Chickens in the Garden: What You Need to Know

  • jack Officer
  • May 23, 2023

I’ve lived on a farm or homestead for 32 of my 39 years of life. Throughout most of these years, we tended to giant gardens and saved a sizeable flock of poultry.

Even now, I’ve a flock of fifty or extra, and my backyard plots appear to multiply each rising season.

Each few years or so, I’ll see an article in {a magazine}, glamorizing the “chicken-friendly backyard.” It is going to embrace idyllic images of small pink Bantams plucking beetles from a brand new squash vine.

There shall be speak of how easy it’s to skip the intermediary and permit the birds to fertilize the backyard instantly.

A small flock of white feathered chickens graze among mature rows of corn in veggie patch.

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The reality about why I homestead has pressured me to be reasonable in regards to the info about chickens and my harvest.

Even the pins on Pinterest make it sound so lovely.

Certainly, I should be doing one thing fallacious in retaining chickens and backyard separate?

I like my little hens. They’re fantastic and inquisitive creatures, and their eggs make me so completely satisfied! My primary purpose in gardening, nonetheless, is to not provide them a spot to hang around. It’s to feed my household.

The reality about why I homestead has pressured me to be reasonable in regards to the info about chickens and my harvest.

Whereas they will coexist, there are some deliberate (and infrequently labor-intensive) steps that you simply’ll have to take to maintain each birds and growers completely satisfied! These embrace setting correct boundaries and implementing safer methods to combine the worlds of fowl and flora.

Chickens Are Egocentric

In my a few years of making an attempt to offer the birds small, fastidiously monitored roles within the backyard ecosystem, I’ve discovered a number of issues.

Chickens in the garden can make quite a mess; do you really want them there? | Gardener's Path

Crucial of those is that these creatures need what they need and are very, very harmful to vegetation and their fruits. A few of their trademark behaviors embrace:

  1. Consuming freshly sown seeds from the soil.
  2. Pulling up newly sprouted seedlings.
  3. Making a “dust-bath” within the newly tilled soil and smothering any vegetation rising there.
  4. Stripping sure vegetation of their leaves and flowers.
  5. Consuming newly set-on fruits.

There’s a very quick window of time that might be applicable to permit them to reside inside a backyard.

That point is after the vegetation have grown to a measurement that they gained’t be simply mowed down by hungry, broody, or molting hens. However they can’t be within the backyard as soon as fruit units on, both.

This implies there are only some weeks after they would have the ability to peacefully coexist together with your backyard vegetation with out a lot hurt.

Birds in Their Time Zones

So, how does a discerning gardener decide when to place hens within the backyard?

Unless you want chickens eating all your tomatoes, you might not want to put the birds in your garden | Gardener's Path

Most backyard vegetation don’t all produce on the identical time. What would be the good event to supply just a little pest management for the squash is ill-timed for the tiny, tender inexperienced tomatoes that might simply be setting on late in July.

Subsequently, chickens work greatest when assigned to a portion of a correctly zoned backyard.

“Time Zone Gardening” (as I’ve dubbed it) places vegetation that produce at across the identical time collectively. This makes it straightforward to dam off the peppers and tomatoes from the late-producing winter squash.

Chickens can rotate by the zones on the applicable occasions, inflicting insignificant injury from their overzealous grazing or scratching.

Straightforward and Inexpensive Fencing

You can provide your backyard the absolute best probability of survival by dividing your zones with deer or rabbit fencing.

Contrary to popular belief, it's not always a chickens in the garden. Learn more from our expert:

Materials that’s two ft in top, stretched out and secured with small posts, ought to hold birds put.

Only a few will consider crawling beneath, however you may all the time use small tent pins or an analogous stake-type fastener to safe the fencing to the bottom soil.

This brings us to easy methods to hold birds of their place. I’m not going to lie and inform you that chickens do what they’re presupposed to do. Ever.
I’m not going to lie and inform you that chickens do what they’re presupposed to do. Ever.

If you happen to enable your birds to go pure (i.e. no wing clipping or different modifications), they will – and can – study to fly as excessive as their little wings will take them. Which means even the best-constructed backyard fencing can finally fail.

That’s the reason I’ve additionally taken to permitting solely the smaller, much less skilled birds round my backyard.

Tiny bantams who do not know that there’s life outdoors the netting are perfect for this kind of surroundings. The broody, five-year-old Black Australorp hen with concepts in regards to the world just isn’t.

Select the appropriate rooster, and also you’ll have far fewer unhealthy behaviors to take care of!

Perimeter Obligation for Hens

If you’re in love with the concept of getting your chickens work the backyard, and you might be past annoyed with attempting to maintain them sorted out, perimeter work could also be for you.

Constructing a rooster run alongside the surface partitions of your backyard is healthier than nothing. Chickens could make fairly a distinction in retaining grasshopper and slug populations down by solely working the surface edges.

I’ve carried out this with simply three sides of my backyard most years. The fourth facet is the place I prefer to let my vegetation “do their factor.”

Overzealous pumpkin vines are redirected to this fourth wall, or I’ll enable an heirloom cucumber to make its residence right here. Backyard fences are prime actual property for a lot of of my experiments, so I’m not keen to offer all of them as much as the chickens!

Raised Beds, Lowered Chickens

Lastly, in the event you’re on the lookout for a neater option to let poultry have their enjoyable and do some pest-control work whereas they’re at it, put them round your raised beds.

As soon as my greens are absolutely established, the chickens don’t need a lot to do with them. They are going to, nonetheless, scurry across the base of the raised beds, reaching as much as snag a slug or dangerous grub straight out of the dust.

Once more, that is in all probability greatest for the better-behaved, smaller hens. If at any level they discover the greens to be tasty sufficient to succeed in for, they get put again into perimeter obligation. The sort of gardening solely works with very clear boundaries!

Issues to Look For

There’ll all the time be exceptions to greatest practices.

Consult our expert to learn if it's a good ideas to keep chickens in the garden | Gardener's Path

Chickens appear made to stretch your expectations and problem the everyday gardener. That’s why you ought to be looking out for the next troublemakers who can be higher off free ranging within the discipline than contained in the fence together with your vegetation:

Broody Hens

These gals will discover a place to nest (normally someplace within the wild mass of overgrown tomatoes) and refuse to go away.

Do your greatest to maintain broody hens close to their common laying bins. I’ve had seasons the place there have been extra eggs than eggplants in my backyard!


If you happen to hold roosters, you understand that they’ve a objective. However in addition they trigger hens to combat and distract from the job of pest management.

Gardening is an all-girls exercise for the chickens on our farm.

Hen and Chick Units

Except you need to hear hours and hours of distressed calls between mom hen and child, go away the little ones out of the backyard. They have an inclination to get tripped up and misplaced within the maze of vegetation.

Chicks are best left out of the garden, says our expert | Gardener's Path

Chicks are higher off in a safer and fewer overgrown surroundings.

A Pure Partnership for Your Backyard

I’ve but to resolve if we are going to take care of the effort of placing fowl within the gardens this yr.

Learn from our expert as to whether it's a good idea to have chickens in the garden | Gardener's Path

On the very least, it’s straightforward sufficient to permit them to free-range in my giant watermelon and squash patch within the weeks earlier than the fruit units on, the place there isn’t a fencing or different infrastructure to take care of.

Even in the event you resolve to maintain your feathered pals out, there are methods to maintain the symbiotic relationship alive – even in a surrogate method.

Weeds and rotted fruits ought to get tossed to your hens day by day. Hen manure might be put into compost the place it is going to be was a safer, much less nitrogen-rich model than when delivered “in particular person.” Even eggs shells might be floor down right into a high-quality soil additive for good plant root well being!

Chickens and the backyard are pure companions for a extra wholesome, environment friendly system. How you place them collectively, nonetheless, is a really private selection.

Will you be placing birds inside your backyard fence this yr? What tales are you able to share about rooster environments gone fallacious? Inform us within the feedback! And don’t overlook to take a look at our article on rising greens for wholesome and completely satisfied chickens.

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