Bringing chickens into your gardens has many benefits! Heres a short list of the good stuff to get you inspired:
- Free eggs – yum!
- Free fertilizer and nutrients from chicken manure
- Some insect and pest control (including ticks)
- Chickens convert your food scraps to fertilizer quickly and with no fuss
- Chicken tractoring on grass and weed patches means no weeding.
- Chicken tractoring avoids having to lay down cardboard or mulch to kill off grass and weeds when building new garden beds.
- Chicken tractoring also fertilises garden beds being rotated through different crops in the various seasons of the year. When you move the chicken tractor off a garden bed, its time to plant into it soon after the chicken manure has matured in the soil.
- Early warning alarm system for snakes!
Home Ecology as a design approach views your garden ecosystem as an extension of the home space – where plants, animals and microbes are important factors in the health of you and your home. The door isn’t the edge of the home, in fact its a porous threshold that is the fulcrum between the inner and outer home. The connection you have to your gardens is just as important to the home, so why not see that as one and the same domain? Building little homes for your chickens is a great way to build your self reliance, build your health with natural and delicious eggs and maintain the fertility of your gardens.
Home Ecology as a design approach maximises your home’s ecological health and also the productivity of your gardens and ecosystem diversity. Chicken tractors and coops are one of the best ways to get started on the pathway towards more self reliance . Below we feature several micro-chicken coops and chicken tractor systems so you can see for yourself how easy it is. To be able to get these benefits you need to either make, or buy a mobile chicken tractor or coop. Features to look for in a mobile chicken tractor include (but are not limited to 🙂 ) :
- Ability to easily move chicken coop around your vegetable garden plots (wheels ideally or small enough to pick up easily)
- A safe roost area under cover for chickens at night to sleep
- An egg collection door /system that causes minimal disturbance of the chickens
- Shade in the outdoor section to protect chickens from heat stress and rain protection
- Adequate ventilation and in cold climates adequate insulation for snug winter nights
Mobile chicken coops ensure that your vegetable gardens are protected from scratching of chickens, and directs the nutrients to the space you specifically want nutrients. Rotating the chicken coop through your garden beds ensures each bed will be ready to grow the healthiest and nutrient dense veggies possible. Another benefit of chicken coops are that they provide a nice comfy home for happy birds. We do however recommend that a chicken run should be available for chickens to free range in because it is not fair to hold chickens in a coop for long. For example the photo pictured at the top of this article, should only have chickens in it overnight or short sessions for intensive grass or weed tractoring. Chickens naturally want to roam free and range across diverse territory, plants and soil types. A chicken run should be a fenced off space that is big enough that birds have sufficient space and diversity to keep them healthy and happy.
Birds and farm animals are co-creators of food and health, so lets treat birds, animals, bees and all the farm creatures of the world, as we would want to be treated! That includes access to free movement, biodiverse food and habitats, regular care and checking in on them to ensure health and happiness is happening. When it comes to the sometimes avoided topic of animal slaughter, humane methods should be adopted that are specific to the needs of each animal. General rules to follow however, include not exposing animals to stress such as seeing or smelling the blood or remains of deceased animals, and in particular, death should be swift and pain free. If we ask ourselves – how would we want to go? Quietly, quickly and no pain would be high on the list. Our animal friends would expect the same, if indeed they must be killed at all. Chicken eggs, milk, cheese, honey and other animal bi-products which are a result of the animals or insect activities have the benefit that the animal lives on! Killing a farm animal is a task that should be approached with respect and honour for the animal, and gratitude that its life is supporting ours in a bond of life and death. Vale animals!