All around the country, more and more people are trying to eat locally sourced foods, and what’s more local than your own backyard?
It’s a philosophy that’s led people to plant vegetable gardens, grow herbs for cooking and in some cases, raising chickens.
And while chickens are a great source of eggs, they’re also very useful gardening tools. Before you go shopping for chicken feed in New Jersey, you may want to learn a few ways chickens can help your garden grow.
Writing on the blog the Prairie Homestead, free-range chicken expert Justin Rhodes lists some of the ways keeping chickens can be beneficial.
1. Composting and fertilizing
Chickens produce a lot of waste. But that’s a good thing for people looking to start a compost pile. One chicken, Rhodes notes, can produce eight pounds of manure a month, another to compost one cubic yard of leaves. He calculates that for every pound of manure you use, you’ll need 45 pounds of leaves.
A chicken can till 50 feet of established sod in about six weeks. It will take longer than a machine tiller, but if you’re thinking about your carbon footprint, keep in mind that chickens don’t run on gasoline. You should also keep in mind that chickens may peck at sod you want to preserve, so keep them fenced in away from those areas.
3. Mulch spreaders
A single chicken can level a large pile of leaf mulch within two days. Just confine your chickens around the pile, and leave them to it.
“Time to spread will depend on size of pile, material, and age of material,” writes Rhodes. “Older material will have more biota and the chickens will show more interest. If your chickens aren’t showing interest in a pile you need spread (like fresh wood chips), try spreading their feed on the pile, so they have to scratch for it.”
4. Pest control
Chickens will eat any insects, grubs or beetles that cross their path, and dig below the surface for seconds. Rhodes notes that a flock of 15 chickens on his property eliminated the bug population in a 1,700 square foot area within a week. You’ll keep your yard free of pests, and free of pesticides.
And if you have fruit trees, chickens can keep them pest-free as well. Rhodes describes how his friends ran a few chickens through his grandmother’s low-production apple orchard. “That next summer, we harvested so many apples, we’re still enjoying the applesauce!” Rhodes said.
He suggests doing this in the spring, when adult worms are laying their eggs in trees.
If you’ve just added chickens to your garden and are looking for chicken feed in New Jersey, Mendham Garden Center can help. In addition to feed, we carry fencing, posts, bedding and anything else you might need to keep your chickens safe and comfortable.
Visit us today at one of our three locations. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have as our garden reaches this interesting new phase.