How to Free Range Chickens While Keeping a Nice Garden

“Contributed Post”

Lots of people want to keep their own chickens. They feel bad about the fact that supermarket chickens, and chicken products such as eggs, come from caged hens, and would prefer to have their own, thereby ensuring that they are properly looked after and have a good life. Keeping chickens, however, can be quite disruptive to your garden. So how do you make sure you can have your cake and eat it – keep chickens without them destroying everything?

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Why Keep Chickens Free Range?

When you keep chickens, you should let them free range. This is not just because it is nicer on the chickens. It also helps you to control weed and bugs and is therefore quite an important element of overall lawn care. Another added benefit is that if you free range your chickens, you won’t have to spend as much on your bird feed since they will eat bugs and weeds instead.

How to Free Range Your Chickens and Keep Your Garden

The best way to protect your garden is by making sure that fruit or vegetable beds, as well as baby seedlings, are adequately protected. Chicken wire works well, and you can also use PVC pipe for further protection.  During the spring, you may want to consider building a chicken tractor, which will keep them away as well.

Should you find that you have a lot of vegetables and fruits, then it might be better to fence that part of your garden off. This will keep the chickens and the fruits and vegetables separate. Similarly, if you want to keep your lawn looking lush and green, you could fence part of it off so that it becomes a no-go area for the chickens. There is a lot of inspiration to be gathered from others about this. In fact, entire books have been written about it.

A couple of other important tips when it comes to free-ranging your chickens:

  1. Let them out in the afternoon, after laying eggs, so you don’t have to go on an egg hunt every day.
  2. Choose fall and winter to start free ranging, so that they clean up your garden ready for spring.
  3. Always make sure that your chickens are protected from predators.

Training Your Chickens to Come in and Go Out

If you have chickens, you will know how funny, but also how stubborn they can be. It is unlikely that you will have much of a problem getting the chickens out of their coop, or even out of their run if you have built in before. Getting them back in, however, is a whole different story. Chickens naturally seek out a higher spot in the evening, when their predators come out. However, when you allow them to free range, they will find any place up a height, and not necessarily their coop. What you should remember, however, is that the way to a chicken’s heart (and trust) is through its stomach. With some carefully placed mealworms or cooked spaghetti, your chickens will quickly come to associate your presence with bed time in the coop.

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