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  • Writer's pictureStronger Roots



•The chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus) is a domesticated subspecies of the red junglefowl originally from SE Asia.

•Considered Poultry which are domesticated birds kept for their meat, eggs and feathers.

•Estimated the domestication of chickens happened around 8,000 years ago

•Main features that differentiate it from most other birds is its comb and two wattles. The comb is the red appendage on the top of the head, and the wattles are the two appendages under the chin. These are secondary sexual characteristics and are more prominent in the male

•BREEDS overview

-There are approx. 175 varieties of chickens grouped into 12 classes and approx. 60 breeds. A class is a group of breeds originating in the same geographical area. The names themselves indicate the region where the breeds originated.

-Breed means a group which possesses a given set of physical features, such as body shape, skin color, and number of toes. Variety is a category of breed and is based on feather color, comb, or presence of a beard and muff


-Rooster or cock is a term for an adult male bird; a male that has been castrated is a capon.

-An adult female bird is called a hen and a sexually immature female is called a pullet.

-•Adult chickens have a fleshy crest on their heads called a comb. Both the adult male and female have combs, but in most breeds these are more prominent in males with the males crown being significantly larger.

•Hens Go Broody - Broodiness is the action or behavioral tendency to sit on a clutch of eggs to incubate them (the hen maintains the nest at a constant temperature and humidity, as well as turning the eggs regularly during the first part of the incubation.) Cornish, Cochin, and Silkie breeds go through regular Brooding

•Chickens are gregarious (Social) birds and live together in flocks. They have a “it takes a village” approach to the incubation of eggs and raising chicks. Individual chickens in a flock will dominate others, establishing a "pecking order” with dominant individuals having priority for food access and nesting locations

•Chickens are omnivores In the wild, they often scratch at the soil to search for seeds, insects and even animals as large as lizards, small snakes, or sometimes young mice

•Chickens live 5-10 years

•In the United States alone, more than 8 billion chickens are slaughtered each year for meat, and more than 300 million chickens are reared for egg production - 74% of chickens produced for meat (broilers) and 68% of chickens produced for eggs (layer hens) are raised in Factory Farms

Uses in the garden

1.)providing nitrogen for your compost pile

-chickens produce approximately 8lbs of manure a month ; enough to compost a cubic yard of leaves

-Chicken Manure has a Carbon:Nitrogen (C:N) of anywhere from 6:1 to 10:1 making it an excellent source of Nitrogen

2.) Natural Tillers

-Tilling is preparing and cultivating land for crops; Chickens act as natural tillers by clearing land of weeds, vegetation, and cover crops

-Their daily habits of scratching and pecking to hunt for insects serve to rototill and aerate the soil

-also leave A top inch or so of loose dirt

-Cover crop roots left in place to provide organic matter for microorganisms and water retention

-Pasturing chickens in a garden that’s been put to bed for the season allows the birds to clean up any garden debris and turn over the soil.

3.) Fertilizing Grow Spaces (Manure)

-One chicken can provide enough nitrogen fertilizer for a 50 square foot garden in a little more than a month

-Chicken manure adds organic matter and increases the water holding capacity and beneficial microbes in soil. chicken manure also provides Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium to you plants

❗️The high nitrogen is dangerous to plants if the manure has not been properly composted. Raw chicken manure fertilizer can burn, and even kill plants. Composting mellows the nitrogen making it useable.

-“Deep litter” technique. Placing a layer of sawdust or straw (carbon material)in the coop as bedding, but instead of cleaning it out each week and starting fresh, turn it over (mix it up) and add more bedding material as needed. In essence, your composting all that material in place. In the process, the deep litter bedding generates heat to keep the coop warm (Studies have shown that the microbes promoted by the deep litter method keep chickens healthier through winter too)

4.)Waste Reduction

-One chicken can convert a few pounds of food “waste” a month into fresh eggs( and potentially meat)

-Chickens are Omnivores therefore having a wide variety of food they will break down and convert.

-one chicken consumes 1/4 to 1/3 pound of food per day

5.)Pests Control

-they can also ferret out overwintering pests, thereby reducing the number of insect problems you’ll have next year

-One chicken can de-bug up to 120 square feet a week.

-Chickens eat grubs, beetles, ticks, earthworms, crickets, slugs, and more. They’ll even eat small snakes. In addition, chickens scratch down more than six inches in garden mulch for grubs (which also aids in natural tilling)

6.) Orchard Cleaning

-Chickens benefit an orchard by eating falling fruit, bugs, insects, maggots, and caterpillars, and by fertilizing the orchard at the same time

-Allow chickens to free-range in your orchard in early spring before adult pests emerge and affect your fruit crop. Return them to the orchard after your crop starts ripening.


-The eggs from chickens that are allowed to forage and roam chickens are packed with more nutrients as a result. (Thicker eggshells and a yellower yolk are evidence of tastier and healthier eggs)

-Their constant exercise and exposure to sunlight leads to radical improvements in the nutrient profile of eggs from pastured chickens

8.) Meat

-The chicks take three to four months to reach a good size, and can be butchered as late as 8 months old; some breeds take as little as 6-12 weeks such as your Cornish Cross or Rudd Ranger

9.) Pets

-Chickens provide companionship and have individual personalities. While many do not cuddle much, they will eat from one's hand, jump onto one's lap, respond to and follow their handlers, as well as show affection.

❗️Cons of Chickens in The Garden

1. Eating freshly sown seeds from the soil.

2. Pulling up newly sprouted seedlings.

3. Creating a “dust-bath” in the newly tilled soil and smothering any vegetation growing there.

4. Stripping certain plants of their leaves and flowers.

5. Eating newly set-on fruits.




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