Free-range Chickens: Amazing Tips For Backyard Garden Flock Management
by Dakota Storage Buildings, on July 19, 2023
Raising chickens has steadily grown in popularity over the last few years. The joy of fresh eggs every morning, the low-cost, eco-friendly pest control, and the fun that comes with raising a flock are reasons people continue to raise chickens. However, you may have noticed that your chickens have been having a field day in places they are not supposed to, particularly in your garden. You might have seen a few signs of their adventures: the footprints in your flowerbeds, the scratching and pecking in your vegetable garden, or the mysterious reduction of your petunias. You do not have to choose between your garden and your chickens. Instead, you can find a solution that accommodates both. We have tips and tricks to help you set boundaries, protect your plants, and let your chickens roam free.
Keep Your Yard How You Want It
Your yard is more than just a yard — it's an extension of your home, and you have likely spent hours making it an inviting space. Adding chickens to the mix should be joyful, but their natural habits can ruin parts of your yard. There are methods to maintain your yard while giving your chickens the free-ranging lifestyle essential to their well-being. Achieving this balance entails setting clear boundaries — areas where your chickens can express their natural behaviors freely and spaces that are off-limits to them. While directing your birds to designated areas, you can protect the ones you do not want them to disrupt. With a thoughtful strategy, you can keep your chickens from invading areas of your yard that you want to keep untouched. As you implement these measures, you'll see that your yard can remain just how you want it while also serving as a habitat for your chickens.
Balancing Your Yard and Chickens
Creating an environment where your backyard remains intact while raising chickens to be free-range may seem like a tall order, but it's entirely possible with a few practical steps.
Chicken Wire Protection for and From Your Chickens
Chicken wire can be used to protect your chickens and protection your yard and plants from the chickens. It is one of the most reliable tools to keep chickens away from certain areas. Rather than just fencing off your yard, think of chicken wire as a flexible tool to create zones in your backyard. For example, you could use chicken wire to build a protective barrier around your vegetable garden or flower beds. If there are specific areas where you don't mind your chickens foraging, keep those areas accessible. The wire's small holes allow chickens to stick their heads through to reach food on the other side, satisfying their foraging instincts without causing damage to protected zones.
Use Bricks and Stones as Barriers
If you've noticed your chickens showing too much interest in your garden beds, consider placing a ring of bricks or large stones around them. Not only can this deter your chickens from scratching up the earth, but it can also add a decorative touch to your garden. You can use different layouts, sizes, and colors of stones and bricks to create a functional and visually appealing barrier. This addition enhances your garden's aesthetic while protecting it from eager chickens.
Plant Plants Just for Chickens
One innovative strategy to keep chickens from entering your favorite garden spaces is to plant foliage specifically intended for them. These 'chicken plants' can provide your flock with an attractive alternative to your plants. Consider planting robust, low-growing trees and shrubs that provide a place for the chickens to forge and shelter from weather and predators.
Planting Repelling Herbs
Plants can be pivotal in your chicken control strategy, not just as a food source. Some herbs, like rosemary and peppermint, are known to deter chickens with their strong aromas. Interspersing these plants throughout your garden, particularly near the areas you want to protect most, can help to naturally discourage your chickens from foraging there.
Install Motion Sensor Sprinklers
Motion sensor sprinklers can be an effective, non-harmful deterrent for curious chickens. When the chickens approach a restricted area, the sudden burst of water can startle them enough to keep them away without causing harm. Plus, it's a great way to keep your garden watered.
Protecting Your Garden Areas
Your garden is a labor of love. Seeing your hard work undone by enthusiastic chickens can be disheartening. But with a few proactive measures, you can save your garden and maintain the happiness of your free-range chickens.
Section Off Delicate Areas
Certain areas of your garden may be particularly vulnerable. For example, freshly sown seeds or young seedlings can be easily damaged by chickens. Consider using cloches or netting to protect these delicate areas, especially during the early stages of growth. Remove them once your plants are sturdy enough to withstand a bit of chicken interest.
Plant Chicken-proof Plants
Cultivate plants that chickens dislike or find distasteful, such as ferns, geraniums, and lavender. These plants will add variety and color to your garden while being less likely to be a target for your flock. Another option is to opt for resilient plants that thrive even after a bit of pecking, such as robust perennials or thorny bushes.
Providing Adequate Roaming Space
To lessen their interest in your garden, ensure your backyard chickens have enough to keep them occupied. Providing an ample foraging area stocked with their favorite treats can help divert their attention from your precious plants. A compost heap of insects, worms, and kitchen scraps can appeal to them.
Move Free-range Areas Regularly
If you have the space, consider designating multiple free-range areas and rotating your chickens between them. This allows your garden to recover and regenerate after each foraging session. The chickens' manure can even be a natural fertilizer for your plants.
By implementing these strategies, you can keep your garden in great shape while letting your chickens enjoy their free-ranging lifestyle. Remember, it's not about excluding your chickens from your garden but creating a balance that benefits you and them.
Raising Your Backyard Chickens
The journey of raising chickens is a continuous learning experience. We have compiled our wealth of knowledge into an easily accessible beginner's guide specifically designed for those raising a flock for the first time. This comprehensive guide covers everything from understanding chicken behavior, dietary needs, preferred habitats, etc. Embrace this journey as an opportunity to continually learn, adapt, and grow alongside your backyard chickens. Ensure a happy flock by downloading our free guide, The Beginner’s Guide to Raising Backyard Chickens!