Before you take the plunge into getting chickens, you may want to know if they’ll eat your vegetable garden. A quick answer to this is yes. However, there are simple prevention methods you can implement to reduce or eliminate this from happening. Below are some strategies to chicken-proof your vegetable garden:
To reduce the chances of chickens eating your vegetable garden, you should consider the below:
- Apply Chicken wire around the perimeter.
- Plant repelling herbs such as peppermint or rosemary.
- Lay citrus peels or fruits around the designated area.
- Minimize plant-based bugs by covering the soil with stone, plastic, or bricks.
As you’re able to see from the above, reducing the possibilities of chickens eating your vegetable garden is relatively easy. Either of the above methods is affordable and readily accessible for most people. So, failing to protect your vegetable garden is undoubtedly near impossible.
Chickens and vegetable patches have been a problem for many gardeners over the years, but you’re able to create this into an excellent relationship. Below, we go into detail about everything you need to know about chickens and vegetable gardens to encourage you to get involved.
Benefits of keeping chickens in your garden
Before we discuss how to protect your garden from chickens, let’s speak about the benefits that keeping chickens can provide us, the environment, and also our vegetables. These range widely from being a natural fertilizer to an excellent educational tool for today’s children. Here are some benefits you’re able to receive when keeping chickens in your garden:
One of the most common reasons why many adults invest in chickens is because of their children. This is because they’re a great educational tool, and they teach children many essential life lessons. From getting chickens, your children will understand what it takes to get the food they eat from the farm to the table.
Introducing your children to this at an early stage makes them develop a better understanding of the process, making them more grateful for the food they eat. Apart from that, the whole process of taking care of them, feeding them on time, and doing maintenance all helps with discipline.
Chickens are also great bins… Although that might sound somewhat questionable, it’s actually true. If you’re someone that hates wasting food but consistently overcooks, having chickens is the perfect solution.
To ensure your food doesn’t get wasted, chickens will happily eat leftover scraps from either breakfast, lunch, or dinner. However, although this is great and a free method of fattening them up, you should still consider their diet. Chickens can consume most foods, but scraps shouldn’t exceed more than 10% of their daily food intake.
Just like humans, chickens produce waste. As many gardeners know, using manure is a perfect solution to enhancing the development stages of plants and vegetables within the agricultural industry.
So, because chickens produce manure, it’s ideal for collecting it and using this as an organic fertilizer. This can be highly beneficial to you and your garden, as you’re able to provide your vegetables with nutrient-dense fertilizer for practically free.
However, remember only to apply this into a compost mix and not directly onto your vegetables. This is because chicken manure can be too hot for plants and therefore burn them. But from introducing it into a compost mix, it’ll cool down while providing significant nutritional value.
Non-toxic pest control
Another highly beneficial reason to keep chickens is because of their pest control capabilities. In their spare time, chickens love to rammish through your back garden looking for food. Here they’ll be looking in between grass, plants, and even weeds for one essential food source. Yep, you guessed it, bugs. Because of this, they act as a natural pest controller.
Including the above advantages, they’re also enjoyable to look after and provide some extraordinary mental and physical benefits.
From looking after chickens, it’ll require some daily maintenance that’ll involve full-body movement. This upkeep will take around 30 minutes a day, which is ideal as experts say you should spend a minimum of 20 minutes a day outside. Because of this daily exercise, it will increase the health of your muscles and bones because they’re being used more regularly.
Apart from physical benefits, you can also expect to receive some mental ones as well. From looking after chickens, you get a sense of life. If you live alone, sometimes you can be disconnected from reality and almost feel like your non-existent. Chickens offer you a great sense of “real-life” because they’re living organisms.
It’s evident, the main reason many people own chickens is that they produce eggs. Eggs are rich in valuable nutrients and can give us immense benefits if added to our daily diets. This also guarantees that your eggs are made humanely, unlike some supermarket brands.
To guarantee you’re getting free-ranged, non-chemical-based eggs, bringing up chickens yourself is the go-to solution.
As you can see from the above, the benefits of looking after chickens are immense, and this is only a tiny minority of them. Many gardeners believe that chickens are pests towards their crops, but it’s a lot more controllable than you may think.
Because I love breaking stereotypes, below we go into detail about how to prevent chickens from destroying your adored vegetable garden.
Will chickens eat vegetable gardens
If you’re a vegetable gardening fanatic contemplating whether or not to get chickens, you should understand why chickens attack your vegetables.
Many gardeners ask me, “will chickens eat my vegetables?” and the answer is yes. But, they’ll only do it because of the following reasons:
- Food – Chickens aren’t vegetable lovers, but what they do love is bugs. As you’re aware, bugs are prevalent in places such as a vegetable patch, making it much more problematic.
- Curiosity – Just like any other animal, chickens become bored and curious. Because of this, they’ll poke around in your vegetable garden to see what they’re able to find.
- Dust bathing – All chickens like to do something called dust bathing. This is when they dig a hole in dry soil and sit inside it, which helps remove parasites like lice and mites from their feathers.
From the above, you can start to develop a solid understanding of why chickens can destroy your vegetable gardens. Although they don’t generally eat the vegetables for enjoyment, there are bugs around them that intrigue chickens.
10 ways chicken-proof your vegetable gardens
Now onto the exciting part of this article, how to chicken-proof your vegetable gardens. Many vegetable gardeners will want to protect their crops in different ways. Because of this, I’ve developed a comprehensive list of ways to achieve this. For this, gardeners can implement a method that is more tailored to their requirements. Without further or due, let’s get into this.
One of the most common ways to barricade your vegetable gardens from chickens is by using something called chicken wire. This type of wire is specially designed to block access to chickens to a designated location. It has small diamond-shaped holes developed from a durable and robust wire to ensure your chickens cannot penetrate through it.
To apply chicken wire, you’ll need the following:
- Enough chicken wire to secure your parameter.
- Wooden beams to stabilize your chicken fence.
- Staple nails or also known as “U” nails to secure your fence to the wooden beams.
Once you’ve accumulated the above, you can start developing a chicken-proof vegetable garden.
2.Plant naturally repelling herbs
I must be truthful here. A chicken fence is undoubtedly the most effective method, but the only downside is that it doesn’t look very visually pleasing. If you’re someone who wants to keep your garden’s natural beauty, you should consider growing herbs around your vegetable garden that act as a natural repellant.
Here are some herbs you should think about:
3.Cover exposed ground
Something else you should think about is covering the exposed ground. The reason chickens gravitate towards your vegetable garden is that they’re on the hunt for bugs. However, these bugs are commonly found in soil. Therefore, if you cover the ground with gravel, shingle, brickwork, or plastic, the likelihood of them venturing over to your vegetable patch is radically reduced.
4.Invest into a chicken garden
If you have the room, why not consider developing an entire garden for your chickens to roam? Here you’ll treat them to a large pen which they can freely roam around. To increase their well-being, you can also plant their favorite herbs around the garden, including basil, henbit, and chamomile.
Although it can sound crawl, keeping them shut in a designated location. If you provide them with the right food, entertainment, coop, and features like their favorite herbs, they’ll be some of the happiest chickens alive.
Next, if you do not want to coop them up in a small environment, you should think about growing obstructions. As you can imagine, this will take time to develop, but once you’ve accomplished this, it’ll help you out massively.
To successfully achieve this, you can grow weeds, large shrubs, or even trees to minimize the accessibility to your crops.
6.Monitor free-range time
Typically, when you look after chickens, they won’t be cooped up all the time, and they’ll be allowed some free-range hours. This dramatically enhances the well-being of the chicken, making it much healthier. However, when you provide them free-range time, you should monitor what they do.
By doing this, you’re able to keep an eye on them to see if they go towards your garden. If they do, just calmly shoo them away. It’s not proven that chickens can listen to commands like cats or dogs, but if you shoo them away enough, I’m sure they’ll get the picture.
7.Have fewer chickens
It’s evident, the fewer chickens you have, the less prevention you’ll have to develop. By reducing the number of chickens you own, you’ll be able to monitor their behavioral traits carefully and therefore act accordingly to them.
8.Avoid planting vegetables that chickens love
Most chickens will actually head over to your gardening patch because you’re planting their favorite snacks. To minimize this from happening, you should consider not planting the below vegetables in your garden:
- Swiss chard
The above is just a small selection of vegetables that chickens adore, and if you can avoid planting these, it’ll greatly benefit your vegetable garden.
9.Invest in a motion sensor sprinkler
Chickens are like cats as they absolutely hate water. Therefore, you can add a motion sensor sprinkler to your vegetable patch to deter them away.
Each time the sprinkler detects something is close by, it’ll spray water in a circular motion. By doing this, it’ll quickly indicate to your chickens that they need to move away from that area, and trust me, they will.
10.Train a dog
Most houses nowadays have a dog. Therefore, you can train it to discourage chickens from entering a specific location. However, make sure your dog is adequately trained and doesn’t harm your stock. Some of the best “farm” dogs you’re able to obtain are:
- Australian cattle dog
- Great Pyrenees
- Jack Russell terrier
- Border collie
From the ten examples above, you must be able to implement one of them to prevent chickens from destroying your vegetable garden. However, don’t be afraid to change them slightly into something you desire more.
Can you keep chickens in a small garden?
By all means, you’re able to keep chickens in a small garden, as long as they’re maintained well and humanely. All you really need is a coop and a reasonably sized run depending on how many chickens you have.
However, before you dive into purchasing a pen, you may need to read up on the rules and regulations for your state. This is because some states generally have restrictions on how many chickens you’re allowed to have and various other “keeping” rules. To find out more, read the below.
Rules and regulations of having backyard chickens
As mentioned, laws about keeping chickens can massively vary from state to state, town to town, and even country to country. However, it would help if you considered developing scholarly research on this topic to ensure you’re abiding by your set rules. Here are some key points of information you should be aware of before getting chickens:
- They may put a cap on how many chickens you have in a residential area in some locations. For example, for every “X” square meter of garden you have, you’re able to house “X” amount of chickens.
- Some areas may not even allow you to keep chickens. This is typically in cities as you’re unable to provide a healthy living for them.
- Alternatively to the above, some cities may allow you to keep chickens, but they’ll have to be cooped up at all times.
- The coop you invest in or build, will have to abide by building regulations.
- You may even need to purchase a permit to have chickens in your garden.
- If you’re thinking about selling eggs, make sure you check on regulations based around this, as you may not be able to.
- Almost everywhere will have rules on noise, smell, nuisance, etc, so understanding this is crucial.
If you’re unsure about the above, you should speak to an attorney. Here they’ll be able to explain each regulation for your specific area.
Check these regulations before buying chickens
Some laws and regulations are more important than others. Although it’s great to have an understanding of everything, below are some vital regulations you need to be aware of:
- Zoning laws and ordinances
- Restrictive covenants and also homeowner’s association rules
- Lease restrictions
- Building codes
It would help if you had a solid understanding of the above. Failing to do so may result in you breaking some strict rules that can have devastating repercussions.
Everything you need to know about keeping chickens
After reading the above, if you’re ready to take the leap into getting chickens, you’ll need to consider the following to provide them with sufficient living quarters.
A coop’s main priority is to protect your chickens from various predators, like foxes. They’ll need to be relatively robust to withstand harsh weather conditions and predators trying to protrude the pen. Apart from being tough, you’ll need to invest in a coop with a run enclosed by mesh. A solid example of this can be found here.
Before purchasing a coop, you’ll need to consider how much space your chickens require. This highly depends on how many chickens you have. As a rule of thumb, to identify your coop size, you should allow 4sq ft per chicken in the coop. This allows for a comfortable leaving area for all the chickens situated inside of the pen.
With positioning, you need to consider a few elements. Hens love to scratch and dig holes in the dirt to find insects. Therefore, locating your coop on top of grass, your lawn will become destroyed in a matter of days, meaning you’ll need to relocate them. If you don’t want to do this, position them on a hard surface.
If you’re new to looking after chickens, you may want to invest in the below equipment to make your life that little bit easier.
- Small shovels
- Hard brush
- Food and water dispenser
- Disinfectant cleaners
This is an essential part of maintaining healthy chickens, and by doing this, they’ll produce more eggs. A chicken’s diet will consist of two meals a day. These meals should involve around 100g to 150g of pellets each day.
If you’re wanting to offer them some extra treats for when they’re behaving well, you should think about giving them mixed corn (wheat and maze). This will be a delicious little treat for them, and it’ll also fatten them up for the winter months.
You should also guarantee that they’ll have fresh water available from a dispenser, this way, they can keep hydrated through the day and night. Something you also may want to consider is diluting apple cider vinegar in their water occasionally. This provides them with very beneficial vitamins and minerals.
One of the most common ways a chicken will die is from a fox. So, making sure they’re well-protected from this predator is a must. To prevent foxes from getting in your pens, you should implement the below:
To decrease the possibilities of a fox accessing your exterior run either through digging or climbing, you’ll want to add a fence that is 5-6ft above ground and 8-12ft below the earth. By doing this, you’re dramatically reducing the chances of a fox being able to access the exterior run. The best way to implement this type of fence is through using chicken wire.
Something else you can think about is an electric fence. By using one of these, you can guarantee that you’ll discourage foxes or any other predators from entering the coop.
Either of these methods is a great solution to deter foxes away from your pen. If you live in an environment that is littered with this type of predator, it’s a must-have.
As you can see from the above, there isn’t a lot to owning hens. For what they produce, the resources needed are relatively inexpensive. However, if your budget allows for it, you should consider investing in the more premium chicken coops, foods, and protection methods, to ensure your hens are offered a healthy life.
After reading this extremely in-depth post about chickens and vegetable gardens, I hope you’re more inclined to the idea of owning some. The benefits you’re able to receive from them are truly astonishing and something everyone should consider.
The advantages are genuinely endless, from providing us with free organic eggs to offering an excellent fertilizer. By far, from what you spend on maintaining chickens, you certainly get more back.
Now you’ve read all of this juicy knowledge, you should think about starting your chicken coop. To be successful, consider what’s mentioned above, plan to protect your vegetable garden, provide a healthy living for your hens, and enjoy the process!