How we use our chickens to start our garden

Updated: Feb 8, 2020

In the winter we put bales of straw in the garden and turned the chickens loose. They spread the straw, tilled the garden, got rid of seeds, grass, bugs and fertilized it…not totally. There are stubborn weeds where you must help them. Large clumps of grass just won’t budge and Johnson Grass roots always seem to evade us. Then there is Bermuda grass. I am convinced this grass must have been a punishment after man’s sin in the Garden of Eden. Okay, maybe not, but I HATE IT. The chickens dig some of it up, but it just comes back and thrives on the nitrogen the chickens have fed it.

In the beginning we could not afford Premier Fencing and an electric charger so we built cheap chicken tractors based on Joel Salatin’s idea in Pastured Poultry Profits. The great thing is that they are moveable and will slide fairly well down a garden row. The bad thing is that they must be moved and slid down a garden row pretty much daily. You have to refill the water and be sure that what you feed the chickens does not become a weed itself as in whole grain feeds. Below is a picture of one of our first chicken tractors in process of being built. My 11 year old granddaughter was 2! And that one is still in use although it's had many pieces repaired on it over the years.

The better plan is to provide a larger tractor that can be used as a coop for several days with Premier fencing around it. That way you can let the chickens out of the tractor each day and they run and scratch inside the fencing. You do not need to move the chickens as often that way. You must work on shorts in the fencing daily or it will become ineffective and the chickens will be out eating your lettuce and poking holes in your tomatoes.

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