Chickens in the Garden: Organic Pest Control

Look to your backyard flock for the best natural pest control around. Let your birds free range and you’ll enjoy a reduction in insect pest populations — including tick control — as a nice bonus.

  • scratching chicken
    Chickens love to scratch and peck. Set your birds to work hunting and munching insect pests in your garden.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears

  • scratching chicken

Every week, we invite our Facebook fans to share their wisdom on a given topic. Invariably they post some great firsthand information. Here’s a sample confirming yet again what our readers have reported in the past — that chickens, ducks, turkeys and guineas all provide amazing organic pest control. (For more firsthand reader reports, visit the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Pest Patrol page.)  

• We moved to our new home four years ago in July and got 12 hens. The waves of grasshoppers jumping in the yard have never come back, and we have never seen a tick anywhere, despite living in the bush and having a couple of bad years of ticks in our area. The birds free range, but the garden is fenced off.Rebekah Massey 

 They definitely make a difference. Compared with our neighbors, we have far fewer insects. As an added bonus, we have all the eggs we can eat and plenty leftover to give away. As a side note, we had problems with weeds overtaking our pond. Instead of going the chemical route, we just got some ducks, and they have taken care of it.Alan Savoy 

 About the only thing they don’t eat around here is the Lubber grasshoppers. Everything else that crawls or slithers is pretty much fair game: snakes, frogs, bugs, worms and moths. They even chase the black flies when they are bored. Two of my hens love to de-flea the cats. It freaked me out at first, because I thought they were attacking the cats, but then I realized they were pecking the same spots the cats were scratching near, and the cats liked it! The kittens will actually go find a hen when they are itchy!Jessica Marnik 

 Free-range chickens definitely helped us with our tick control. We were pulling ticks off my son and husband every day before, but now only a couple ticks make it on them, and that’s usually after the boys have visited the woods.Tina Smalley 

 Our chickens are doing wonders as organic pest control. I haven’t seen a tick since we turned them out. But, oh my, do they love my flower beds.Greedith Butler 

11/15/2015 11:34:45 PM

Has anyone built a, "chicken tunnel" in their gardens to control insects? I recently inherited some quail and would like to loose them in lieu of the chickens in our garden tunnel.

3/21/2013 5:59:00 PM

This makes total sense! The use of predatory animals as a means of organic pest control is not new by any stretch of the imagination, but this school of though is not propagated enough! It is so simple to introduce predators into an environment abundant with prey.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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