Having chooks has been something of a learning curve for me. We always had chickens when I was a kid so I think I thought that I was fairly knowledgeable about them. WRONG. I’ve found them both entertaining, bewildering and just straight out strange. I’ve also found them quite destructive when let loose in the garden. As a result I’ve opted for some protective measures to try and dissuade them from entering certain areas of the garden.
This metre high plastic fencing has kind of worked. They can fly over it and occasionally do, but mostly they can’t be bothered and stay on the appropriate side of fence. It has the advantage of being entirely portable and will allow me to choose which areas of the garden they free range in.
For my most recently planted seeds and seedlings I have added additional reinforcement to allow the plants to survive in the instances the chooks do break free of the above fencing. We initially built these cages to stop blackbirds from digging up areas of the garden but they work equally well for chickens.
The other method I have tried is just to put some chicken wire loosely over the planted area. This did not work nearly as well as the cages. They just ignored it and pecked and dug away at the area regardless.
Overall though I think my combination of protective measures seems to be working….for the time being anyway. Now I just need to work out how to get them to go back in their pen at night rather than attempting to roost on the washing line.
Do you clip their wings? Or do they not fly enough to bother with it?
I could clip their wings but I am waiting to see if they will fly much when they are fully grown. They are still reasonably young birds and I’m hoping that they will be less inclined to fly when their body weight increases a bit.
I have taken to making small hoops like yours to protect my greens from grazing deer. I will be starting my first flock of chickens this year. The chicken’s pen will share a wall with the garden and I hope to let them in the garden in the fall to help with the cleanup. Thanks for sharing some methods of garden protection that you have tried. I have a feeling I will be learning as I go as well.
It is a entertaining learning process I have to say. Most amusing.
When I finally get a flock of chickens all to myself they will be on the inside of the fence and not allowed to roam. There are far to many predators around here and chickens tend to disappear, day or night, so they have to be well protected. I might try putting them into a chicken tractor for daytime outings.
My understanding is that it is really only in the evenings and at night that they are in danger here so I feel guilty when I don’t let them out. Having said that the pen is big enough not to so I don’t know why I don’t just leave them in. It would be far easier.
I let mine in the garden for a little while each day, I have put some mesh around the fruit trees as they keep having a peck but then I just call come on girls and use a plastic lawn rake to hurry them along which for some reason they really don’t like and disappear back in their pen.
Its interesting isn’t it, I find herding them heaps easier when I have sticks in either hand, they do seem unsettled by them don’t they?
I’ve ‘trained’ our hens to come when they’re called by rewarding them with grapes (their favourite) – or maybe they’ve just trained me to provide them with a regular supply of grapes? Either way, it works well when I need to get them back into their run.
Excellent idea – I love that you’ve trained the chickens. I definitely intend to ‘train’ mine to behave sensibly – time to stock up with some grapes.
Your chickens sound very strong-willed! Perhaps you could keep them in their chook house for a couple of days rather than letting them out, to remind them that it is home and then they might start to go back in there by themselves at night. We also have a strict rule that the only place ours are fed with grain is in the chook house so they connect that with food and go in there late in the afternoon to eat. My garden looks much like yours with fenced off sections all around it, although the vegies on the outer edges always end up well pruned!
Good advice – thank you. Hope they think so too…
I like the look of your chicken proof caging. My garden has the same level of protection, but from possums and cats. (the possums eat the vegetables and the neighbour’s cat seems to think my garden is one large toilet).
When I lived in London all of the surrounding houses had cats and they all used our garden as a toilet – you have my sympathies it isn’t pleasant is it?
Eek! I have been using the ‘chicken wire loosely laid over the veg beds’ method to try to keep the cat out! He uses them as his own, personal toilet, driving me batty. The cat cannot resist a bit of newly turned soil ~sigh~ I had hoped this would work for chickens too since we intend to get some in Spring, but looks like I might have to rethink that.
Well it didn’t work for mine but yours might be a lot better behaved.
Hope you and the chickens reach a mutually acceptable understanding!
I’ve written before about how unattractive my garden looks these days, draped in bird netting, but I have to do that or give up altogether. OR get rid of the girls which I don’t want to do.
A hint I was told was to only have water available in their pen, that way they will look on it as home and go there at night. It sort of works. Sort of.
One of them is obviously the dominant one and she has some peculiar behaviour, at times. She hasn’t done it for a while but she went through a stage of trying to crow like a rooster! It was the most awful, loud, strangled sound. She’d even arch her neck like a rooster does when it crows. Very odd. She also goes through stages of insisting on roosting in the plum tree. I usually brush her down with the straw broom but sometimes I’d just leave her there. Now that the nights are cooler, I don’t think it’s so appealing to her.
I’m still getting regular eggs from them both, though not every day. I thought production would have dropped off more by now – I must do some baking – I can’t keep up!
Talking of chooks – as we know, they poop where they stand, with no regard to where that happens to be. I can’t go outside in anything other than ‘outside only’ shoes. I bought a pooper-scooper from a $2 shop (though it cost a little more than that!) and scoop them up regularly to add to the compost bin.
Ah, the compromises we make!
I went to the gym the other day and noticed I was making small deposits of dried chook poo on the floor which I surreptitiously tried to sweep towards the door with my foot. Embarrassing….I think I too need ‘outside only’ shoes.
I have a very entertaining image in my mind of you with a broom and a chook flapping away as it inches along the branches of the tree trying to escape the brooms reach. Really looking forward to my first egg – it mustn’t be long now.
Chooks are so cute and didn’t think about the problem they might cause in the garden, I like the idea of using little cages to protect the seedlings.
My mum kept poultry when I was young, and I thought I know about chickens… as you rightly mentioned, ‘wrong’… anyway, am having a lot of fun with the two birds that we are keeping…
They are great aren’t they? We We didn’t let ours out for a couple of days then when we did we had a devil of a time trying to get them back in at night.