ArceyJohnson
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Chickens in the Garden: Friend or Foe

Hi All,

I moved my chickens (there are 16 of them, give or take) up near the vegetable garden in the fall to help preemptively take care of some insects (symphs, I think) that I noticed while digging potatoes in the fall.

Now, as I'm planning for the spring, I'm wondering what the chickens will do to any seeds I plant. I have a feeling that my chicken herd is the reason I had such bad luck with corn germinating in the pasture last year...but they love eating corn, and may not be that interested in beet seeds, for example.

Has anyone had any experience? Will they be too busy in the fields to bother with carrot rows? Or will they ruin it with their scratching??

Any help would be so, so appreciated!!

AJ

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applestar
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I'll leave the real details to the experts, but the way I heard it, you don't want your chickens anywhere near your garden until the plants are big enough. I think you can have them help prep and scratch a garden bed BEFORE you plant. Otherwise, the chickens are better deployed to turn and de-bug your compost pile.

cynthia_h
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Look up posts by a member named Ozark Lady. She has chickens and other animals and gardens extensively. She puts...ah...chicken-wire cages over her raised beds and lets the chickens do their bug-eating free-range. They're wonderful for tick control, according to her experience, as well as for plant-destroying insects.

Cynthia H.
Sunset Zone 17, USDA Zone 9

DoubleDogFarm
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I would recommend a chicken tractor. Chickens love almost all leafy greens.

My brother harvest a 5ft tall comfrey plant and hangs it upside down in the chicken yard. They are like paranhas. A dozen chickens strip it in no time.

Eric

ArceyJohnson
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Location: Upstate NY

Thanks everyone!

I've decided to move the chickens down to the pasture and out of the garden by planting time. I think that if I keep them in the garden/orchard area from late October until April, they will be able to till in the manure and do some bug control and fertilizing without jeopardizing my crops.

Poor chickens. They have really grown to love scratching through all that dirt.

DoubleDogFarm
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You could always try the [url=https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=https://www.motherearthnews.com/uploadedImages/articles/issues/1988-05-01/111-109-01_01a.jpg&imgrefurl=https://www.motherearthnews.com/Sustainable-Farming/1988-05-01/Garden-Pest-Control.aspx&h=422&w=500&sz=51&tbnid=46IANVXLhPszpM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=107&zoom=1&docid=bSlGaA3I0F_31M&hl=en&sa=X&ei=F_02T6-DJqaLiALvrpDHCg&sqi=2&ved=0CC8Q9QEwAQ&dur=16]Chicken Moat[/url] plan.

Eric

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soil
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I find the chickens scratching to be far more destructive than what they will eat. That said all chickens will different and as a group will be different than say your neighbors chickens. Because I do know a few people who have free range chickens and a garden, and both do well. From my experiences it's not so great of an idea.
For all things come from earth, and all things end by becoming earth.

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GardenRN
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Chickens will eat any produce really (so show several youtube videos). That's why I won't be letting my new additions in the garden. But I think letting them in there before hand is a great idea! Give em lots of food so they poop real good in the garden too!
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

estorms
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Years ago, I read an article about a man who built his chicken coop behind the garden. He had a fence down the middle of the garden. There were two small doors in the back of the coop. He gardened on one side of the fence and used the other side for a chicken yard. When the garden was over for tthe year, he switched sides and let the chickens into the spent garden. He said it was only a matter of weeks before the chickens had scratched his garden into dust. The next year he gardened in the previous chicken yard. Chickens will scratch everywhere and prefer the softer soil in the garden. They will scratch out any small plants. I let my neighbors chickens in my garden in the spring when I am getting ready and in the fall when I am finished. When I have plants I want to keep, I close the gate.

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vebyrd36
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I let mine in when the plants are big. I typically use weeder geese instead of chickens tho.
Life is a journey through valleys and hills with many twist and turns, but always with sunshine and kindness at the end.

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fintuckyfarms
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That is way I like hydroponics, my system is about waist level and the chickens can't get to my veggies :D

ArceyJohnson
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They did do a fantastic job of working in all the horse and rabbit manure. They take it from noticeable turds to well turned and mixed in soil in about 15 minutes.

Just that plus having them close to the garden/orchard for bug control is enough of a reason to have them in that area from Nov.-Apr. every year, which is going to be my plan. For the growing season I'll move the coop down into the pasture and far far away from delicate seeds and seedlings.

I am also thinking of adding a few ducks to the orchard area as well. I like ducks, plus I am hoping they will fertilize not only the orchard ground, but also the pond water and I can eventually use that to water the garden. Hands free manure tea, or something like that.

ArceyJohnson
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Location: Upstate NY

Moat

I also meant to say that the Chicken Moat is simultaneously the most ridiculous and amazing garden idea that I've heard for a while. I love it.

panhandler
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I use a kind of shifting paddock system, as much as I can in a backyard. it works pretty well, but there are still alot of bare spots on the ground.

CynthiaCollado
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Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Biodynamic Gardening and chickens

I agree that chickens in your garden are not a good idea until your plants get a little bigger.

There are some very successful wineries that are turning the chickens loose with the grape vines. They are following biodynamic gardening methods with great success.

No chemical insecticides and the grapes are producing terrific wines.

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GardenRN
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I lied....I started letting the chickens in the garden wherever they want to be. The only thing I have had to chase them away from is where I just layed down fresh lettuce seeds. Otherwise they don't bother a thing. But so far I don't have actual fruit on the vine.
Jeff

USDA Zone 7a, Sunset Zone 32.

Failure is only a fact when you give up.

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