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Today we will talk about using chickens in the garden. You must have heard that in many places in the world, people are using poultry birds such as Chickens, Ducks, or Guineas to control pests in their garden. Today we will discuss these methods and their pros and cons.
Raising chickens or ducks etc is itself a fun activity. The experience of waking up in the morning with a rooster crowing can be very pleasing.
They provide a fresh supply to your food requirements. But there are more to eggs and meats; you can use these birds to control your garden pests. Yes, that’s right. Poultry birds, in particular, are natural insect feeders.
Having a chicken in your garden can have a mutualistic effect. The garden helps the chicken with lots of nutritious, healthy and easy to find feed, and chicken, on the other hand, helps the garden by reducing soil bugs, eating weeds, adding fertilizers and many more.
In essence, it forms a way of sustainable living. Now neither the vegetable peels nor the eggshells or the nutrient-rich poops are going to be wasted.
Which Pests Do Chickens Control?
Chickens can remove many insects and pests from your garden. Some of the common pests are
- Asparagus beetles
- Japanese beetles, and
- Colorado potato beetles and larvae.
You can also use chicken to remove slugs, snails weed seeds etc, from spoiled hay before using as mulch, or compost.
Chickens and Pest Control:
While everything seems so perfectly matched there is one little problem. The thing with chickens is that they will not follow your orders easily. They will eat whatever they find and can create havoc in your garden.
So now comes the most important question. How can I get my chickens to stop destroying my garden?
How To Use Chickens To Protect Your Garden:
Chickens generally dig down more than 2 inches while foraging in soft soil. This can create a problem as it can seriously damage to an unprotected vegetable garden.
The best way to stop this is to protect the garden with fences. Don’t worry they can be beneficial even if you keep the chickens outside of the garden.
Some slugs and insects can easily get out of the fence that they can easily gobble up. You can also toss handpicked bugs to the birds.
You can also allow the chickens into the garden for a limited time before the sunset. But before allowing the chickens into the garden make sure that any newly planted beds are protected with row cover or chicken wire.
Allowing chickens for a limited time ensures that they don’t have time to so any serious damage but can gobble up some bugs that are there for the taking.
6 Other Ways to Use Chickens in the Garden
As A Tilling Machine:
Chickens are a real tilling machine. One chicken can till up to 50 square feet area within a month. I agree that they are a little compared to the machine tillers. But hey, you don’t need any fossil fuel to run a chicken. They do their job in silent mode without your efforts.
Adding Fertilizers to The Garden
chicken manure is high in nitrogen content. Broadly a single chicken can produce 8 pounds of manure in one month.
Add this high-level nitrogen with proper brown material to prepare an ideal compost ratio. Use this manure to make great compost. Use it to fertilize your garden.
Auto Compost Turner:
Guess what chickens are a great compost turner. As you know for speeding up your composting process you need to turn the compost pile regularly. This will add fresh oxygen to the pile which makes the process easier.
Having chicken in your garden your job is automated. It’s true they will not turn the entire pile and neither do they reassemble it, but they will definitely do a quite a bit of your work.
Spreading The Mulch:
If you want to spread mulch or compost, chickens can be of great help. They are a great leveller.
Confine the chickens around a pile of mulch or compost where you want it spread. Leave them until the mulch or compost is levelled.
If the chickens aren’t showing interest in a pile you need spread, spread some chicken feed on the pile, so they have to scratch for it.
As A Way of Disposing Garbages:
17% of what Americans throw out as “trash” is food for chickens. They can eat almost anything that a human can eat. This means a small flock of chickens could eat a lot of food “trash” a month.
All you have to do is collect your food scraps in a bucket. You can clean up what they won’t eat or let it decompose and use it as fertilizer for your garden.
Source of Healthy Eggs:
One of the biggest benefits of having chickens in your garden is you’ll have fresh eggs daily.
As free-range chickens can access a variety of diets including plants and insects to supplement their feed, the eggs will be healthier than the store-bought ones. Having a good protein source also ensures that eggs from free-range hens have lower levels of “bad” cholesterol.
Other Poultry Birds That You Can Use in The Garden:
Chickens are the most popular type of home poultry because they provide eggs and meat, and a few hens make quiet backyard residents.
Ducks are slightly more trainable than chickens and often do a good job plucking up pests when slowly led around the garden.
In moist climates, ducks are highly regarded for their slug control talents. Unlike chickens, ducks are not driven to scratch out holes everywhere they go, but they will sample tomatoes and other interesting veggies within their reach.
Muscovy Ducks are also called “Mosquito Duck” as they are famous for eating mosquitoes. This is the primary reason why the USA has introduced ducks for controlling mosquitoes several centuries ago.
A Muscovy duck will eat the larvae of the mosquitoes when they are in the water and can even catch the adult if they fly nearby. Even the small duckling can do a pretty good job in controlling mosquitoes.
If your garden is infested with a huge number of insects and mosquitoes Muscovy ducks can be an amazing choice.
While talking about pest controlling birds, the most famous of them is Guinea fowl. They look like small chicken-sized vultures.
Though classified with chickens, a guinea fowl is more active and can fly higher than a chicken.
Larger guinea fowl are often considered the most aggressive of insect eaters, and guinea fowl are highly recommended where ticks are of primary concern.
Guineas are voracious eaters. They eat ticks, flies, beetles, bugs and even snakes. They will also protect the territory like no other.
Guinea guano is high in nitrates. So it makes a very good fertilizer for your plants.
Some times like a barking dog, they make so much noise in case they saw any intrusion.
Always buy younger guineas. The adult fowl are hard to domesticate and have the tendency to escape.
You can also keep guineas and chickens together; they don’t harm each other.
Another option is raring Turkeys. Apart from their delicious meat, you can use them in pest control.
They will also prevent your garden from grasshoppers, cabbage-worms and many other insects. But keep a leash on them when your garden has seedlings.
Letting them roam freely in the garden in these times can be disastrous for your Garden.
The Final Verdict:
Chickens, Ducks, Guineas or turkey are no doubt can be a very good addition to your backyard. If used with caution these can give a strong boost to your pest controlling measures and in turn, help you in doing gardening organically.
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