Why You Ought to Plant A Hen Backyard & How To Get Began

A chicken garden? That’s right! Planting for chickens is becoming popular, as the interest in chicken gardening grows. Just this morning I was looking out my kitchen window and was greeted with the sight of a half dozen chickens pecking their way down the alley. A regular sighting, these particular fowl belong to a neighbor from whom they regularly escape. Perhaps if the owners would plant a chicken garden, the creatures would feel no need to supplement their diet elsewhere.

Benefits of Chickens in the Garden

Currently, raising backyard garden chickens has exploded in popularity. Not only is it nice to have fresh eggs, but you can control what your chickens eat, hopefully leading to optimally healthy eggs. Chickens are also great gardening assistants, improving soil, retarding weeds, and eating up pests.

Common Problems Gardening With Chickens

As with most silver linings there is a cloud lurking nearby. The downside of keeping hens is that they can be indiscriminate when it comes to eating their greens, scratching for insects, or taking their dirt baths. The result can be a garden in disarray with holey produce, plants that have been dug up, and random holes scratched into the soil for a dusty bath or brooding sight. Creating a garden for chickens specifically can end all this mayhem.

How to Grow a Chicken Garden

The first thing is to locate an area for the chicken garden. Chickens like and need the sun but it is also important to provide them with some shade and habitat where they can hide from predators. Of course, you should provide them with water which could be in the form of a dispenser or even a water feature, provided you use no chemicals in the water.

If you want to keep your hens out of the rest of the garden you will need to fence in the chicken garden.

You’ll also need to provide them with additional chicken feed. A hundred years ago, chickens simply foraged for their food but today, many people feed them a balanced mixed and bagged feed. If you are feeding your hens in this manner, you should introduce them to other foods slowly.

If your chickens are used to having the run of the garden then they’ve been sampling all sorts of delicacies. The good news is that there are very few plants that chickens should be kept away from.

Best Plants for Chickens

For the most part, if we can eat it, chickens can too. This means that a variety of veggies, herbs, and berries are excellent options for a chicken garden. Berry bushes can also double as protective habitat for your feathered friends.

If you have less domesticated fowl, it’s a good idea to incorporate underbrush to provide them with nesting sites. Provide your feathered friends with a mixture of grass and broadleaf plants or weeds to scratch in.

In general the more diverse the plantings are the better. Don’t worry too much about plants that are toxic to chickens. If the chickens are busy and entertained, they will pass over these unsavory offerings in lieu of more delectable finds.

An exception to the above is members of the Solanaceae family. Nightshade members such as eggplant, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes should not be planted in or near a chicken garden as they are deadly to the fowl

Do include trees and shrubs to provide shade. Those that produce seeds or fruit get extra bonus points.

Final Word on Chicken in the Garden

If you don’t have the space or inclination to create a garden just for your hens, consider allowing them to share in the bounty. Plant enough of their favorite pickings. Chickens love squash, especially pumpkins, all members of the Umbelliferae family (carrots, fennel, celery), corn, beans, peas, lettuces, Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers.

When all else fails, consider using a chicken tractor, a moveable coop, to control your chickens’ access to certain areas of the garden. That way they can still have outdoor foraging time and contribute to the tilth of the soil without digging up your prized dahlias.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Let My Chickens in My Vegetable Garden?

You absolutely can allow your chickens access to the veggie garden. They will improve the fertility of the soil, aerate it, keep weeds down, and eat pests. However, chickens are not tidy or discriminating eaters. They will likely make a mess, take out some plants, punch holes in produce and leaves, and generally create mayhem. You might consider restricting their movement somewhat and moving them around the garden by using a chicken tractor or other moveable coop.

Can Chickens and Gardens Coexist?

Yes, chickens and gardens can coexist especially if you are a relaxed gardener. If you want everything to look tidy and pristine in the landscape, chickens may not be for you. You can control where the chickens forage by moving them around in a movable coop or chicken tractor. This will keep them out of some areas while allowing them to forage in others.

Leave a comment