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I don’t wanna be a nugget!

By now we’ve learned that getting started with chickens can be easy as 1, 2, 3 and how much happier local free range eggs are compared to factory farmed eggs. In this post we want to talk about the birds themselves and the benefits they can bring to your range.

chicken_compostInsect Control: This is a big one. After Old Man Winter dies, the bugs come alive. This is like heaven for chickens. After the winter we’ve had, it’s likely that our chickens spent a lot of the time inside their coops to stay warm. If this is the case, the chickens are in for a treat once spring hits.

It doesn’t matter what the bugs are. Adults, larval and eggs are fair game when it comes to what chickens get excited about. They will spend hours digging up worms in your compost pile, are great for controlling flies, and according to Mother Earth News will help control the mosquito and tick population.

Weed Control: Like a lot of animals, chickens love leafy greens. This can be a detriment if you let them loose in your garden while your veggies are busy producing, but by providing them with weed greens or letting them roam in an area that is weedy can be a benefit to you. The really nice thing about chickens is something they like as much as leafy greens are weed seeds! That’s right, they will pick out the weed seeds wherever they’re allowed to roam.

At the end of the summer gardening season when all you’ve got left are the remains of your plants, allow your chickens to eat them up! They’ll not only love eating the leafy greens and remains of your garden, they’ll peck away at the leftover vegetation, bugs and weeds, essentially cleaning up your garden for the following spring. You can also let them roam in the early spring as the weeds are beginning to sprout, benefitting you with organic weed control.

Composting: If you’ve got a good compost pile going, let the chickens range it. Not only will they scratch it to find the bugs, they’ll find and devour the weed seeds AND add the fertilizer component to your compost. Be sure to mix in the poo after the chickens have roamed so you remove any hot spots the could do damage to your plants.

So all this talk about baby chicks, eggs and now the birds themselves could have you excited to add some new birds to your flock this spring. While this is perfectly acceptable, there are a few things that you need to take note of before you combine babies with an already established flock. We’ll go over this in the next edition of Backyard Chickens so stay tuned!