chickens/garden?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ra, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. ra

    ra Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 18, 2009
    Arkansas
    we just got are first 5 chicks yesterday. i was planing on building there coop in are 25x25 foot veggi garden we have. but have heard there poop is to strong for the plants and they might eat/peck some of the plants in the garden. do any of u people find this to be true? any ideas? we have a fenced backyard in the city. the garden is fenced so we were hoping to keep them in there.

    any ideas or tips would be great

    thanks
    ryan
     
  2. LilRalphieRoosmama

    LilRalphieRoosmama Officially Quacked

    Oct 15, 2007
    Elyria, OH
    Fresh chicken poop will burn your plants; it has to be composted first or at least aged. They will eat your veggies and your plants, or at least take bites out of each one as they go down the row (learned that the hard way last summer LOL!)
     
  3. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

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    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    Large quantities of chicken poop have nitrogen levels that will damage plants. Scattered poop around the lawns from free-ranging birds (or when I turn them out in a dorment garden hasn't harmed anything yet.

    But if your garden is to be their run, you will not have a garden. They will eat just about every plant down to stalks and scratch newly planted seeds out of the ground. Trust me, it is a bad idea.

    Look at photos here of coops and runs. Note the universal lack of anything green growing in runs used for more than a couple of weeks.

    Wayne
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  4. vermontgal

    vermontgal Chillin' With My Peeps

    Last year, my 4 birds arrived as day-old chicks in early July. From when they were about 8 weeks old, I let them range in the garden through the fall. But, as the plants were growing up the chicks were still too little to be in the garden. By the time the chickens were allowed in the garden, the garden was well established. Depending on how many chicks you get and when in the growing season, you too may have a harmonious chicken-garden situation for the first year.

    This year, the chickens are much bigger and I expect I will need to keep them out of the garden.

    Most people seem to do the following with adult chickens:

    * Allow the chickens to free range in the garden BEFORE you plant it, to clean up bugs, slug eggs, etc.

    * Keep the chickens OUT of the garden while you plan the garden and while the plants are small. Maybe until ~August, depending on your growing season.

    * Once the plants are established, allow the chickens to free range in the garden for ONLY about an hour before dusk. This is when the bugs are fairly active, and so the chickens tend to focus more on the bugs than on the veggies. Still keep the chickens away from ripe tomatoes. With most other plants, many people report that it is preferable to have chickens instead of bugs eating your plants. If the chickens eat the bugs (who would have eaten the plants), then you are not really coming out any worse if the chickens eat the bugs and take a few bites of the plants.

    * Allow chickens NEAR the garden but not IN it. Run a chicken tractor around the garden area, or create a chicken moat around the garden, or allow the chickens to have alternating primary use of a garden area (one year it's a garden, the next year it is a chicken area).

    All of this depends very much on the size of your flock. If you have 50 chickens in an 8x8 garden bed, for example, it will not even last an hour, even if the plants are "established." 2 chickens in the same bed with established plants might be OK. Take it slowly and adjust as you see results, but don't count on having the chickens be in the garden as part of your coop design.
     
  5. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Our chicken coop and run sits inside a fenced in garden in our yard in the city. Due to the size of our backyard (25 X 64), the area we had already fenced in for the garden (25 X 11) was the most logical place to put the coop/run in order to be a good neighbor. It was also an area that is largely protected from the Santa Ana winds we're prone to in this area.

    As has been already said, chickens will eat your veggies if allowed to freely roam. However, we've used many of the ideas presented by vermontgal and have had minimal problems. As you can see by my avatar photo, they have a secure coop/run inside the garden area. When in their run, they pose no threat to the veggies. Unless it's the end of the season, I do not allow them to range in my veggie garden. Since there are only 3 of them, it's easy to simply call them outside the veggie garden to range in the backyard and shut the gate behind them. Since there is more space, they're happier out there anyway.

    The challenge to this plan is that they don't have access to their nest box. This also hasn't been a problem because they've established good nest box habits and they'll usually complain to be let back in to lay an egg. They'll be 3 years old next month and I've not had a single egg laid outside of their coop. However, I work from home and can listen for them. If your plans are to let them roam while you're not home, this could be a problem.

    As for the poop. . . yes, when it is fresh out of the chicken, it's too harsh for plants, particularly veggie plants. However, in the larger garden it is no problem. However, their poop can be a plus for your garden. I do not use any chemicals in my backyard. However, I do have a compost pile that is made of garden/yard trimmings and their coop bedding. I use this in my yard, particularly in the veggie beds. I grow some beautiful veggies! Not only that, but my back lawn looks far better than before I had chickens. It's always green and healthy due to their fertilizing of the yard. In fact, it looks way better than my front lawn! Too bad I can't let them out there for a while. [​IMG]
     
  6. columbiacritter

    columbiacritter Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Scappoose Oregon
    My chickens get free run of my garden as soon as the last bit is harvested in the fall then they are banned once the first pea sprouts. I put their used coop bedding directly on the garden through the winter, stopping in mid January. By the time I'm ready to work it the rain and a good application of lime has tamed the nitrogen levels.

    Thru the summer I compost their bedding in a big pile the hens regularly work up. By fall it's less than a 1/3 the volume you'd expect it to be. The only time it smells is right after a heavy rain if the day is warm. The hens work it around so much it doesn't spoil. All that either goes on the veggie garden our any other dormant beds that need mulch and fertilizers.

    BTW they don't seem to care for garlic and largely leave those beds alone.

    Here they are helping me in the garden yesterday.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2009
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Nov 18, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    I have my birds fenced in. I did it to protect my gardens as they were scratching up everything I planted. I still consider it free ranging. I do move the fenced area to give them new territory to range in. There are pictures on my BYC Page.
     
  8. Rufflemyfeathers

    Rufflemyfeathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 20, 2008
    Astatula Florida
    I have my garden planted already and is coming up lots of greens in it for the chickens.. but didn't use chickey poo for fertilizing.. chickens not close to my gardens..got two but only one is planted so far..
     

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