KarenJButcher
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Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:16 pm
Location: Slidell, LA

Chickens ~ Organic Insect Control

Hello,

I don't know if any of you have chickens or let them free range but they are a "hoot" to have in the yard.

A year and a half ago three chickens were donated to our ministry ~ Sovereign Grace Homeland Missions in Slidell, LA. For the longest time we did not let them out of their cage, which is kind of small. It made caring for them difficult, so we started letting them wander around a little at a time. They do not have their wings clipped so the thought of them flying away home was concerning. Well, no worries there, as long as tortilla's are offered, they don't go far.

In fact, they stick pretty close to the buildings, wandering all around and even out front. I did not realize what they were up to till I read a great article about the benefits of having free range chickens. https://www.organicgardening.com/living/ ... A.facebook

Duh! They eat bugs! Since allowing our chickens to free range around the yard the problem with bugs getting inside our buildings has been greatly reduced, including those HUGE cockroaches (Palmetto Bugs) that seem to be everywhere down here. Reducing the rate of one of those flying at your head in the bathroom is very agreeable. :clap:

The same benefit is true, of course, for your garden. If you can get them to hang around your garden, still working on that. Herding chickens is a lot like... well... herding chickens... :roll:

So if you have ever considered getting chickens or have some but don't let them wander, you might want to consider it. They are pretty easy to keep and offer the benefit of fresh eggs every day. :)

Just thought you might like to know.

KarenJ nutz:

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Ozark Lady
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Location: NW Arkansas, USA zone 7A elevation 1561 feet

I have free range chickens, without them I would be housebound due to ticks!
Ticks are still an issue even with my feathery patrol.

But, they can only have free access to the garden when it is barren. When the garden is planted, they dig, they lay in it, they eat the plants, they even take a bite out of every tomato... not good! So, for the best of both, I make small cages to fit over each bed, and in this way keep chickens in the pathways to eat the bugs and not attack the garden beds.

I don't have that many chickens maybe 2 dozen? and they still would destroy the garden faster than I can plant it. Some plants are safe with them around once they grow larger and tougher, but many plants are never safe around chickens.
Talk to your plants.... If your plants talk to you... Run!

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Hens don't wander much so they do make great pets and they love slugs, bugs, lettuce seedlings and seeds.

There was a nice feral hen that used to wait by the gate everyday for the truck to come in and she laid an egg on the sidewalk everyday. Then one day she was gone. Somebody swiped her.

Roosters are another thing entirely. They crow at the moon at two in the morning. They gather a harem of hens and then they are on the move. Hens follow wherever the rooster goes. Unfertilized eggs never hatch, but when there is a rooster around, thirty chicks are not uncommon. The roosters fight and try to steal each others' hens.

One hen clucks when she sees you, and follows you around, but not that noisy. Thirty hens, rooster and chicks running around have a bigger impact. Lots more stuff being scratched up, seedlings have to be caged. Poop everywhere. Chickens don't fly far or that high, but they like to nest in trees and can jump or get under fences. They like to hide under plants and take dirt baths. They also smell like chickens. Soon, the neighbors will be complaining when they roam over to their yards and wake them up at night.

Now, for hens in the garden. Chickens should not be allowed in planted beds not only because they will eat the plants, but also because fresh chicken manure can carry disease pathogens like salmonella. Eating produce contaminated by raw manure could make you sick.

Chickens are an adjunct in permaculture gardens. They are placed in mobile cages called chicken tractors. They eat the bugs and poop to fertilize the ground under them. Later the tractor will be moved. The soil amended with additional compost or planted with a green manure and 120 days later, it is safe to eat the vegetables. The tractor also keeps the chickens relatively safe from predators like roaming dogs.

https://permaculturewest.org.au/resource ... ickens.pdf
https://gardenrant.com/2009/09/guest-wee ... sweet.html
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

KarenJButcher
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Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:16 pm
Location: Slidell, LA

I don't think we have a lot of ticks in this area, but there are other nasty bugs I have heard about, the slugs were horrible on my garden last year. And there is some sort of prickly caterpillar that hurts pretty bad when you step on it. I am hoping mostly that the chickens will help to alleviate the red ant problem in the yard. They were in our mound of compost last year and we ended up just taking out the good compost and abandoning it.

Yes, I know the chickens will eat the garden plants as well, our gardens are up high, some 3 feet off the ground, last year they didn't go near the gardens at all, but I wasn't letting them out as much.

I do not ever want a rooster! I have enough trouble keeping these hens from attacking me when I don't feed them on their schedule. imafan, sounds like you have a "chicken hoarding" problem. :wink: I wish I could take a few off your hands.

:lol: I can't imagine anyone ever being able to get close enough to snatch these hens and if they did they'd get their eyes pecked out for sure. Two of our girls are pretty nasty. And they run pretty fast when they don't want to be picked up.

We do have a hen house for them, it's a "tractor" type that can be moved, but it has no wheels so moving it is quite a chore. It was donated with the girls. I am really hoping to turn our garden shed into the chicken coop and get more chickens so we can share the eggs with our Pastor's family and some others in the congregation.

I don't have to do anything when it starts to get dark but go close their cage door to secure them for the night. They head back there and roost all on their own. They came to us because the owner's dog would attack the coop and we also have dogs that routinely keep them on their toes when it comes to running for protection, so I do not worry about them getting snatched by humans or hawks. :cool:

Thanks for the links, I'll check them out.

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Most of the chickens we had were feral at the botanical garden where I volunteered. People would drop off chickens at shopping centers, near wooded areas, parks and "wild areas".

There is a chicken farm about a mile up the road and some of the chickens look like hybrids. Most of them are jungle fowl and more than a few of the roosters were fighting cocks.

Fighting cocks are very gentle, they are used to being handled. If you pick them up they just let you and they like being carried. You could tell they belonged to someone because some of them were shaved and the leg spurs were cut. The hens will follow but will stay 10 ft away.

The workers fed a hen that they kept as a pet. One that was stolen and another that was a jungle fowl hen. We did not start having problems until the roosters were dropped off. Then they started roaming and multiplying and traps would be set out. People would release the hens and steal the traps. Other people came by everyday to feed them.

Chickens would jump up on the mist bench (waist high) and eat seedlings, so seedlings had to be caged.

Some of the neighbors complained about the two am crowing. More traps were set and most of the chickens were caught.

Now, that the chickens are gone there are more slugs and slug damage, but fewer surprises in the bushes.

:(
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

KarenJButcher
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Joined: Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:16 pm
Location: Slidell, LA

That is completely crazy, imafan! I have never heard of feral chickens before!

It seems kind of sad that they are all gone. We had a "cat problem" when we lived in Ohio, but at least chickens can have some benefit.

Gillybby
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Location: Canberra, Australia

Ahh, we used to have free range chickens growing up. Well, mostly free range, we'd lock them up at night for safety's sake, there's a lot of foxes around here. We didn't have a lot, only a small bunch, 4 hens and a rooster. Somehow our rooster never did anything silly. Funnily enough, we only ever bred one chick and he turned out to be a rooster, but both of them lived quite happily together, didn't even fight once.
A couple of times we'd left the front gate open and we'd wake up to chickens all through the front garden, but one bang on the bottom of the scrab bucket and they'd race over to the pen as fast as their legs would carry them.
Both my mother and I are in desperate want for more, the last one died of old age, but our next-door neighbour has a dog that's aquired the taste for chasing and killing chickens. So in order to keep some more safe, we'd have to keep them locked up 24/7, and we just couldn't do that to them :\

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LA47
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I haven't had chickens for at least 30 years but I did have them for over 5 years. I had a chicken house and 1 dozen hen +1 rooster. They had free range all summer and, I don't know why, but they never destroyed any garden plants with eating or dust baths. We did have a lot less bugs though. I don't think the average person even knew about patagens in the manure back then. In fact, I don't think I heard the word until the last 10 or 15 years or so. Does anyone else think that a lot of our health problems come from all the additives, sprays and preservatives that is used in the world today? What isn't contaminated?
High Altitude Gardener zone 4B or 5A

imafan26
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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

I think the reason we have so many fighting chickens loose is because people set them free. Some of them are set free because as my neighbor put it "he was too small to fight".

The feral chickens here breed fast and with roosters they are always travelling. One rooster averages three hens and can have as many as 30 chicks following them. One hen had a clutch 15 eggs, but 8 is much more common. Many of the chicks do not make it to adulthood. Many are predated on by cats and dogs.

It is actually easy to get a chicken for a pet. I asked at the chicken farm once because my mom was thinking of getting a hen as a pet. When the farm changes their chickens they sell them for $2. They are about three years old, but the guy at the farm said they can live to be 25 yrs old. My mom has dogs though, so she changed her mind.
Happy gardening in Hawaii. Gardens are where people grow.

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