The Benefits of Keeping Chickens in Your Garden
Gardening with chickens, yes it is possible. Everyone knows that chickens are great for providing us with eggs and making delicious dishes, but did you know that keeping chickens in your garden is actually good for it?
Yes, chickens are not only practical and fun to have around, but they can also help you keep your garden healthy! Let’s explore how gardening with chickens can benefit you.
Natural Pest Control
Chickens are a natural form of pest control because they love to eat bugs and grubs.
If you let them free-range in your garden, they will happily snack on all sorts of insects that would otherwise wreak havoc on your plants. (chickens can also wreak havoc on the plants so be sure and let them free range judiciously)
If it is on the ground and moving chickens will try to eat it. Bugs don’t stand a chance.
Not only will this help protect your plants from bug damage, but it is also an environmentally friendly way to get rid of pests without having to resort to chemical treatments.
They scratch at the soil eating the grubs, ants, slugs, and other pesky critters.
Now for me, I like to let my chickens free range more in the Fall. Most of my veggies and plants are large enough that the chickens digging and scratching in the garden does little very damage to the plants.
Even if they chickens decide to nibble on any plants (and they will) the plants are at a stage they can handle it as opposed to when they are just tiny seedlings.
All the best tips
What you need to know about raising chickens in your backyard. Things to think about before you dive into the chicken-keeping realm!
Another time I will allow my chickens out in the garden for a free for all free range is in late winter before I put anything or have anything coming up. When we have little snow, that is.
Fertilizer for Your Soil
Another great benefit of keeping chickens in your garden is that their droppings make great fertilizer for your soil.
Chicken manure is rich in nitrogen which helps promote healthy plant growth and nourishes the soil with beneficial microorganisms.
This makes it a great option for organic gardening as well as sustainable farming practices. They will leave lovely little droppings here and there as they free range.
But you will also have the litter from their pen and chicken house to use. Just be sure to compost the manure correctly; too much nitrogen can lead to burnt plants.
(one caveat to that, I use the chicken litter straight on my garden beds in the late Fall as things are going dormant, the excess nitrogen leaches out over winter as the rain and snow fall and the plants are not uptaking any nutrients. Do this with caution)
All the best tips
Easy DIY Compost Bin
Build a DIY compost bin quickly, easily and inexpensively. This beautiful compost bin is built from cedar fence boards and cheap 2 x 2s. Simple design anyone can put together in a couple of hours.
Chickens scratching and digging in the garden can be destructive but if you utilize them correctly they can actually reduce your labor.
I grow many things in raised beds and in the winter I oversow them beds with cover crops. In Spring I weed whack the cover crop down to near ground level and let it fall onto the soil.
Though it takes some effort to create a fence around this area I have a portable setup I use that is easy enough.
I lead my chickens into it, lock them in so they stay there and let them scratch, peck, and poop on the beds during the day then let them back into their hen house at night.
They till in the cover crop and help it to break down, they get a nutritious snack and I have less labor.
Another way I take advantage of having chickens is I make one of my DIY composters in their pen. I fill it with garden debris and kitchen scraps and add some of the litter from their pen and hen house.
Being curious creatures, the chickens hop up into the bin and scratch around, effectively doing some turning.
I also will remove one side of the bin and let them scratch and peck at it helping everything break down easier. Then I put the side back on, rake up what they have managed to spread out a bit, and put it back.
It is all a win, win for everybody.
Keeping chickens and gardening go hand in hand and benefit each other. It takes some effort but the payoff is tremendous.
You get an environmentally friendly way to get rid of pests and you have access to fresh farm-raised food whenever needed.
Plus, who doesn’t love spending time with these fluffy feathered friends? So why not give it a go? You might just find yourself hooked!