The obvious benefit of chickens on the homestead is fresh eggs, less obvious is their use in the garden. Chickens are awesome at cultivating soil with their scratching, catching bugs, feasting on weeds, and fertilizing your garden, if they are contained. But free to roam they will wreak havoc to your garden quickly. Containing them in a moveable pen with an open bottom allows them to scratch and work the soil.
Key benefits of chicken tractors in the garden:
- Pest Control: The chickens will eat insects and dig up grubs. They also consume diseased plant residue.
- Weeding: Weeding occurs as the chickens peck and scratch the soil. This process removes all plant matter, and seeds; thereby, clearing the pen of current and future weeds. The soil stays relatively weed free for about 2-4 months.
- Fertilizer: Chicken manure is a great fertilizer for your soil which is able to supply the nitrogen needs of a small garden. Phosphorus, and potassium found in their feed, are also in their manure. The soil is ready for planting in two weeks after moving the chickens to a new location. The waiting period is necessary so the excess nitrogen can bind with carbon in the soil otherwise you will burn your new plants. This initial nitrogen burn also helps clear the plot of weeds.
- Food: The hens will supply you with a steady stream of fresh eggs.
It's enclosed in such a way that protects them from weather and predators
while leaving the bottom open.
|'The Girls' on bug patrol.|