How to Manage Chickens in the Garden

Learn how you can prevent chickens from destroying your garden with these easy tips through partitioning or the use of fruit cages.

| November 2015

  • While hens can be great yard friends and perform very useful insect-clearing duties, they will also run wild through precious herbaceous borders and vegetable beds.
    Image courtesy Quarry Books
  • Whether you’re a newcomer or an old hand, “The Chicken Keeper’s Problem Solver” provides the information you need to nip problems in the bud - and, better still, to avoid them in the first place.
    Cover courtesy Quarry Books

Keeping chickens isn’t rocket science, but doing it properly does involve decent levels of understanding, commitment, and attention to detail. Getting the basics right is essential, and The Chicken Keeper’s Problem Solver (Quarry Books, 2015) by Chris Graham contains 100 common problems faced by chicken keepers, spelling out in clear and simple terms the underlying causes and offering practical solutions.

Buy this book from the Capper’s Farmer store: The Chicken Keeper’s Problem Solver.


Chickens, if not prevented from doing so, will happily scratch and peck their way through herbaceous borders and vegetable patches, and they’ll do it surprisingly quickly, too!


Most breeds of chicken can be very destructive if allowed to roam freely through a yard, and they will have no respect for specimen shrubs, rare plants, or a neatly tended cabbage patch. They will simply eat whatever they like, given the opportunity. If you want to protect special plants and vegetables from free-ranging chickens, your only options are to control the activity of the birds, or to protect individual plants and borders. Creating a “no-bird” zone is the most effective, assuming you can keep your feathered friends out. Don’t forget that a determined chicken with rich pickings on its mind can flutter high enough to get over most low fences and hedges, so any partitioning will need to be fairly serious (at least 6.ft/2m high). Clipping the birds’ wings may be the easiest solution, as long as you’re not intending to exhibit them. Alternatively, you can make or buy fruit cages to fit over fruit bushes and vegetable plots; this will be relatively easy to do if you grow in raised beds. However, don’t forget the benefits of allowing your hens to pick over your vegetable beds at the end of the season. They’ll relish the chance to get at the resident insect life, and will effectively clear weeds and fertilize as they go. Some keepers even contain their birds for a day or two on each bed, to ensure a thorough going-over.

Scratching Behavior

If you are worried about the hen damage to precious flower beds, then take some care with breed choice to limit the potential for damage. As a general rule, the feather-legged breeds tend to scratch less than those with clean legs; bantams, too, tend to be less destructive than large fowl.



February 15-16, 2020
Belton, Texas

Join us in the Lone Star state to explore ways to save money and live efficiently. This two-day event includes hands-on workshops and a marketplace featuring the latest homesteading products.


Subscribe today

Capper's FarmerWant to rediscover what made grandma’s house the fun place we all remember? Capper’s Farmer — the newly restored publication from the rural know-how experts at — updates the tried-and-true methods your grandparents used for cooking, crafting, gardening and so much more. Subscribe today and discover the joys of homemade living and homesteading insight — with a dash of modern living — that makes up the new Capper’s Farmer.

Save Even More Money with our automatic renewal savings plan!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $6 and get 4 issues of Capper's Farmer for only $16.95 (USA only).

Or, Bill Me Later and I'll pay just $22.95 for a one year subscription!

Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds

click me