Chickens and geese aren’t just a great homestead food source. You can start using chickens and geese in the garden to help you create a bountiful harvest each year! And, if you’ve ever wanted to start raising geese, this is a great excuse for you to dive right in this year. Especially weeder geese!
We first started using chickens in our garden on our half-acre homestead a few years ago. One of the things I absolutely despised doing was garden clean up at the end of each season. When I realized I could turn the chickens loose and have them do a lot of the clean up for me, I was in heaven.
Chickens for the garden — you’d think that it’s counterproductive, but actually, we use them for more than just garden clean up.
Using Chickens to Till and Fertilize Your Garden
You can start using chickens in the garden during the winter months, through early spring. Simply house them in a chicken tractor and move their living space every few days. This deposits their wonderful manure onto the dirt, and is literally like pouring compost onto your garden area, without all the work! Just make sure you take them off of the garden at least a month before you decide to start planting. Chicken manure is a hot manure and needs time to cure.
We can’t wait to do this on our new property this coming winter. At our new property, we have about quadruple the size garden we had on the half-acre homestead. This will allow us to start using chickens on the tilled soil all winter long. It creates less work for us hauling manure in the spring. Hello, brand new top soil! And less work making sure the soil is aerated before we plant.
A chicken’s natural instinct is to peck and scratch at the ground. This causes the soil to naturally become aerated. While pecking and scratching and, well, doing the “doodie” — chickens are truly a key component to a stress free, well fertilized garden. Better yet, they will till a new garden space for you in no time, and keep your current garden space weed free through winter and spring!
While it’s beneficial having chickens for the garden, it’s not very wise to let them help you weed the garden during months when your plants are germinating and producing. I found this out the hard way one year when my chickens had a smorgasbord with tomatoes, cucumbers, and more in the garden. Oops! I guess everyone wanted a snack! Lots of little chicken beak pecks later, and needless to say, I lost a lot of produce!
Using Geese to Weed Your Garden
I’m most excited about using geese in the garden this year. Did you know that some breeds of geese are natural weeders? That’s right, some breeds naturally pick weeds and other plant material out of gardens and garden beds without ever touching your flowers and produce. We call them weeder geese.
We welcomed two little (which won’t be so little, soon) Brown Chinese Geese to our homestead this year. They are the sweetest things you ever did see (for now). We mainly got them as guard geese for our meat birds that will be pasture ranging on the property. But I’m also really excited to start using geese in the garden.
Geese typically love to eat grass. They keep their heads down and munch away. This is great for the garden that loves to grow grass in-between rows. Geese will also weed out broadleaf plants, but they normally go for grass first.
Now, keep in mind that geese are birds too, which means that it’s not unlikely for them to steal a taste of produce every now and then. They can also get confused when your garden plants are small.
Geese are best used when your plants are large and thriving. They can easily maneuver between rows and munch grass down at record speeds.
A Quick Recap on Using Chickens and Geese in the Garden
Start using chickens in the garden to:
- Till a new garden space
- Keep an old garden space aerated
- Add manure to your garden
- Easily finish garden clean up
- Use chickens from late fall through early spring
Start using geese in the garden to:
- Weed grass and broadleaf weeds
- Weed between rows and plants
- Manure the garden space while they weed
- Use geese from late spring through early fall
- And if they are horrible weeders, use them as guard geese!
You might notice that chickens and geese have different uses during different seasons. The best part is that you can start using chickens and geese in your garden, together! In the late fall, winter, and early spring, your chickens can take care of the garden. In the late spring, summer, and early fall, it’s time to start using geese in the garden! You’ll have poultry and waterfowl at work in your garden all year long so that you can sit back and enjoy a little more relaxation!
NEW Homesteader’s Special Available in 2020 from McMurray Hatchery
McMurray Hatchery is proud to partner with Homesteaders across the country, and support more sustainable lifestyles, by offering our new
Homesteaders’ Special. Our Homesteaders’ Special makes it easier to raise your own flock for meat and eggs:
- Register as a Homesteader by calling (800) 456-3280
- Purchase a minimum of 350 birds per year
- Choose your savings: 20% OFF OR 60-DAY TERMS!