Oh gosh I hope that ends up happening here on our end. We just bought a place with nine acres and plan on getting chickens... even though we have an outside cat that brings us robin legs and squirrel tails on a regular basis.
A cat with chicken friends-there's nothing like a dose of cute.
Hi, thanks for the blog. I've learned so much! We recently got chicks, and are hoping to let them run around the garden to eat the earwigs. Two friends have told me conflicting things... one said they won't bother plants unless they're seedlings. Another said the chickens will eat everything. Growing up, our chickens stayed in the coop so we never tried them in the garden. Have you? Thanks!
Hi Simplelemonade,My apologies for taking so long to get back to you. We're fairly new to free ranging chickens, but from what I can tell, what damage chickens do or don't do depends a lot on how much space they have.For example, if they're confined to a small grassy area in a movable chicken tractor, they'll scratch and eat it down to bare earth in just a few days. If you move the tractor every day, though, they really won't do any damage to the grass - they'll just eat the bugs and maybe some of the greenery.Right now we have 10 chickens who spend all day long roaming around loose on about an acre, which comprises the farmyard (basically a giant lawn), the yard around The Shack, and the grassy area in front of those two spots where we park the car, etc.So far, you really can't tell they're out there. It's also peak bug/growing season, so there's lots of easy food for them to find - they aren't scratching up every square inch of ground in search of bugs or seeds.That said, I'm doing my best to keep them out of the adjacent kitchen garden! Tuffy and Cheeky - who have been out for months - both sneak in there during the day, and so far I haven't seen any damage, but I've heard horror stories of chickens pecking up all the tomatoes in the garden, etc. They do love to scratch up bare earth, so any newly seeded bed would be fair game to them. And of course they love earthworms - which I work hard to get and keep in the soil. ;)Lots of people have chickens running around their backyards, and I'm sure it depends on the size and what's growing there. We're also pretty laid back about landscaping damage - what with Bert and Bear on the Mole Patrol and all. The other thing to keep in mind is that chickens poop quite a bit, so a small space may quickly fill up with waste. :)I hope this helps. Best of luck with your new chicks!
January 2013 update: Hi! I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!Hi! Thanks for visiting Farmgirl Fare and taking the time to write. While I'm not always able to reply to every comment, I receive and enjoy reading them all.Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and I especially love hearing about your experiences with my recipes. Comments on older posts are always welcome!Please note that I moderate comments, so if I'm away from the computer it may be a while before yours appears.I try my best to answer all questions, though sometimes it takes me a few days. And sometimes, I'm sorry to say, they fall through the cracks, and for that I sincerely apologize.If you're waiting for a reply to your comment and have a Blogger profile (it's free to create one) you can check the NOTIFY ME box that is below and receive all follow up comments to just this specific post via email.I look forward to hearing from you and hope you enjoy your e-visits to our farm!