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General questions on fowl and recommended books.

 
Rusty Bowman
Posts: 134
Location: Idaho
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The earwigs are wrecking havoc on my garden...and I notice the rollie pollies (pill bugs, slaters, etc) are chowing down on some of my stuff too.

I like the idea of introducing chickens --or any other fowl that could produce good eggs-- into my yard. Questions:

-am I correct to assume fowl will eat the earwigs, even though they are nocturnal?
-is there any species that won't eat the young crops/seedlings when roaming? I'm open to any kind of bird.
-living in town (~100'x100' lot), the birds would need to be contained to my yard and specific sections at that. I hate to have all my fencing high though  (existing is 6-7' tall). Could I get away with some fencing in the 3'-4' tall range?
-lastly, which books on the subject are recommended? Though we had chickens on the farm, little attn was paid to them, i.e., my knowledge on the subject is thin.

Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks,
rusty
 
Leah Sattler
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are you sure that the roly polies are eating your stuff? they generally only like things that are decaying already not fresh plants. they are generally our helpers when it comes down to breaking down plant material into soil. maybe you have some over zealous ones!

I dont' know for sure that earwigs are tasty to chickens. they don't like some bugs for sure in my experience. they will scratch up and find many bugs and slugs that are hiding during the day.
 
Rusty Bowman
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Location: Idaho
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Thank you for your reply, Leah.

I've seen so many bugs in the last few days, my mind's in a haze. Can't remember which plants the rollie pollies were dining on (I think my basil or zucchini) but I came to the conclusion that they are indeed helping themselves. However, the primary and real menace in my garden is the earwig . Being preoccupied with other projects around the place, I haven't taken the proactive approach that I should have. So, I guess until I come up with an alternative, I'll be smashing them at night, dusting w/ dia earth and setting out beer and oil traps.

Your comment about earwigs not being tasty to chickens is exactly what I was wondering last night at 11:00 PM while smashing them with my gloved fingers. They stink so badly, I can't imagine they'd taste good to anything. But then again, stinking and decaying carcasses seem to be popular with dogs so why not earwigs to chickens?!

Before I get too deep into fowl research, can someone confirm the chickens taste for earwigs?
 
paul wheaton
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Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I've always thought that chickens eat all bugs.  I suspect that they would eat earwigs.  I can't think of a reason why they wouldn't.

As for the nocturnal aspect:  suppose you have some leaf litter on the ground.  I can picture a lot of earwigs there under the leaf litter during the day and the chickens turning it over to eat all the bugs.

is there any species that won't eat the young crops/seedlings when roaming? I'm open to any kind of bird.


Dunno.  But I do know that if your chickens are in an area where they have eaten all the bugs and they have lots of greenery, then they are powerfully bug hungry.  Then turn them loose in your garden an hour or two before sunset.  They will race through, eat the bugs and then go back to the coop to roost for the night.

living in town (~100'x100' lot), the birds would need to be contained to my yard and specific sections at that. I hate to have all my fencing high though  (existing is 6-7' tall). Could I get away with some fencing in the 3'-4' tall range?


With heavy breeds like buff orpingtons you can have the shorter fencing. 


lastly, which books on the subject are recommended? Though we had chickens on the farm, little attn was paid to them, i.e., my knowledge on the subject is thin.


Ooof.  I have read a lot of books and I don't like most of them.  Maybe there are some newer books that talk about raising chickens in the city.  For raising a hundred or more, I would recommend salatin's book.  I do want to say that I am completely against the chicken tractor stuff.  If you read through this forum, you will find my rants about how I think chickens should be raised, including in the city.




 
Leah Sattler
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chickens definitly won't eat all bugs at my house. I don't recall the stinky earwigs but squash buts certainly stink when you squish them. maybe if they were starving. I am curious about the earwigs. mine won't eat squash bugs or potato beetles at least not as adult insects, they may eat the nymphs.  that is one of those things that gets constantly repeated in books and articles that I have found just isnt' true, like so many other things..... wishful thinking I suppose. they may eat all the bugs some people have in their garden but not all bugs in all gardens.  I have even found some reference to pesticides not working on squash bugs even though everything says they do. I kill all squash bugs and crush all eggs I can find. the earwigs, being nocturnal, will be a little harder to take that approach to. maybe you could lay a board down and entice them to spend the day their so  you can find them and squish them?
 
paul wheaton
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Good point!  There are a few bugs that chickens don't eat. 

And I know that some folks get ducks to eat more slugs and guinea fowl to eat ticks and some other things.

 
Leah Sattler
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guineas supposedly are better bug eaters than chickens. I only had them for a short while, not long enough to really assess them. they were too noisy for me. they don't scratch like chickens do and dont' eat plants. I have been contemplating getting a few more now that my garden is a wee bit farther from the house.
 
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