Chickens in the garden during winter

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Yellow Snow, Jan 4, 2011.

  1. Yellow Snow

    Yellow Snow Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 4, 2011
    As I’ve browsed through some older posts I’ve read that some folks move their chicken tractors over their gardens during winter months to help fertilize and “till” the gardens. At first this seemed like a GREAT idea. But then I wondered: wouldn’t the uneaten chicken scratch and feed end up sprouting weeds in the garden? Does anyone have any recommendations to utilize the chickens for fertilizing and “tilling” without resulting in unwanted weeds?
  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    I do it. When there's no snow, I pasture them in the garden. They find old pieces and bit to pick and enjoy the digging around. Good stuff.

    As far as the seeds sprouting from scratch, I'd just say this. Don't use scratch while in the garden. People feed too much of this low quality feed anyhow, imho, and just my humble opinion. I can assure you that scratch does get "planted" and yes, milo, corn, etc does sprout next year.
  3. Lesa

    Lesa Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2008
    Upstate NY
    Not sure where the weeds would be coming from?? Are you going to feed them in the garden? I have never seen chicken poop sprout anything- unlike horse/cow manure. The chickens will dig up your garden, eat any bugs that might be lurking and have a grand time. I do not think you will have a weed problem... Scratch is generally, corn that is chopped up- I don't think it would sprout. Layer pellets, certainly won't. Give it a try- your garden and your girls will thank you!
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I absolutely let mine on the garden once I've harvested everything. They take apart whatever plants are left, till the ground for the following year and fertilize it as they go. I also dump a few buckets of horse manure on the garden and they love to pick through that as well, eating any grain and seeds they find. Within hours of a bucket being put out there, they have tilled it into the ground so much that you can barely see it. Mine are free range though. I leave the food/water where they are year round and just open the gate to the fenced off garden area so they go come and go as they please. So there is no scratch thrown out there. Over the winter, rather than throw stuff in the compost bin, where it just freezes, I throw it on top of the garden area. The chooks pick through it and eat what looks good to them. The rest (banana peels and so on), eventually gets scratched into the ground where it composts naturally. By putting the kitchen scraps on the garden, they are encouraged to continue scratching and tilling so they do a really thorough job.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by