Are Chickens Good For the Garden?

Backyard chickens certainly look idyllic. But for avid gardeners, are chickens good for the garden? It’s no simple question indeed. 

Chickens come in a variety of breeds, personalities, and temperaments– as do gardens. And all of these factors impact how well you and these peckish poultry will get along. 

If you’re considering adding fresh eggs and clucking companions to your garden repertoire, there’s a few questions and considerations to make before embarking on this feathery project. 

What to Consider when Contemplating Chickens


First and foremost, if you want to have chickens, you need to have space. Chickens are active little creatures who enjoy scratching in the dirt, taking dust baths, and running amok. Happy chickens have plenty of room to do their chicken stuff. 

Another aspect of “space” is how you are using your space. Is your yard a quaint city lot filled with carefully tended flower beds? Then chickens may be a little rambunctious for your style. Have a yard that you want to maximize your food productivity on, regardless of style? Chickens may be your best companion for maintaining a pest-free garden!


Chickens are surprisingly low maintenance–but low maintenance is not no maintenance. Adding chickens to your backyard will add an additional daily chore or two. Each day chickens need feed, water, and fresh bedding (depending on what method you use). 

Quarterly, coops should be checked for signs of attempted break-ins. Predators like racoons, coyotes, and foxes will have all eyes on your chicken coops. Be sure to spend time creating a safe coop and run, and check regularly to make sure your chickens are staying safe. 

Depending on what method of chicken bedding you use, Bedding will need to be removed from the coop once a week, or twice a year. (For more details on what we’re talking about, keep reading!) 

Will Chickens Ruin my Garden? 

Chickens are omnivores who love to scratch, dig, and play around. Fortunately, this means they love to eat pesky bugs and weeds that may cause havoc on your garden. They also make great fertilizers by dropping nitrogen-loaded poo into your garden soil. 

Unfortunately, this poo is so strong, it can cause nitrogen burn to plants, and their lack of snacking discernment may mean they gobble up seedlings that were meant for your garden. 

But not to despair! With a little time and creativity, these poultry-problems are avoidable, and the power of the chicken can be harnessed to your advantage. *sunglasses emoji* 

The best way to avoid clucky-destruction is by carefully containing your chickens, or protecting your delicate transplants. Keeping chicken wire around freshly planted seedlings, or setting up contained spaces where your chickens can roam will greatly reduce the amount of damage they can inflict. 

To maximize the power of their poo (I know, just roll with it), have chickens scratch around garden beds several weeks before you plan to plant. This allows time for the poo to breakdown and prevents nitrogen burn on your plants. 

Chickens that don’t destroy the garden 

Male chickens and Lady chickens vary in a lot more than just their looks. The personality difference of roosters and hens has a big impact on their productivity (or lack thereof) as fluffy gardeners. 

Roosters are boisterous, bold, and let’s face it, rude. We can’t blame them though, it’s how nature made them. Roosters are meant to protect and, ahem, propagate their flocks. It’s these instincts that drive roosters to be a bit over-the-top. Unless you have a larger property, somewhere all-day cock-a-doodle-doos and chicken brawls won’t disturb your neighbors, it’s probably best to keep your flock ladies-only. 

Hens, though quieter, are not necessarily lower maintenance. But this is primarily to do with the breed and the presence of chicks. Some hens can be especially territorial about chicks, pecking and fighting with other hens who try to attend their babies. They can also become “broody”, a term used to describe a hen who wants to simply sit and incubate eggs all day. 

Of course, all these traits are pretty impacted by the breed of chicken. Some breeds are naturally more inclined to aggression, flightiness, or docileness. 

Some notoriously docile hens (read: the kind you want in your garden) include Orpingtons, Rhode Island Reds, Brahma, and Yokohama hens. 

Benefits of having Chickens 

Planning to get chickens may seem daunting– after all, there is a LOT to consider and prepare. However, the benefits of having backyard chickens are numerous! 


Perhaps the most obvious reason for keeping poultry– having fresh eggs! Fresh eggs are more nutritious than store-bought eggs, and better for the environment. 

A deeper yellow yoke, and thicker eggshell, are indicative of a higher quality egg. Those from your backyard chickens are likely to have less cholesterol, higher protein, and more vitamins than store-bought eggs! 


Chickens are the ultimate composters. Not only do they love eating kitchen scraps, they also turn those scraps into black gold (and yes, I do mean “chicken poop”). The best way to capture the chicken gold is collect it straight from the coop. This way, the garden isn’t getting injected with so much nitrogen it burns the plant roots. 

The first method for manure collection is to simply change out the coop bedding every week, and add the mixture to a compost pile. Coop bedding can be straw, newspaper, or sawdust and wood chips. 

The second way to capitalize on the compost, is to only collect the bedding once or twice a year. In this method, sawdust makes the best bedding. Each week, turn the mucky bedding to aerate it, and then add a thick, fresh layer of bedding (to keep things from getting smelly). The sawdust and manure will compost right there in the coop! Bonus, this helps keep the coop warm and insulated in the wintertime. 


Our clucky friends are also fantastic at pest control. Chickens love to scratch up the soil in search of bugs, grubs, and critters that make for a great protein snack! 

Since chickens prefer tender seedlings to robust plants, Once our gardens are well-established, chickens can be trusted to forage around for slugs, beetles, and other insects that may be tempted to destroy the garden. 

Tips for Keeping Chickens 

Chicken Nutrition 

Pay attention to your chickens’ health with preventative measures. Make sure they have fresh water everyday, and try adding a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar once a week to boost their immune systems. 

Also, be sure to research what food scraps chickens can and can’t eat. One rule of thumb is remembering not to feed your chickens guacamole– that is, no avocado, citrus, garlic, or onion. It’s also a good idea to avoid letting your chickens graze around nightshade family plants such as potato, tomato, and eggplant. 

Spend Time With Your Chickens

Of course chickens are not quite like a family pet, but it is a good idea to spend time with them when they’re out grazing. 

Keeping an eye on chickens when they’re out and about lowers their risk of becoming someone else’s dinner. It also gives the gardener a chance to make sure they aren’t scratching where they’re not supposed to! 

Do Your Research! 

The most important part of being a responsible chicken keeper (just like any other garden project!) is to do your research. Read about different breeds, gadgets, and routines to find what works best for you. Be sure to prepare your chickens’ coop and run carefully, feed them nutritious foods, and make sure they get plenty of sunshine! 

Raising chickens can be an incredibly rewarding and fun experience. With some careful planning, they are a great addition to any eco-friendly garden! 

Have chickens? Want chickens? Let’s get the conversation cluckin’! Leave us a comment, or tag us in your poultry projects on Facebook and Instagram @BarefootGardenDesign

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