Keeping backyard chickens is certainly not something that suits everyone.
But once you made the decision and got your first chooks
laying their fresh and delicious eggs there is no looking back!
Is Keeping Chickens In Your Garden For You?
With every animal or pet you keep comes the responsibility of looking after it. You have to ask yourself if you are up to the daily chores that are involved with keeping chickens. They need food and clean water every day, they have to be let out of their coops every morning....even on a Sunday!
Locking them up before it gets dark in their coop is essential if you want to make sure they are not going to be eaten by a fox or other predators at night.
Coops and henruns have to be kept clean and need at least a weekly clean out. What is taken out of there is, of course, great for your compost heap and then your garden.
Roosters can be quite noisy and are not always acceptable if you have nearby neighbors. In some areas, you are not even allowed to keep them...so check before you get one.
But if you want to keep only a few hens for the eggs it is not necessary to keep one. They will happily lay their eggs without one. The eggs just won't be fertile and can't be incubated.
Chickens can be great helpers in the garden if used wisely. They are great assistants when it comes to natural pest control.
The chooks are very busy all day scratching the ground looking for slugs, worms, and beetles. They consume seeds of weeds and scratch their little seedlings out of the ground. Of course, they leave little parcels of organic fertilizer behind wherever they go.
Putting the chickens to work in your garden can be of great benefit but they can also cause problems. Just let loose around the veggie garden they can cause damage to plants and seedlings if you are not careful. Chickens love for example beets and any type of brassicas. Our hens find them absolutely irresistible...so be careful!
Areas, where you don't want the chickens to go into can be fenced with a low temporary fence, made of bamboo canes and plastic mesh fencing. I prefer a plastic mesh to conventional chicken wire because it is a lot easier to work with.
Horticultural fleece, well pegged down around the edges, protects young seedlings and seed beds from our free-ranging chickens.
If you don't want to your chickens free-ranging in the garden you can use a chicken tractor or electric poultry netting and move them around different areas in the garden.
Vegetable beds that have been harvested can be cleaned and tilled by the chickens. They will get rid of the bugs, slugs, and weeds...automatic fertilization included! And voila....the bed will be ready for the next crop!
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Use Organic Slug Control methods to protect your plants. Get rid of garden slugs with natural ways like coffee ground, egg shells, predators or ducks.