This is for those of you who not only raise chickens but also keep a vegetable garden. I intend to simply share what I have learned over my time of keeping both. Most bloggers, internet resources and magazines always seem to say that I should go to great measures to keep my chickens out of my garden. Ok. I get it. I have experienced what chickens will do to a garden. However, raising a whole new batch of baby Buff Orpintons introduced for me a new set of guidelines that I found most useful. Baby chicks love insects. Duh! Because they are high in protein. I fed them bugs but I also fed them grass and garden vegetable scraps just like I did the grown birds. Well the baby Buff Orpingtons wanted nothing to do with the grass and vegetable scraps but the bugs they devoured. Again protein. Well this got me thinking. At the same time that I began this realization (around late July) I was also experiencing bug infestations in my vegetable garden. I had Squash bugs on my squash, cucumber beetles on my cucumbers, stink bugs, cutworms, tomato horn-worms, and ants in my garden. I even found black widow spiders in my garden. So what did I do? I released (9) two-week old Buff Orpington chicks into my garden to see what they could do. The result was positive. Bugs were eaten, poop was left (fertilizer). No vegetables were damaged. I have maintained this practice up until about 8-10 weeks. At that age the chicks are becoming pullets and cockerels - whatever - they still go after bugs but they also scratch the ground. In fact that will scratch enough to expose roots and even create small holes in the ground. This has not affected my vegetables at all. In fact it seems to act to aerate the ground and of course then they poop which gets fertilizer close to the ground. I have heard warning that chicken poop will "burn" plants from high nitrogen - no such experience here. In fact the end result of having young chicks pillage my garden has been very positive. So in a way I have made my Buff Orpington chicks a part of my own IPM program for my home garden and it has worked well for me. Buff Orpingtons are a dual purpose breed and like most people interested in a dual-purpose breed I do intent to reduce my flock by several members each year to feed my family. Well I also intend to find a "broody hen" to raise up my next generation of BO chicks during the hot months each year. This is the same time during which garden pests are a problem. This means that I could, very seriously, make baby chicks my insecticide of choice every year for my home garden. I am just curious if anyone else has tried this and what your success (or failure) stories are. ThankS!