Chickens in woodland garden

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by Happy Flock, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. Happy Flock

    Happy Flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 11, 2013
    Victoria, Australia
    Hello. I'd love to know if any of you have a woodland garden with chickens.

    I've just moved to an half acre property in southern Australia. The backyard where my chickens free-range is a woodland-type garden, with lots of trees: camellia shrubs, 4 magnolias, 1 walnut tree, 1 variegated-leaf cedar, 1 gingko, 1 large cypress, a mature gum-tree and some other things which I don't know the names yet! Below are some snapshots of the garden:
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    Pictures above taken at the end of our winter in Australia (August). Most trees still didn't have leaves. Now they are fully covered.


    Summers here are hot and very dry (like a Mediterranean climate), with winters being cold and wet. Temperatures in summer can get as high as 40-45 C (104-113 F). In winter, we can get down to 0 C (32F) but never below that. There is a lot of shade and part/shade in the garden. My chickens are locked up in the coop at night but free-range in the garden during the day. I've got 5 Orpingtons, with potential addition of more 4 from a hatch at the moment.

    I'd love to hear from folks who have similar gardens. How do they cope with their chickens in the garden? Do you allow them free-range or do you confine them? What groundcovers and shrubs do you grow in your woodland garden? Are you able to grow any fodder for the chickens? Or herbs/veggies for yourself? What landscaping/decoration have you done?

    Looking forward to pictures or information!!!!
     
  2. DStewart PDX

    DStewart PDX Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 25, 2013
    Portland, Oregon
    I am in Portland, Oregon, USA. My chickens are hell on my garden. Larger shrubs and trees will not be bothered by them. However, new plantings and small plants are favorite targets for my chickens. They will dig up anything newly planted, as fresh soil is one of their favorite things. They also like to nibble fresh greens, and depending on the season, they will go after your plants as high up as they can reach. They also have this annoying habit of returning to the same place again and again and again until it is thoroughly destroyed. I have no plans to grow anything smaller than a shrub where my chickens range. Young plants receive a low temporary fence for as long as they need to keep the chickens from uprooting them.

    Curiously, a friend of mine who grew up with chickens said her family's ranged in the garden all the time and never bothered anything. She was aghast when I described what my chickens do, and said, "Oh, my father would never have tolerated that." I don't know where he got such thoughtful chickens, but I have never had any,
     
  3. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    We have some large ornamental pear trees, a very large oak, smaller ornamental trees (Crape Myrtles and Vitex), roses, pyracantha shrubs, loropetalum shrubs, nandina shrubs, and lots of other perennial flowers - (daylilies, mums, asters, lantana, salvias, sages, echinacea, blackfoot daisies, shasta daisies, asparagus fern, Japanese fern, hostas, heuchera, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, cannas, verbena, coreopsis, plumbago, phlox, catmint, irises, lavender varieties, and a host of other herbs). We also have a vegetable garden. When our garden areas were initially planted, we placed a small fence around each section. -knew that the chickens would destroy new plantings. About three-fourths of the way into summer, we took up the fencing. -plants thrived and did very well. The chickens love to scratch about in the lantana and verbena, but don't destroy it at all. It has a very tough, woody stem that holds up well to lots of chicken traffic. Our blueberries are planted in whiskey barrels and are worked into flower beds providing a taller backdrop. -chickens will help themselves to what they can reach.

    For the most part, we have a very mild climate. -excessive heat in the summer through part of fall (100+ degrees). Winters are mild and cool. -some snow and sleet with temps occasionally dipping into the teens/single digits. -average in the 40s - 50s. Plantings are selected for climate tolerance. Also, we select plants that the chickens do not want to eat. We employ "limited free-ranging" due to the number of hawks. Our gardens thrive and look beautiful, and the chickens are more interested in foraging the lawn grass. For perspective, our lot is approximately 7500 sq. ft. We have ten chickens.
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Nov 7, 2012
    CENTRAL MAINE
    My property has woods on all 4 sides. The chicken coop is just to the north of the vegetable garden which is about 30' x 40' with a row of black raspberries to the west, and a row of blueberries to the south within the foot print of the garden. During the garden season, the girls are kept in a electric net enclosure 1600 s.f. They get out to free range when I can keep them shooed out of the garden. They prefer to do their ranging in the tree growth at the edges of my lawn, and have turned my front rose garden into a dust bowl. When the garden got hit by frost, I moved their electric net fencing to surround the garden, and let them have at it. There is also a 65 s.f. green house in my garden, and a temporary hay bale cold frame. The girls get the green house for a play room this winter. I just pulled the electric fencing, and gave them 1/2 of the garden with traditional fencing for the remainder of the very long and cold winter. Temps down to - 20 degrees, frost not out of the ground until mid April.[​IMG]
     
  5. Happy Flock

    Happy Flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 11, 2013
    Victoria, Australia
    Thanks for your comments. It was interesting to read different stories about your gardens and chickens. My girls scratch everything, so it's hard to contain mulch in the garden beds. They will soon be contained in a large run, but I'd like to let them out into the garden for a few hours every day. They absolutely love free-ranging and seem happier when they are able to go wherever they please. My backyard is fenced, so they can't get out. Most small plants suffer from their scratching, but the shrubs and trees seem to be fine.

    I like the idea of planting blueberries in wine barrels. I think a lot of berries do well in semi-shade, don't they?
     
  6. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    Yes. We have to plant our berries in semi-shade, here. -summer heat is too destructive. Most all of the plants that call for "full sun" are planted with some afternoon shade in this climate to protect them from scorch. The lantana grows like mad in full sun, as do the cannas but that's about it. Also, our soil isn't conducive for growing blueberries. We emptied pure peat moss into the barrels, and they love it! -have doubled in size in a season!

    We found that having a large run works well. They have a good amount of space, and are safe. They do have about three hours per day on the garden area/lawn. -all chickens are thriving!
     
  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    BTW, I love also to hear about how folks in the other areas of the country are managing their poultry and gardens. Also love to hear how folks in my own area manage things. Pictures are great too!
     
  8. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Sorry, dbl post.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
  9. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,726
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    Apr 21, 2012
    North Texas
    [​IMG] - OEGB hen in the herbs. -eats the insects that land there

    Here are a few pics of our various gardens:
    [​IMG] - young vegetable plants with temporary fencing
    [​IMG] - perennials (a few months after planting). -fence came down shortly after this pic
    [​IMG] - perennial bed near henhouse. -chickens love to scratch about here
    [​IMG] - side garden of the henhouse
    [​IMG] - Buff Orpington gals scratching in the lantana bed
    [​IMG] - hens foraging in and around the cannas, elephant ears, and near the blueberries
    [​IMG] - scratching in the rosemary. They don't bother it a bit, but do rid the area of grubs
    [​IMG] - Buff Orpington well-concealed beneath a pyracantha shrub
    [​IMG] - chick and mother in the salvia and daylily garden. The bantams don't disturb the mulch, too much
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  10. Happy Flock

    Happy Flock Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 11, 2013
    Victoria, Australia
    Hi TXchickmum, nice to see your photos. Your garden looks very neat with the chickens out and about!
    I must try to get some wine barrels to grow berries and herbs. They are quite expensive here where I live though.
     

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