not have strawberries! I pick all my tomatoes when they are just turning orange and ripen them in the window sill. Otherwise i think " that tomato will be perfect tomorrow" and the chickens have this amazing radar & they devour it before i have time to pick it.
Monday 10th of August 2020
Yes, mine will go after tomatoes too!
Monday 3rd of August 2020
How about chunnels. Chunnels are a hooped tunnel that you can hook together to make a run so that the chickens can go explore the places to give them. It would be like a long chicken tractor, plus it keeps your chickens safe from attacks from above.
Monday 3rd of August 2020
I've seen pictures of chunnels but never seen them used them in person. Knowing chickens, I see a high likelihood that they would kill all the vegetation in the chunnels and there would eventually be a build up of poop.