If you love fresh produce and fresh eggs on your plate, growing a garden and keeping chickens is a pretty logical choice. There are few things better than going to the garden in the morning, collecting a few eggs from your hard working hens, picking a tomato, zucchini, some spinach, and a few leaves of basil and making yourself the ultimate backyard breakfast scramble. But while these ingredients mix well, creating a delicious meal, chickens and gardens don’t necessarily get along. If you want your garden to be lush and productive, you’ll need to keep chickens out of the garden to the best of your abilities.
How to keep chickens out of the garden
In order to keep your garden safe from your chickens, you need to understand what your hens are all about. Taking a little bit of time to get in your chickens’ heads, so to speak, will go a long way.
Chickens are natural foragers. If you release them into the yard, you’ll see them slowly move around, scratching, pecking, and looking for delicious bugs and plants to eat. So when chickens see your garden, they see a delicious place to forage, and they wouldn’t be wrong! All of your fruits and vegetables would be a worthy snack for your hard working, egg laying ladies.
Unfortunately, chickens can’t be easily trained to come when called or stay out of certain places in your yard like you might expect from a dog or a cat. They play by their own rule book. If you want chickens to stay out of the garden, you need to take mitigating steps to prevent their invasion of your growing space.
Do plants repel chickens?
There are some claims online that chickens hate certain herbs, like chives and lavender. There are definitely a number of plants that chickens aren’t especially fond of. If you free range your birds, you’ll find there are lots of different plants they choose to avoid. Unfortunately, keeping your garden safe from your flock of backyard chickens won’t be as easy as lining your garden with not so tasty treats. Your chickens will likely walk right by them in pursuit of more delicious snacks.
Other claims suggest that using citrus peels in your garden will keep them away. It’s true that chickens don’t really like eating citrus and you shouldn’t feed it to them intentionally, but in my experience, this doesn’t work all that well. They will ignore the stuff they don’t like and go straight for the things they do.
So what will keep chickens out of the garden?
The only sure way to keep chickens out of your garden is by establishing barriers that they can’t get through. Chickens are crafty though, you may need to try different types of fencing or different methods for keeping them out of your garden space. If you find that your chickens are able to easily jump over your fencing, you can trim some of their wing feathers to reduce the lift they get from flying. Before you break out the clippers, take a moment to watch this video on trimming chicken feathers.
Don’t fight your chickens’ instincts
In general, if you try to stop unsatisfactory behavior by going against the nature of a creature, you’re going to have a bad time. The truth is, chickens have a handful of very specific activities they like to engage in. One of them is slowly moving across their range, scratching and pecking and eating as many delicious snacks as they can. You can’t exactly deprogram your chickens’ behavior, but you can work with your chickens instead of against them. Your chickens can actually greatly benefit your garden if you know how to use their powers for good!
One of my favorite ways of using my chickens’ natural tendencies for the benefit of my garden is with the chicken tunnel, or chunnel for short. A chunnel is a simple wire tunnel that allows the chickens to roam throughout your yard while still confining them, keeping them out of your garden. Chunnels can be easily positioned between garden beds, so your chickens get to enjoy your garden without harming your veggies. They’ll even do the weeding for you! You can expect that, wherever you place your chunnel, the chickens will peck it bare.
Set up a garden they can enjoy
My final piece of advice goes hand-in-hand with my last point. Fighting your chickens’ natural instincts won’t result in you having a good time or all that much success. If you’re having trouble with chickens in your garden, consider setting them up with their own garden! A chicken garden doesn’t need to be filled with expensive starts, but purchasing our mixing your own chicken forage seed packs is cheap and the chickens will love eating the goodies you grow for them and rolling around in the soil.
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