My husband and I recently took on a new adventure and decided to get backyard chickens. The girls have officially outgrown their brooder and have been living outside for the past few days in their coop. Leading up to the girls arrival we started reading A LOT about how to raise chickens, and of course we’re still learning as we go. Through my research on becoming a chicken 101 expert, I came across a lot of articles talking about chicken gardening. I always knew that chickens were good to have in/ around your garden but I never really considered the pros and cons. After digging around and doing more research I found the idea of growing a garden just for the chickens. If you don’t have extra space at your house to grow a separate garden just for the girls, you can always feed them extras from your garden.

First, lets talk about the pros of chickens being in the garden:

-Improved soil: not only will they fertilize the soil with their poop, but they will also till the soil by pecking at the ground. Their poop is also really amazing for compost piles as well!

-Pest and weed control: Chickens LOVE to eat bugs, unfortunately this means they’ll probably eat a few of the good garden bugs as well.

-Healthier chickens and eggs: The old saying is true “you are what you eat”. If you’re providing your chickens with a healthy diet their eggs will taste better. Both the chickens and your family benefit from this one!

-Garden clean up: As the season comes to an end, you can let the chickens run around the garden to help clean up the left overs.

The main concerns of letting your chickens in the garden is not being able to control what they’re eating. Chickens will tear up and eat your plants if you aren’t watching them. They’ll probably do it even if you’re watching them- haha. It can be hard keeping your produce looking nice if they’re pecking holes in everything and eating it. This can be a problem if you plan to sell your products at the farmers market. I know this isn’t many cons to consider, but it could get frustrating trying to keep the girls from tearing up your plants.

So, why not plant a garden JUST for the chickens!? It doesn’t have to take up a lot of space, I plan on building some raised bed along the sides of my coop to grow food just for the chickens to eat. I’m hoping that this will also help prevent any predators from digging under the coop by creating a barrier. What do I plan on growing for the girls?

-LOTS of greens: lettuce mixes, spinach, swiss chard, and kale.

-cabbage: this will also double as entertainment for the girls! Chickens love to play, and cabbage wheels are a fun way to bring both a healthy snack and entertainment into their lives.

-herbs: there is a whole list on the internet that you can find of herbs to plant for chickens, but the ones that I plan on planting for our girls are: basil, thyme, and mint.

As I mentioned before, if you don’t have the space or time to plant a garden separate for your chickens you can always feed them the extras from your garden. Instead of composting it, you can give the “ugly” produce to the chickens. I promise they won’t mind! In the end, this will help you save money by growing food for your chickens vs. buying feed all the time. Even if its just a few months out of the year you’re growing food for them, every little bit helps!

I hope you found this blog helpful with your backyard chicken gardening!

(Yes, my dog loves to watch over the chickens in the yard) haha!

-Eryn Neyer