[Market-farming] Free Range Chickens in the Garden

Jim Woodyard mwjw at swbell.net
Fri May 16 10:30:49 EDT 2003

I was going to stay away from this thread to avoid being branded a kook.
However, amen to the comments of Liz, Leigh, Lucy and Jill.   Those so
concerned should be wary of eating in restaurents and fast food places.  If it
were not for the law suit happy crowd and a few other practices that have been
forced on us over the past 50 years or so we might not be having some of the
problems that we have.  As for the chickens in the garden it doesn't work per
se because as has been said the chickens eat and scratch out the garden.  My
pastured hens were pretty hard on the native vetch in the pasture this spring.

Lucy Goodman wrote:

> I really like Leigh's Answer about pathogens. I will add because i keep
> seeing the term e-coli being banted around that chickens are not an
> e-coli vector. salmonella, campybolactor, etc., could be problems but
> not e-coli157, that comes from feed lotted cattle and humans but not birds.
> but this does not answer the question asked, how to range chickens in
> one's market garden. What we do is put the chickens in as a part of the
> crop rotation. We figure out about a year before hand where they will be
> pastured, plant clover for them, let that grow all fall and early spring
> than put them on that area, where no crops are being grown.
> We have modified chicken tractors with pop doors and a fence around the
> area we want them to graze so they don't get out. Our meat birds rarely
> get loose but our hens especially as of late are another matter. There
> are several who do get out and they can do a great deal of damage to all
> sorts of things. If they find leafy green crops forget about a bit of
> poop on the greens-our hens will destroy the bed(s) by eating and
> scratching the plants to death. Tomatoes they will take a delicate bite
> out of every mater they can reach unless cherries which are bite sized
> for them so they just denude as much of each plant as they can.
> Brassicas end up about like salad mix and spinach, eaten and scratched
> to death. And if you mulch deeply with straw the chickens will have a
> ball removing every bit of mulch from your beds and depositing it in the
> isles as they go after bugs in the litter.
> One thing we do to minimize damage from hens on our crops is we use row
> covers. if they cannot see the bed they will ignore it as a non food
> source. This also keeps wild birds from excreting on our crops.
> We also found do not run chickens in your orchard after the apples
> appear. we tried this for about 20 minutes only to find the hens
> gleefully leaping up to grab the pommes off of the tree. right before we
> got them off of the area they had figured out that climbing into the
> tree meant even more tiny green apples (and lots of damage to next
> year's buds). we were seeing if they could control the plum curculios-no
> they can not.
> Lucy Goodman
> Boulder Belt Organics
> New Paris, OH
> Check out the Boulder Belt website:
> http://www.angelfire.com/oh2/boulderbeltcsa
> "There is no way to peace---peace is the way."
> A.J. Muste
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