How do I free range and have a garden too?

Discussion in 'Gardening' started by twisted weaver, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. twisted weaver

    twisted weaver Out Of The Brooder

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    Nov 29, 2015
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    My little herd of 5 chickens will have their first spring and summer soon and, while not a daily thing, I started letting them out of the run this winter. This snow-less VT winter was quite novel and the chickens even spent New Years Day in the garden. But now that the growing season is coming I think my open and unprotected gardens will be devoured before they can get going. So I could : 1. Enlarge the run to more of a "paddock". 2.Get used to having chickens and no garden 3. Protect the garden somehow. Any suggestions? Do chickens eat everything?
     
  2. chicklover 1998

    chicklover 1998 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    you can do chicken tunnels through your garden, or you can fence off the garden, some chickens can get along in a garden and not tear it up others will you just have to give them supervised time in the garden to see how they do if you can trust them to not tear it up I wouldn't worry but if you can't just build a fence or do chunnels(chicken+tunnel) around they can eat the bugs and maybe some greens depending on how wide you make your rows and tunnels.
     
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  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Not possible to have a garden that chickens have free access to. I find that fencing my garden with deer netting is a very effective way of keeping the chickens out of it. This year, I may put my electronet fencing around the garden. The chickens have a decent sized run, which will need to be covered due to aerial predation. I let them out to free range when I can be around to supervise. My flower beds have been pretty much decimated. The chickens have access to the garden from last harvest to first planting.
     
  4. OPPT

    OPPT Out Of The Brooder

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    Chickens eat everything! I just enlarged my chickens' outdoor run in anticipation of hatching some new ones, and it took 11 chickens about a day to denude a 15' x 15' area of grass and thoroughly compost the pile of fall leaves that was in the area. A couple of years ago I used to let them out when I got home from work until their bedtime. I kept an eye on them from the kitchen window and if they got into the gardens, I shoed them out. I gave that up though about the third time we lost one to hawks, and just enlarged their pen with a (not so attractive, but effective) combination of snow fencing and deer netting over the top. Good luck!
     
  5. twisted weaver

    twisted weaver Out Of The Brooder

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    The "threat from above" is alarming....our town is very proud of the small bald eagle population that fly between the two ponds..and quite close to my house! I am sure we have hawks as well but hopefully all the flying predators are well fed with the fish. We've only had one loss to a dog which is what I think is the biggest threat to suburban chicken projects. Thanks for the information, so far I think I will keep only free range when someone can be there & likely I will enlarge the run. Again.
     
  6. phryan

    phryan Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 9, 2014
    In my experience chickens and gardens don't mix. I use the portable poultry netting to control where the flock can go, like lazy gardener the flock has access to the garden from harvest until spring. For about about a week in the spring I will limit the flock to only the garden, they tear it to shreds. I will then plant a cover crop for a few weeks before its time to plant, and lock them out. Then when I'm getting ready to plant I give them a few days to eat up whatever they can of the cover crop. At that point they will be locked out until fall, the poultry netting keeps them out not in.

    I made the mistake of letting them into an established bed of sunflowers, they pecked through the bottom 6" of stems and killed about 2/3s of the sunflowers. Now they aren't trusted anywhere in the garden, unless I want them to specifically eat/tear up an area after something is harvested, and the netting is used to keep them in that area.
     
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  7. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Excellent management plan, Phyran. You must have a longer growing season than I do. No way would I be able to grow a spring time green manure crop, and still have time to get in a full garden season. One thing I could do in my short season would be a crop of winter oats sowed in the fall. But, I much prefer deep mulch, currently converting to Back To Eden.
     
  8. twisted weaver

    twisted weaver Out Of The Brooder

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    Windsor VT
    So far they ate leaving the perennials alone. Just nibbling the phlox. Got edibles under netting. L
     
  9. Golden Goosey

    Golden Goosey Just Hatched

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    May 19, 2016
    Hello!
    As precious ad my girls (and boy) are, they are pain in the backside in the garden. They kick the dirt, they poop, they get out....
    Supervise them. I don't personally, as we just keep cleaning.
    Pen off an area.
    This way you can keep your garden, thd majority anyway.

    Good luck!
     
  10. BruceAZ

    BruceAZ Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Valley of the Sun :)
    If you have other pets (dogs) that also use the yard.. it's not a good idea to let the chicken free roaming outside all day since they will step on the manure. People can be a problem as well.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2016

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