Chickens are foragers. They spend many hours scratching the soil in search of food. With proper management (that is by fencing off your vegetable garden and your beautifully manicured landscape), chickens are wonderful garden helpers. Chickens are masters at tilling. They dig holes to dust bath in, and turn over the first inches of your soil in a matter of minutes. No need for tools. By scratching they also disrupt the life cycle of many insects who lay their eggs in the soil. Chickens can help aerating your compost pile. They love the worms and bugs that are in it, and will happily dig them out. Okay, you may have to fix up the pile afterwards, but it saved you the manual labor of turning it :) Talking about spreading a pile. Have you ever thought about having your chickens spreading mulch for you? Give them a pile of mulch, put some treats on top, and watch! Chickens forage for a wide variety of little critters. They eat grubs, worms, and slugs. Even flies! They are very efficient at controlling the insect population. They also love to eat plants and seeds. They are quite skilled at keeping the current and next generation of weeds in check. With no pesticide, no herbicide, chickens are organic gardeners! Insects and weeds become chicken poop, and chicken poop becomes black gold in the garden. Add it to your compost pile when cleaning up their coop. It will add precious nitrogen. You can then use this rich compost as a fertilizer in your garden (to grow delicious kale as a reward to your chickens for their good work). Chickens also love to help with reducing the yard waste. They will devour broccoli full of aphids, chards infested with leaf miners, cut grass, and of course your kitchen vegetable and fruit scraps. Almost everything goes to the compost pile via the chickens. You can bring your chickens to a certain area of the yard that needs tilling, weeding, and fertilizing. Just make sure that they always have access to water, food, a nest box, and shade on a hot day. Chickens are natural gardeners’ companions. The more foraging they do, the happier they are and the healthier your garden will be.
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