Chicken-Scratched Flood Channel

Chickens provide a cheap source of labor for these Florida-based homesteaders.

| April/May 2014

  • Hungry chickens built this drainage channel peck by peck.
    Photo by Kelly McCormick

We live in Southwest Florida, and our raised-bed garden lies in a flood plain. Every year our pond floods, so we decided to create a flood channel that leads straight to the garden. Dug by hand? No — dug by chicken.

We put out corn and scratch grains in a path to the garden, and after about a year, the chickens had dug a nice, deep flood channel. Floods wash in fresh nutrients, and for the first several months of the gardening season we don’t need to water, because the ground is already nicely saturated.

We also keep rescued waterfowl in a secure enclosure at night with a 30-gallon kiddie pool full of water. We dump the manure-infused water into the flood channel to be carried straight to our garden.

Kelly McCormick
Duette, Florida

To avoid the slight risk of transferring pathogens to your food supply, you should only apply water containing fresh manure during a season when food crops are absent, or use the water in your orchard. — MOTHER

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