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Chickens and young trees

 
gardener
Posts: 1047
Location: Northern Italy
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I have some chickens that go out once a day before nightfall and dig around along a strip of trees, which is great because they keep the grass away.

But the trees are young. It doesn't seem to be a problem at the moment for the roots.

The only problem is that the leaf buds are about beak-high. I'm imagining that in the spring they'll take out the young leaves.

Any thoughts on that?
Thanks,
William
 
pollinator
Posts: 754
Location: Porter, Indiana
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How many trees are you looking to protect? If it's only a small number, you could make tree protectors from recycled gutter covers.

About a minute into this video.
 
William James
gardener
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Location: Northern Italy
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About 50. Probably too many. One option is taking them away from there while the leaves are developing. That means some more fencing for another patch, but it would work.
W
 
steward
Posts: 1191
Location: Torrey, UT; 6,840'/2085m; 7.5" precip; 125 frost-free days
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The chickens haven't bothered any of our new trees (200 in the area they forage in). I don't see that tree leaves are anywhere close to a preferred food. There's a ton for them to eat otherwise and they help mightily on grasshopper and earwig control. Alfalfa, clover, those plants do get eaten, especially in early spring.
I'd say try it and observe closely the first few days. Maybe plant some goodies to emerge a couple weeks before turning them loose. The trees should have a good growth spurt that will put them out of harm's way rather quickly.

Now geese, that's another story. They will "bill" a tree to death just for the entertainment.
 
pollinator
Posts: 1602
Location: northern California
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I've found that chickens are much more likely to disturb the roots of young trees by digging than eating leaves or buds. Scraps of fencing laid flat on the ground around them, or piles of sticks and brush, are a good and usually free deterrent to the scratching. Once the trees are over your head it shouldn't be much of a problem.
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