Keeping chickens in the garden is good for both the chickens and the garden, but you will need to plan your garden in relation to when, and where, the chickens will have access for the best results. For the chickens, being free to eat worms, grass and other foods they love and that are nutritious, makes for a healthier bird. For the garden, chickens help fertilize, til the soil, and remove pests. When put together so that both can get the optimum benefit from each other, you will have a healthy environment and good food as a result.

If you’re just starting out or have an area you want to change or improve, letting the chickens stay in that area for a bit can help clean it up, add fertilizer and break up the soil you have dug. How long you leave them in a spot will have to be determined by how many chickens you have and how large the area is. Never leave them for too long in one spot as it is not good for the hens. They will eat things they normally wouldn’t, even plants that are poisonous to them if they are hungry.

Whether you are allowing your hens to go anywhere in your backyard or only an area of it, you will need to plan where to plant your edible garden as chickens love chard, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, cabbage and kale, for example. You will want to protect your seedlings and young plants until they are large enough not to be bothered by your birds. Hens tend not to like violas, primrose, buttercups, tulips, daffodils, camellias, dahlias, hydrangeas, azaleas and most evergreen shrubs. They don’t tend to go after herbs such as mint, rosemary, or lemon balm. Neither will they bother other edibles like leeks, onions, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, squash or pumpkins. These are not all inclusive lists, rather just an idea of some plants and placement.

One reason to keep a patch of grass in your yard is that chickens love it, and they will happily eat that over something else you may not want them to. Just remember they are no different than we are in the fact that they have different likes and dislikes. These are general guidelines which your chickens may or may not fall in line with, but it does give you a starting point.

To protect the plants or areas that you do not want the chickens in, even temporarily, you can use portable fencing, low fencing using chicken wire, use a rough gravel or prickly, twiggy stick mulch around precious or fragile plants so the chickens won’t scratch there. You can also incorporate containers, hanging baskets and cloches to keep them out entirely. You will want to incorporate your chicken house plans with your over all plan for your yard.

Of course the larger the area you have where the chickens can roam free, the easier it is. If there is plenty of grassy area, (not necessarily lawn) your chickens will eat that, wild herbs and weeds for you while leaving their fertilizer and breaking up the soil. Make sure for your hens sake that there is an area of bare dirt for them to take a dust bath. This behavior helps them to clean their feathers and keep them parasite free.

Whether you’re raising chickens for eggs or meat, when chickens are free to roam and eat in an environment like this, they will be eating better nutritional foods, getting their proteins by eating your pests, and be healthier overall. This will help them to provide you will healthy eggs, and food from your garden. With proper care and planning, you will find that keeping chickens in the garden is not only beneficial to the hens and the garden, but your family as well.

For more information about how to keep chickens there is a very helpful and affordable ebook that can help you start eating eggs from your own backyard ASAP. Get info on Keeping Chickens in the Garden from a friend across the pond.

 

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