How to keep chickens with a garden?

tracydr(9b)November 22, 2009

I have always lived in the country and kept chickens, peafowl, and guineas until my divorce 5 years ago. I am now transplanted to a large city Loy (1/2) acre with about 50 giant pines, some lemon trees and a garden which I am just getting started. (actually will have multiple gardens by this spring)

I would really like to get a small flock of laying hens and old English bantams. We will move to a rural area in three years but I'd like to have my own chickens until then. ( ordinarily I'd be fully sustainable with neff, eggs, veggies and fruit, needing very little from the store)

my question is how do I allow my chickens to free range without destroying the garden on such a small property? I've usually had 100 acres for them to roam and eat bugs.

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maryld_gardener(5)

I don't think you can. You could make a chicken tractor and move them around but in my experience chickens love a garden and eat it up.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 12:48PM
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eyecndiggit

try a fence

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 4:22PM
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posy_pet(z6Mo.)

My chickens are in my garden.They are in two houses and two chicken tractors.I would build their house between two or even three yards and rotate them and the garden.Chicken tractors work well in the nicer weather but are a lot of work in the winter.I have seen plans where they actually fit over raised beds.Good luck.Posy_Pet

    Bookmark   November 22, 2009 at 7:09PM
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tracydr(9b)

How do they fit over the raised beds? Do you mean actually scratching in the beds? Do they damage the garden? Not too worried about melongs and peppers but thinking tomatoes, basil and greens might take a beating. If they can just scratch in the garden I can just turn them loose to free range in the entire yard, perhaps put a floating row cover over my lettuce and cabbage.
We don't have winter, which I really miss.
Summer's a bear/for a good 5 months of the year. We've seen 90 degrees even this month.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 6:21AM
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velvet_sparrow(Zone 5b, Gardnerville, NV)

You'll need to either enclose the chickens or the garden with a fence. Chickens LOVE tomato plants, by the way...

Velvet ~:>

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 3:04PM
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mikes100acdreamfarm

Chicken tractor is the way to go. Floating covers will just help them smash the plants down. Try planting your garden in wheat and clover seed in the winter. Early spring before you start putting the garden in run the chicken tractor down a row and let them turn it and fetilize it for you. Skip a row and do the next row. Contine until you have as many rows as you want. Then once the garden is planted put them in the remaining untouched rows. But move them often enough so that they don't kill the wheat and clover out. It's a great supplemental feed, rich yellow yolks and you get the rest of the garden fertilized for the following year of rotational gardening. They help keep pest down, can't tear up your plants and in my case give me a place to walk the rows without sinking knee deep in the clay during the wet seasons.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2009 at 12:18AM
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gardengalrn(5KS)

I had asked this very question a few years back when I was getting started with my chickens. Unfortunately, after having some experience with this, I agree that the two don't mix well. Especially in the spring/early summer garden when plants are young and tender. My chickens pecked at every type of vegetable and ruined a fair amount of my tomatoes. On a positive note, I was not bothered by squash bugs, my mortal enemy;) Then the fall garden really benefits with them aerating and fertilizing the soil. So they do have their place but I know my chickens won't be welcome in my garden until my plants are big and I've had my share first. Lori

    Bookmark   November 28, 2009 at 8:58PM
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ncdirtdigger(7b)

Have you tried frying the chicken before putting it in the garden? :)

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 5:20PM
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prmsdlndfrm

Bantams NO fly to much. Heavy layers lake Orpingtons and a electric poultry net from Kencove or Premier. You can build a small chicken house on wheels or skids and surround it with electric netting (hook a battery or solar charger to it) (netting comes in 160 foot rool)This way you can have best of both worlds, been doing it myself for 8 years. Unlike a chicken tractor it is a year round set up and if you balance population and space of pen you dont have to move it everyday. And at the end of your growing season put poultry in garden area to clean up pest weed seeds and fertilize.
Josh

    Bookmark   November 29, 2009 at 5:39PM
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