I’m lucky, my Chickens are in a self contained area, they have a converted Shed for their House, another converted Shed as their ‘Restaurant’ and a Pen approximately 20 feet square to muck around in. The fencing is as secure as can be so not too much to worry about.
Needless to say the Pen area, after 14 years of keeping Chickens, is just plain earth which in Winter becomes plain mud, so it’s nice if I’m at home and doing work in the Garden to let them out for scraping and feeling softness under their feet.
Great for the Hens indeed, but for the poor Gardener who wants to dig and tidy up the Vegetable Patch, not such good news!
If you’re about to get Chickens for the first time, us experienced types will tell you that the code for them is ‘Spade or Fork mean Worms’. No matter how far they are away from you, it will take literally seconds for them to magically appear after you’ve put the said Tool into the soil !
This ends up with a job which should have taken you half an hour last at least two hours (if you’re lucky). Every turn of the soil will have how ever many Chickens you have nose diving straight into the hole.
Fair play, their sensitivity, eyesight and speed is second to none!
Through Winter having them follow your every move isn’t such a problem though, come Spring, everything you sow will have to be protected from them, in Summer to be honest, Vegetable Gardening or any other Gardening and Chickens just don’t go together full stop! They like Weeds, especially Dandelions, but give them the Option and they’ll clear your carefully and lovingly sown Brussel Sprouts in no time at all.
Autumn comes, the Vegetables are harvested and you can dare to let them out again, BUT… if you have have any Perennials which self seed, those Perennials are probably experiencing their last year.
I once had upwards of 100 Lupins in the Garden, they were beautiful. In Autumn I let the Chickens out and the speed they got to the seeds after hearing the pop of the Lupin heads was incredible.
So, plan your Gardening well and in Summer just make sure they can at least have some area to venture about in even if it’s in a moveable Run.
Don’t put it in the middle of the Garden, they tear the lawn apart. They don’t actually eat much grass, they just scrape it to find what’s underneath.
They’re in a much happier position against or partly inside a Hedge or under trees plus of course, heat from the sun in summer is more dangerous than cold in the Winter. For them a hot Summers day is like us walking around wrapped in a 14 tog Duvet!
Have fun with your Chickens, but beware of some of the consequences 🙂