Chicken proofing the garden

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by The Chickeneer, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. The Chickeneer

    The Chickeneer ~A Morning's Crow~

    Im planing on having another garden this year, but I want to do it in a way that the chickens can free range in it whenever they like without completely destroying it. In the past years, they did a really great job at keeping it free of bugs and weeds, but as we all know, they ate some plants too. Im thinking of doing a raised garden this year, having it fully accessible to the chickens, but i don't want them doing any enormous damage.

    What things do you guys do to keep your plants in the garden "chicken proof?" Does it make a difference to make it on a raised bed vs the ground? I've heard it is better to have a lot of plants so the chickens attentions are spread out instead of them all focusing on just a few plants. Im going to try putting cages on all of the plants to see if that helps. And how would you keep them from eating squash or cucumber flowers? Thanks
  2. FirewifeJess

    FirewifeJess Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2012
    Can't help much but didn't want to read and run. I would like to do similar to you when we finally get a garden started, so I bought this book called Free Range Chicken Gardens. You can find it on Amazon. It seems to have a lot of good info and ideas, although I haven't put any into practice to see if they're practical or not. HTH!
  3. ladytoysdream

    ladytoysdream Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2010
    New York
    Our garden is next to our chicken yard set up. Last year I said to hubby either the chickens don't go out to free range
    and I have a nice garden. OR...the garden gets a good fence so the chickens can free range in the afternoons, and early evening.
    The garden got fenced in. He used T posts and we ziplocked the fence
    around them. I had some rolls of fencing left over I used for building cages in years past. End of season, he takes it all apart so he can rototill the ground back up.Only thing the chickens played with was the winter squash vines that went up over the fence and ran down the outside edges. Looked like a grape vine cascade, is all I could think.
    Chickens are like mini bulldozers. They love scratching in the garden,
    taking a dust bath, and grazing on plants, a bite here and there. Not good. End of season, the chickens got to play in the garden.
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2013
  4. The Chickeneer

    The Chickeneer ~A Morning's Crow~

    Thanks. And what about guineas and ducks, they free range with my chickens. Is there any damage that they do? or are chickens the main criminals in this situation.....

    Im going to try to see if i can grow a larger amount of plants this year, so the chickens wont be able to destroy them all, and the bit of surplus vegetables we dont eat will just go back to the chickens.
  5. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    Unsure about guineas, but I think I would rather take my chances with chickens in my garden over ducks. My ducks are so destructive - uprooting, burrowing, and generally make a huge mess of everything.
  6. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    In my experience, you just can't have your cake and eat it too. They'll just destroy everything if I let them in there when things are growing. So my gardens are fenced off.
  7. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    I second the recommendation of Free Range Chicken Gardens. -great read with suggestions on having flower/vegetable gardens in conjunction with chickens. I've found that potting herbs around the areas where vegetables are grown deters (my) chickens. They do not bother the herbs, and tend to stay out of the garden. Also, hedges or massed perennials as a border helps. (We have a large run, complete with dustbathing area, where the chickens stay a good bit of the time.) They roam the lawn three to four times per day (supervised due to hawks) for between 30 - 45 minutes each time. This limited "free-ranging" also helps eliminate excessive digging which seems more destructive than actual foraging.
  8. The Chickeneer

    The Chickeneer ~A Morning's Crow~

    So would it be better if I kept them out when the plants are small and growing, then let them in once they are big and tall? They really helped a lot with the pests and weeds in the garden last year, they did a lot of my work, but i have way more chickens now, so im not sure as to how bad it would affect the garden. Once i get the garden planted im going to try the "limited free ranging" for a while to see how they do.

    Also another question, will putting wire over the entire bed, then cutting holes in it for the plants to grow through keep the chickens from scratching everything up? Or is it better for the plants if the soil gets mixed and aerated by the chickens?

    Thanks everybody you guys have great advice.
  9. Spikes Chooks

    Spikes Chooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 10, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    In our garden beds (not the vegetable patch) I've had some success in putting black plastic bird netting over the ground and pinning it in with wire hooks, so I can take the netting up and weed when necessary. It does stop them scratching big holes right next to plants which can then get covered and damaged by the mulch and soil they are throwing around. However, if there are groundcovers they use their weight to stand on the netting, until they can reach the groundcovers, so these areas need a frame to raise the netting up high enough from the ground that they can't get through the netting using their body weight.

    Some larger plants I found they just loved so much - especially the flowers. Some of these I have enclosed in a circle of plastic netting, pinned down into the soil with wire, and tied with wire twisties so I can get in to weed. Like a large collar.

    They are determined little things and can do an amazing amount of damage in a short time. I've had most trouble with their digging and flinging soil around. But I would never let them into the veggie patch. Even at the end of the season, I will have winter veg going in. We had to deal with the problem of native marsupials and large wild birds eating their way through our harvest, so built raised beds with a steel frame and wire netting all the way around it. Not to everyone's taste, I am sure! Sure works though! I have to lock myself in it when the chickens are free ranging, because they make a bee line for it!!! Admittedly, we are close to a national park in Sydney, so there's lots of wildlife on the lookout for a free snack, but now we've got chickens as well, I am really pleased we just got all the construction and cost up front. It has more than paid itself off after three years of almost complete self-sufficiency in fruit and vegetables.

    Good luck with seeing what ideas will suit you.


  10. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Chickens may not do a lot of damage in short sessions, but they will take a peck of every tomato, eat blooms off squash vines, and dig at the base of plants.

    So my garden is fenced.

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