Gardening With Chickens for Fantastic Natural Pest Control

Chickens in the garden devour any insect that moves, including grasshoppers, Colorado potato beetles, slugs and more. If you don’t trust chickens to roam among your vegetable and flower beds, feed them captured insects by hand.

  • Photo by Pixabay/byrev
  • Roaming chickens will make frequent checks of garden refuse piles, pecking up every aphid and slug.
    Illustration By Elayne Sears

This article is part of our Organic Pest Control Series, which includes articles on attracting beneficial insects, controlling specific garden pests, and using organic pesticides.

How Do Chickens Control Pests?

Chickens in the garden quickly get to work eating any insect that moves. Then they scratch into the soil to eat more insects and larvae. In this way, chickens confined to an enclosure can be employed to clean permanent beds of insects between plantings. You can also set up chickens in the garden so that they patrol the garden’s perimeter, nabbing grasshoppers, Colorado potato beetles, and other insects before they make it into the garden. These and similar strategies help preserve populations of ground beetles and other beneficial garden insects, and avoid unwanted deposits of fresh chicken manure in veggie beds.

Which Pests Do Chickens Control?

Most living insects are of interest to foraging chickens. Even if you do not allow your chickens in the garden, they will eat most live insects gathered by hand, including asparagus beetlesColorado potato beetles and larvae, grasshoppers, slugs, and Japanese beetles. When you decide to get rid of squash plagued with squash bugs or beans infested with Mexican bean beetles, dumping the plants in the chicken yard will result in few survivors. Chickens are also useful in reducing the number of ticks present in many rural homesteads. Should you bring in spoiled hay to use as mulch, or compost with an unknown history, you can let your chickens remove slugs, snails, weed seeds and other unwanted stowaways before using it in your garden.

9/23/2013 1:28:09 PM

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