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Letting the chickens loose to control the slugs population

 
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Last autumn I heavily mulched some parts of the garden with woodchips. Now it is raining a lot and I have a lot of slugs. In order to reduce the slugs population I'm thinking of letting the chickens loose in this area for a while.

Problem, I already have some mature pea plants climbing on stakes, some mature leeks and onions as well as a few young beans growing. I suspect the chickens would eat the young beans, but what about the more mature plants ? Would the chicken do them any substantial harm ?
 
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It depends... how much space do you have, and how many chickens? Most chickens (but not all!) tend to go for bugs and slugs first, and it is only when they have exhausted these that they start to have a go at the plants. So keeping an eye on them is important in getting them to just eat the slugs.

Mature plants may be nibbled- but will probably survive. Young plants could get eaten- or likely smushed- my chooks are more likely to flatten seedlings whilst digging than eat them.
 
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I have had many chickens over the years and none have been enthusiastic about eating slugs.

It really depends on the chickens and the plants. I would protect the beans with a little fence.

An alternative is to put boards out overnight for the slugs to hide under and bring the boards to the chickens in their run.
 
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Alex Apfelbaum wrote:Last autumn I heavily mulched some parts of the garden with woodchips. Now it is raining a lot and I have a lot of slugs. In order to reduce the slugs population I'm thinking of letting the chickens loose in this area for a while.

Problem, I already have some mature pea plants climbing on stakes, some mature leeks and onions as well as a few young beans growing. I suspect the chickens would eat the young beans, but what about the more mature plants ? Would the chicken do them any substantial harm ?



I expect chickens will be most interested in scratching through the wood chips and probably scratch up your plants in the process, even mature ones. Mine sneaked into my bird netted leeks this winter--I netted them specifically against my chickens--and wreaked havoc. The leeks have mostly stood back up again, thankfully.
 
Alex Apfelbaum
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It depends... how much space do you have, and how many chickens?



It's a small space of about 150 square meters (0.04 acres) and only four hens.

In the end I'm wondering if it wouldn't be easier to set up more beer traps and wooden boards, which have been quite effective in the past.
 
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I'm right downtown where we're not allow chickens, so I only let them out for the last 30-60 minutes before dusk and they go for weeds first and bugs second, though they're getting better with bugs. If they're in the garden too long, they'll get some produce. I don't mind if they take some hot peppers as I think they use them for a de-wormer. They don't always take some, and they only take a couple in total, so I'm OK with that.
 
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Like with Matu, I've had plenty of chickens through the years and they have not been slug eaters. One here and there, but generally they avoid them. But cook them in with the kitchen waste, and they'll eat everyone one. Guess it's like me in a way....give me raw oysters and I'll pass them by, but I'll eat every cooked one put on my plate.
 
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Ducks are very fond of slugs.
 
Alex Apfelbaum
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I occasionally throw a fat slug to my chickens and they jump on it and seem to like it a lot, although I don't know if they would enjoy a large quantity of them.. They seem to like diversity, it's the same when I give them a whole lettuce, they'll eat a bit, then go off to the compost and maybe come back later, etc.
 
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The chickens may go after the peas and beans. They may or may not do much damage that way. My big worry is the scratching. They can do a lot of damage in a short time with their feet. Generally chickens are uninterested in allium family plants for eating but I won't let my four girls in my garlic patch. This time of year the plants are too easily damaged.

I think if you decide to do it I'd sit around and watch them so you can intervene if needed. I do like the idea of laying down boards and bringing those to the chickens.
 
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