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chickens working on the homestead

 
steward & author
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Chickens are more than just a source of egg.  They have many other jobs on the homestead.

Usually, I just fork over the weeds between the young berry bushes, but this year I was feeling lazy.  So today I put up a bit of fence and put my retirement flock (chickens that are either too old or recovering from injury or just don't know how to be mean) in the garden.  They will dig up most of the weeds and bugs so that I only need to do a light raking of the soil to plant my chickpeas.

What else are your chooks doing to help out around the homestead?
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I deep mulch my goose shelter because part of it doubles as sitting duck nest areas. Every so often I lock a pair of chickens in there for the day so that they will stir up the top layers of bedding searching for worms which also aerates and rotates the bedding to help it decompose. The geese just aren't into digging the way chickens are!
 
Posts: 61
Location: Europe - CZ, Pannonian / continental zone
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I use my flock  (13 chickens + 1 cock) to free-range in my vineyard (1/4 acre) in the cool season of the year, e.g. from grape harvest (September) to leave sprout (April). They eat all the grass, scratch and spread all the woodchips, old leaves  and compost heaps I place there during the summer and drop their manure there also..
 
r ranson
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These chickens like guarding the house.  They let us know if there are intruders of the sky-monster or new-human kind.
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pollinator
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We had the tree service come through clearing power lines in our area this fall and I got loads of wood chips from them. I used the bucket on the tractor to dump piles across one section of my garden that I am going to try the wood chip weed control method on. Rather than using a fork or rake to spread out the pile I've been sprinkling scratch grains on them and my free range flock has almost evened out the whole garden.

Another plot that we have had trouble getting the grass under control on is going to be occupied by 30 birds in about 6-8 weeks. I ordered a "Frypan Special" from Purely Poultry and I am going to try fencing them in on that plot to have them scratch it clean of vegetation and fertilize it for corn planting. Last fall I ran 30 Cornish Cross in a tractor over my yard. I'm really looking forward to seeing what it looks like this spring when it starts growing.
 
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Here's a photo of my garden. Recently chicken-tractored bed in the front, and chickens in their dome in the background.



I wrote a bit about my chicken tractored circular garden beds here: https://thenourishinghearthfire.com/2020/01/04/the-joy-of-circular-vegetable-gardening-with-chickens/

I really enjoy this way of gardening. The chickens get rid of weeds and slugs, they spread mulch and manure the garden, and everything grows really well.
 
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Our chickens love to help with the compost.



 
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Location: Manotick (Ottawa), Ontario
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Kate Downham wrote:Here's a photo of my garden. Recently chicken-tractored bed in the front, and chickens in their dome in the background.

I really enjoy this way of gardening. The chickens get rid of weeds and slugs, they spread mulch and manure the garden, and everything grows really well.


I'm envious. I'd been looking forward to having a few chickens again after I retired, but my wife is so adamantly against it that I'm afraid I'll only have it as a dream, while I do all gardening by myself, without help from feathered critters. 😐
 
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Working, or getting in the way of me working? Hard to tell with a chicken!!

Chicken tractor?
 
pollinator
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My chickens have been keeping the yard mostly tick-free.  In the past I’ve used them to clean up garden beds while confined to a chicken tractor, and I’m getting ready now to use them to prepare a new garden area.  They are extremely useful critters to have around!

 
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Location: Minneapolis, MN
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My chickens like to inspect our work in the garden, especially if there is a hole being dug.

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I have posted this one several times but I will try to get a picture of their current assignment which is removing the cleavers from the grass in the orchard. They eat the chick weed and cleavers first before the grass. The cleavers will climb up the trees and stick to my garments as I try to pull them out and once the seeds start they stick to me and anything passing by to spread everywhere.
 
pollinator
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Location: NW Montana, USA
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Eggs, eggs, eggs, plus babies, babies, babies.  Which means meat and income!   That right there is worth it!  But we've had an unexpected boon from the biddies this winter.  They thoroughly pick apart all of the pig poop, nibbling out all the grass seeds they pass from their hay.  The hay feeds the pigs, the pigs feed the chickens!  Our pig areas are unbelievably cleaner than they were last winter, when the birds were penned all winter long.  And we have twice as many pigs now, too!  And they're reproducing!  I let the birds free-range this winter, crossing fingers against predation, but we haven't had any predation since we got our LGD.  Woohoo!  
With 6 months of snow, the pig poop starts to build up and get noticeable.  They won't venture out into the forest and pack trails, they stay close to shelter and load concentrated areas with poop.  I'm loving this symbiotic relationships they have goin' on.  I don't enjoy watching it in action.  But I love the results!
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They pick up after the piglets
They pick up after the piglets
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And they pick up after the adults, too!
And they pick up after the adults, too!
 
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Location: GA
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Before they were laying, our girls would keep the dog warm;)
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Jay Angler
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I was asked to post this here:

What do you get if you cross a chicken with a cement mixer?

A brick layer!

There is a tangential bit of truth to this: I have two chickens that are referred to as "Miss Dickens, because they are both "chickens" that live in the "Duck" shelter having been rejected by their flocks. The duck run is desperate for a second layer of big rocks along its north border to keep their deep mulch in place. Trying to get these "as heavy as I can roll, tip, emplace" rocks into the run and positioned with the two Miss Dickens under my feet has been a major struggle and I worry they're going to get flattened into a brick if they're not more careful! I've managed to get 5 of the most critical 8 rocks to the run, although number 5 isn't in its final spot as I ran out of strength. If I can do 3-4 a day, the job will get done.
 
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Location: Just south of Dallas Texas
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I use my flock to keep the root flares on my fruit trees clear and exposed.
I throw a bit of scratch feed at the base of a tree whenever it looks like it needs a bit of exposure and they do the work. The added bonus is they keep the weeds removed, the soil loose, and add fertilizer.
 
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