When you hear the words “pest control,” chickens may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, chickens are actually a great form of natural pest control; once released in an outdoor space, they immediately begin eating any insects they can find. In addition, they scratch away at the soil to get at the bugs that are not immediately visible. If you are interested in using chickens to control the pest population in your garden, there are a few things you should know.
Chickens can be destructive.
Chickens should never have free reign over your garden. Because they can dig down several inches in the ground, they could destroy your space in a relatively short period of time. Therefore, build a fence around your plants and allow the chickens to roam on the garden’s perimeters. As you tend your plants, throw any bugs you find out to your feathered friends to eat.
Just before the sun goes down, allow the chickens to enter the garden for 30 minutes to an hour. They should focus on finding and eating pests, so the damage to your plants will be minimal. If you have a problem, however, you may need to keep your chickens just outside the garden and continue to handpick bugs to feed them.
Chickens eat a number of different pests.
Chickens consume a variety of different bugs, including beetles, slugs and grasshoppers. In addition, they also target ticks, so adding a chicken to your household could cut back on how many of these pests you and your family members have to deal with on a daily basis. Basically, if there’s a bug that you don’t want hanging around your plants, the chances are good that your chickens will eat it.
Chickens aren’t your only natural pest control option.
Chickens are not the only birds that can provide natural pest control, although they are generally the most popular. Ducks can also be used; they respond to direction a little better than chickens and are particularly adept at hunting slugs. Ducks aren’t as destructive as chickens, either, because they aren’t as likely to dig in the ground and disturb the plants. Some gardeners have also found success with guinea fowl; these birds expertly get rid of ticks and have proven themselves to be a formidable foe against insects of all shapes and sizes.
There will be times when you encounter a bug problem that requires the skills of a pest control technician. However, when it comes to your garden, it is important to find natural ways of keeping your plants bug-free. Chickens are one option, but if they don’t work for you, remember that there are a number of other organic pest control methods available.
Image Credit: Jen Zajac, courtesy flickr