Chickens and Gardens?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by ceresone, Dec 30, 2005.

  1. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Just read the raised bed questions, so guess this is ok to post here. I'm starting all raised beds, neat paths-but this winter , my chickens are having a ball!! now, i know I wont have as many bugs this spring/summer-but what does everyone do with the chickens during garden time? have you found a way to have both free-range chickens-and a garden? does it work?
     
  2. fin29

    fin29 Well-Known Member

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    Nope. But you can run chicken tractors through the paths between your garden beds to keep weeds and bugs down. Also, when a bed is done producing, you can put a chicken tractor on top of it for a week or two, and the birds will clean it out and turn it under for you.
     

  3. Donna-6

    Donna-6 Well-Known Member

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    Chicken and gardens do NOT go! Chickens and flowers is a no-no too! They even ate my bananna trees ,kept them down to the grown. Finally had to put a Large jar on top of them then small fence around. I had some flowers hanging in baskets,those little critters would jump up and eat the flowers off Tell me something. What the heck is a chicken tractor. Never heard of that!!!!
     
  4. heidith

    heidith Well-Known Member

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    Surround your raised beds with fencing and a garden gate! I've got 10 raised beds with lovely paths between them; fruit bushes, flowers and herbs are scattered around and I grow most of our produce in them. I've also got 11 layers, 1 rooster and 4 Guineas and a need for fencing! My DH put up 4 foot deer fencing (since I'm homesteading in the woods and have more venison running around my backyard than I care to think about) which is UGLY and very effective. Deer, chickens and Guineas stay out, food stays in. We're going to expand the fenced in garden area by 4 more beds this spring. I can't wait. Each winter I say, We Have To Move! And then I just put more raised beds in, buy another chicken or two, think about sheep and we stay.
    Heidi in NY
     
  5. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My chickens live in the garden, but they're in a 10x10 pen. In the evenings when I am working in the garden I let them out to roam and eat bugs. Last year I didn't have a single incident with the chickens eating my veggies. They were to busy chasing bugs.
     
  6. mistletoad

    mistletoad Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Our chickens free range and they do less damage to the raised beds than we feared. We cover the beds with floating row covers which keeps the girls out, then by the time we have to remove the covers (for polination etc.) it is already too sunny for the girls to want to visit the field. We put chickenwire fences around the asparagus bed and the soft fruits. The herb garden by the back door is fenced and so are the "flower" beds nearer the house. If our raised beds weren't out in the field (the girls do not like the openess of it or the hawks that hang out there) we would have to use alot more fencing.
     
  7. tnborn

    tnborn Well-Known Member

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    Nope chickens and gardens do not mix. I have learned that the hard way. I even tried putting up a silt fence as a barrier. Oh that was a joke, they would just leap over the barrier or knock it down.
    I'm putting my chickens up when planting and until they reach a certain height. Chickens for some reason seem to loose interest in eating the plants and focus more on bugs :goodjob:
    tnborn
     
  8. suzyhomemaker09

    suzyhomemaker09 Well-Known Member

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    Now where was this thread last spring when I tried to plant a garden with free ranging birds ?
     
  9. To me it was the other way around. When I had my chickens they lost interest in trying to chase down the grasshoppers, etc. and figured the garden was a lot easier to catch. Every tomato would have been pecked on at least once, the greens eaten off to the ground, and every green bean was half eaten. So I don't know what kind of chickens Ravenlost raises, but it couldn't have been the same breed as mine.
     
  10. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

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    Last summer I waited patiently for the first ripe tomato. It turned a lovely orange, got darker and darker, and one day I looked out and it was a lovely red! I began to walk over, but a hen spotted it at the same time. I began to run...she ran faster! The two of us raced across the yard, both of us flailing our arms (or wings) about in an effort to fly. She beat me. Sniff.
     
  11. Tio Ed

    Tio Ed Active Member

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    A chicken tractor, aside from being a great name for a band, is a light cage with an open bottom that you put a hen or two in and then move it when they've scratched over the ground inside the tractor. If you're going to be working in the garden, put a couple of tractors out with a hen or two and then move it along every 15 or 20 minutes. I make mine out of 2x2 lumber and chicken wire, about 3'L x 4'W x 2'H. The chickens just scratch where you want 'em, your garden stays healthy and everyone's happy except the bugs.

    Regards,

    Tio Ed
    Austin, Texas
    El Rey de Sweat Equity
     
  12. Ravenlost

    Ravenlost Well-Known Member Supporter

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    LOL...I have a Rhode Island Red and Dominicks. They never pecked a tomato or ate a bean (but I have a dog who chews up sweet potato vines). It was funny, because when I threw bad tomatos in their pen they gobbled them up.
     
  13. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

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    I fenced off the entire garden with cheap wire to keep them out I bought from a guy that has a crew that work full time tearing down the TYSON chicken factory farms(sadly I think 5 go up for everone they tear down)Any way I just need to dig a trench around it now and put old tin down to keep the rabbits out and i will be set.I could shoot them but my wife and kids like watching them I must admit though when the racoons started eating my water melons(has anyone heard of such a thing?)I killed 5 in over two days.In the act with a shot gun.I LOVE water melon
     
  14. amwitched

    amwitched Well-Known Member

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    My chickens flattened 3 of my raised beds and ate every fat juicy worm that they could find in just a couple hours. I erected a fence around the entire garden before I let them out of their coop again.
     
  15. sullen

    sullen Question Answerer

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    I let my hens clean up my garden this year, but up until then I had a row of garden netting put up around it. If you don't they eat all the flowers before they go to fruit. Flowers are tasty, I guess.
     
  16. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My veg garden is under the hen/duck house right now. This spring we'll move the house and let it sit a few weeks before planting. My ducks and chickens have free access to the garden. Last year I had marigolds, tomatoes, green peppers and volunteer pumpkins in the garden. They did fine. You just have to plant plants that are big enough, or fence them in until they are.

    What I don't like is the chickens hunting for bugs in my flower beds. I have periennuals and they scratch around and move too much dirt. As the bushes and flowers get older, they can tolerate more abuse, but I have to be attentive to new plants.
     
  17. mountainman_bc

    mountainman_bc Well-Known Member

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    Chicken tractors seem to be popular, I don't like the idea of it. They are still in a cage and you have to keep moving it around. I like my birds free!
    My chickens have about 1/2-1 acre of pasture between them and the veggies. They rarely got into the veggies because of this as there was SO MUCH grass to eat on the way. If they went into the veggies they ate (as far as I know!) windfall tomatoes and bugs.
    Keep your birds well fed.
    I put 1.5-2' garden fencing around my favourite plants right beside their house and never had trouble with them going over that either.
     
  18. Pat

    Pat Well-Known Member

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    We free range also. We had problems with getting the seed in the ground, and for the first set of true leaves then basically they left it alone (other than they were in the garden 2 - 3 times a day bugging!). It was true about the tomatoes but only for the first couple, then they left them alone.

    We didn't have any bug problems, so this year I'm going to keep them in the coop until I get the 2nd set of true leaves and then allow them to free range again. Can't beat them for keeping the bugs down in the garden!

    Pat
     
  19. Nax

    Nax Well-Known Member

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    I didn't have much of a problem last summer with about 33 ranging chickens. I would turn them loose in the afternoons when they were done laying, and only occasionaly have to chase them out of the garden.

    I have about 6 acres of mowed lawn and hayfield, and they didn't seem all that interested in the garden (a little over an acre). They seemed more intent on manuring my front porch!

    This year I'm going to try some cheap deer netting and conduit (as I'll have 60+ ranging this summer). Eventually I'm just going to have to build a real fence. I've been lucky so far with deer and rabbit (knock wood), which would be a real disaster for me.
     
  20. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    this all sounds great--but--dont your chickens fly? what kind of a fence will keep them from the garden? seems a 18-24" wire they would just hop over. I have about 75 mixed breeds, and while i do like the fact they're eating any over-wintering bugs in the well-mulched garden, i worry they're getting used to being there-and will fly over most fences.