Chicken friendly garden

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by pullum, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. pullum

    pullum Out Of The Brooder

    Would anyone know of any books on designing a chicken friendly garden? We have not long come out of a very dry Winter and there has been little rain so far this Spring -- Summer is not looking terribly good either. With a lack of rain, the grass has died with no sign of returning, particularly in the area where my chickens are kept. Aside from kitchen scraps, I've had to resort to feeding them a lot more seed. It may take some time, though I would really like to provide a sustainable garden with plenty of edible plants and herbs for the chickens.

    Book recommendations or general advice would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Judy

    Judy Moderator Staff Member

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    Sorry, I don't know of anthing like that.

    I have 9 hens in a 70' X 70' yard (about 25m X 25m) and they keep all the grasses eaten out of it. You need a very good sized area of good forage to sustain them with vegetation. If you let them in the area soon after planting, they just eat the young plants. I wish now I had set up two yards this size, to use alternately for a garden and for the chickens. This way the poop would all nourish the soil, and things would have a chance to grow up before they started eating. I was thinking more of gardening for people, and turning the chickens into the garden after harvest, to eat bugs, leftover veggies, etc. I do know that some people do this.
     
  3. pullum

    pullum Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks for your insight, I thought this might be the case. I have 7 chooks in an area about 50 square meters, which isn't a huge area in terms of sustaining vegetation, though certainly sufficient for them to scratch around. I had thought of laying turf down though this is probably just as problematic...
     
  4. StupidBird

    StupidBird Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Great topic.. I am hoping the helpers get the orchard aka chicken run cleared of the very tall, over my head weeds today. The stuff hens refused to eat. The orchard is divided roughly in half so I can shut them into one side while the other is seeded with a turnip, clover, winter annual rye mix. I let it grow up quite tall, about six or eight weeks, depending on the weather. Then I release the monsters on that side and it's destroyed in a week.

    I dream of having the veggie garden fenced. Then I can set the hens in sections during the winter or between crops summer.

    When I pick greens for the pot, I have a bucket for people and a bucket for hens (weeds, raggedy, very dirty etc.). The hens also enjoy messed up tomatoes, plantain, dock, dandelions....

    For about a dozen hens, a 5 gallon bucket of greens a day keeps the yolks bright through the winter. Two buckets is not too much either.

    The major issue I have is any moment of freedom and they go straight for my collards, kale, lettuce and trash it in less than five minutes. The will fly up and eat fruit off the semi dwarf fruit trees, so I have to keep them out of the section with plums and cherries when close to ripening. They eat everything.

    Fluffy bandits. Will get hand fed by the bucket and never free ranged.
     
  5. pullum

    pullum Out Of The Brooder

  6. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Free Range Chicken Gardens is a fabulous book!! -very helpful information!! -purchased this past spring, and it helped with ideas for our summer flower and veggie gardens. I recommend it!
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Mybackyardgirls

    Mybackyardgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Hi. I have been struggling with how to actually have veggie garden this year in two raised beds in an area that the chickens free-range. Last year the chickens were young and only were old enough to free range after the plants had started to mature. This winter they have free-ranged over the backyard (which is good), but have taken over the raised beds (not so good). I've been thinking that fencing off the raised beds with 7 foot high fencing would give me the garden I want and provide some treats for the chickens. I have two Easter Eggers who can fly up to 4-5 feet, but since the top of the fencing would be thin, I don't think they'll do it more than once or twice to try to balance on it.

    I'd be interested in pictures of how others have handled this. I don't want to limit the chickens roaming in the backyard since they are so used to it. No stressing the chickens!!!

    Also, I'd like to plant some lavender plants but any plant that has been planted has had the dirt dug down to the roots. Should I fence those in until they become large enough to withstand the digging?

    Thanks. Faye
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Faye, you are right, you'll either have to fence the chickens in, or out. How big are your beds? You can do the high fence, or you can do a tunnel over the top, like an inverted U. There is a type of PVC that is quite flexible, comes in 20' lengths, and you may be able to bend it into ribs that would fit the contours of your beds. Then you could cover it with standard fencing, or even use bird netting, and lift the netting off when you access your beds. You'd have to be sure it's secured well enough that your girls can't get tangled in it. You may find that a 4 - 5' tall fence will be enough to deter them, as they have the rest of your yard to play in.

    I have some lavender plants in an established bed, and they leave them alone. Perhaps you could plant them, then cover with a chicken wire cone for the first season. I also use a wire border fence that works well for areas of spot protection. It has wire that sticks down about 8" to push into the soil, and the wire border has rectangles that are about 3" x 6", and is not much more than a foot tall, but they don't try to get inside it. I'm sure if it was just edging a bed, they'd hop right over, but it works great for protecting a single plant.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Faye, you are right, you'll either have to fence the chickens in, or out. How big are your beds? You can do the high fence, or you can do a tunnel over the top, like an inverted U. There is a type of PVC that is quite flexible, comes in 20' lengths, and you may be able to bend it into ribs that would fit the contours of your beds. Then you could cover it with standard fencing, or even use bird netting, and lift the netting off when you access your beds. You'd have to be sure it's secured well enough that your girls can't get tangled in it. You may find that a 4 - 5' tall fence will be enough to deter them, as they have the rest of your yard to play in.

    I have some lavender plants in an established bed, and they leave them alone. Perhaps you could plant them, then cover with a chicken wire cone for the first season. I also use a wire border fence that works well for areas of spot protection. It has wire that sticks down about 8" to push into the soil, and the wire border has rectangles that are about 3" x 6", and is not much more than a foot tall, but they don't try to get inside it. I'm sure if it was just edging a bed, they'd hop right over, but it works great for protecting a single plant.

    Pullum: Can you do a deep litter mulch in your run? Some folks use the refuse from tree trimming companies. Other options might be fall leaves, grass clippings, stable litter, hay, straw... any thing that is high carbon, or a mix of high carbon and fresh green (grass clippings) would provide a great substrate for your run.
     
  10. Mybackyardgirls

    Mybackyardgirls Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you. Reassuring that I'm going on the right track. I'll check with garden supply or feed store for more info on what poles should be used to keep a wire fence in place. I'll post pics when I've finished it.

    I'm in CA and it's getting warm enough to start planting tomatoes. Costco is selling plants!!! I'm itching for spring planting.

    Good luck to you.

    Faye
     

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