If you own some of our known feathered friends, consider growing a garden with and for your chickens! It comes with great advantages for you and your birds, since it assists in many ways on both sides. A garden can offer chicken feed and fresh vegetables for you. On the other side chicken can help with garden issues if you are aware how to work with them in a proper manner.
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A Garden For Your Chicken
First, we will note what a garden can give to your birds. Feeding your chickens with natural products which you grow, is a financial advantage and a good way to provide them with important nutrients. The best way to make use of this situation, is to use the veggies as a supplement combined with the regular feed you buy.
There are many types of plants which are edible for chickens, and others which are dangerous to feed them with. Therefore, it is quite crucial to make this discrimination. Let’s check these families of plants and how much of those is recommended to give to your birds.
Recommended plants for feed
First and highly recommended due to its nutrients is the Cucurbitaceae family of plants. This includes pumpkins, zucchini, melons, cucumbers, watermelons and squash. The nutrients they provide for your flock are Vitamins A, C, K any many others which are vital for their health.
Umbellifers are also pretty good for a chicken’s well-being. These are known as the aromatic plants and some examples are carrots, parsley, coriander and celery. These plants offer a high antioxidant and gastroprotectant activity to the organisms of your birds.
Another group of plants which can be quite the feed for your chicks is the Asteraceae one. Artichokes, lettuce, sunflowers, chamomile and cornflower are just some of the examples. This family is characterized by its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-tumor capacities and many other aspects. They also have pharmaceutical use!
Fourth on the list comes the very important Fabacae family, which includes cooked beans and peas. High in protein and with a good amount of calcium, they make a pretty good choice for a natural feed!
Last but not least, plants from the Poachae family can be a great addition to your garden. Such plants are corn, wheat and oats and although they might not be that high in nutrients, they help with the digestive system.
Plants to avoid
- Potatoes: When they are left in the sun they are dangerous.
- Onions: Might cause anemia and bad taste of eggs.
- Apricots: Dysfunctional breathing and low blood pressure.
- Dried or raw beans: High toxicity.
- Tomatoes: High toxicity.
- Azalea: Highly toxic and might cause problems to the heart and digestion.
- Other plants which are not recommended for your flock are: eggplants, peppers, ferns, lupine, oak trees, rhubarbs, amaryllis, boxwood, elderberry, eucalyptus, iris, ivy, nightshades and other.
Chickens For Your Garden
When you look at the matter from a different perspective, owning chicken might actually benefit your garden. Apart from the feed you can produce from it, your birds will assist on growing your plants properly. The only issue here is that you must be aware of the problems which might occur.
Chickens are pecking and digging around and if you leave them wonder freely in your garden they will definitely damage it. in order to make the best of a situation like this, you must know when is the right time to let them in there!
First of all, you must separate the garden from the chicken coop and area with barriers. These can be fences or small walls. Chicken must not have access all the time to your plants and they must be able to access it only when you decide it is the right time. If you’re interested in raising backyard chicken then check out our new guide at BackyardPets.
Instead of leaving your birds roaming in the garden you created, cut the plants and feed them in their own area. Plants have nutrients, as mentioned above, which are important to your chickens’ health and you can provide them with these without letting them in the garden.
Spring: It is the season when we prepare the garden for planting and the best time to let the chicken in! They will clear it of weeds and bugs and will dig the soil to prepare it for the coming season!
Summer: When the growing time comes, you better keep your birds out of the garden. Don’t forget though to give them the weeds you cleared of the ground.
Fall: Harvesting season can really benefit your flock. Once you are finished with gathering your veggies and fruits, you can offer them the bug-eaten ones, since they won’t mind eating them. In addition, you can let them in to pick stems and roots which are left to mix them with the soil and help with next season’s planting!
Winter: Now is the moment to gather the manure the chickens produce to use it in the spring as a fertilizer for your plants. It must be aged at least three months before you use it.
Apart from the chickens themselves, their eggs can be proven really useful when growing plants. Mix eggshells with the soil in the fall, so that it will absorb all the nutrients which are essential! As a fertilizer, they add calcium, phosphorus, potassium and nitrogen to the growing plants!
Furthermore, eggshells can become a wonderful choice to seed starters. As this was not enough, they also can be used against pests like snails and slugs, because when they crawl on the shells they end up getting hurt and perish.
Growing a garden with the company of your flock can be a tricky but also rewarding and refreshing experience. There are many ways for them to co-exist and benefit each other. You can decorate the coop, the chicken run and the garden with stones, flowers and statues and make the scenery look like a fairy land! Plant trees to create shade for you and the birds and a bench to sit and observe them while they walk around the garden!