Construct a Chicken Moat for Effective Garden Pest Control

Construct a chicken moat for effective garden pest control. Surround your garden with this double-fenced chicken run to keep bugs at bay.


| May/June 1988



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Let chickens take over your garden pest control efforts with this innovative "chicken moat."


ILLUSTRATION: DON OSBY

This protective enclosure for the garden uses chickens as an effective garden pest control along with a moat to protect your crops. 

Construct a Chicken Moat for Effective Garden Pest Control

A chicken moat is not a waterway, but it does provide a protective enclosure for the garden. Weeds, insects, rabbits, ground hogs and even deer are barred from entry by the double wall of fencing and the ever-diligent patrol flock. All in all, it’s a clever solution to the fowl raiser’s dilemma of whether to fence the birds or the garden: Fence both!

In days gone by, rulers of kingdoms would protect themselves by ordering a few thousand serfs to build a moat around the family castle. With the current shortage of serfs, the practice has fallen out of favor. However, when faced with that classic country conundrum, "Do I fence the garden or the chickens?" I decided to make a modern adaptation of that medieval practice. I fenced both fowl and crops—with a chicken moat.

My moat is simply a strip of dry land, enclosed by two parallel fences, which surrounds my family's garden. Throughout the day, the hen patrol moves all around the garden (but never in it), munching on all those things hens love: weeds, seeds, worms, tiny pieces of stones and (best of all) bugs.

The chicken moat provides a clean edge around the garden, keeping down the migration of unwanted grasses, weeds and insects into our plot. (Two years ago, when our neighbor's garden was nearly devastated by grasshoppers, our hens gorged themselves on the invading horde and saved our plot.) The double line of defense discourages most possums, ground hogs and rabbits from trying to harvest free vegetables. Deer can easily clear a single tall fence, but they can't find enough room in the six-foot-wide moat to gather themselves for a second leap. And we've quit losing hens to hawks since the moat was constructed—those raptors avoid the potential entrapment of two fences so close together.

If you wish to construct a moat yourself, I offer the following suggestions:

tom pendleton
10/15/2017 8:53:45 PM

Tom Pendleton Actually, chickens can be in the garden but will need another gate..., except when young sprouts are coming up and when tomatoes, etc are ripe (which a small temp fence around the tomatoes helps). Chickens in the garden eat pests that may fly over moat and leave good fertilizer for free.


thospend
10/15/2017 8:53:42 PM

Tom Pendleton Actually, chickens can be in the garden..., except when young sprouts are coming up and when tomatoes, etc are ripe (which a small temp fence around the tomatoes works. Chickens in the garden eat pests that may fly over moat and leave good fertilizer for free.


lester carlson
7/23/2009 1:37:41 PM

That is sure a clever idea!!!!!!


nancy saucier
3/18/2009 6:17:55 PM

Genius! What an awesome idea for making two tasks (gardening and raising chickens) work hand in hand. Hoping to move to the country soon, so have printed this article for safekeeping.


nancy saucier
3/18/2009 6:16:14 PM

Genius! What an awesome idea for making two tasks (gardening and raising chickens) work hand in hand. Hoping to move to the country soon, so have printed this article for safekeeping.


jennifer_2
12/1/2008 12:28:39 PM

We had the same problem our first chicken! First, chickens older than 6-8 months are often very tough. Second, age the meat. We did this in our refrigerator by processing the chicken on one day, usually on the weekend, and putting it into containers. We then rinsed it 5-7 days later and froze what we wanted to keep. This aging helps A LOT! Hope this helps!


alan jones_1
11/19/2008 6:45:05 AM

Does anybody have any suggestions for cooking home raised chickens? We tried our first last Sunday, but it was too tough to eat!






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