Farming forum: Can I plant fruit trees in my chicken area?

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springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Feb 15, 2014 8:52 PM CST
I'd like to plant some apple, pear, apricot, cherry, and peach trees. Can I plant those in the same area I will have chickens in? I thought they could provide some shade and protection for the chickens and they would be fenced in so the deer won't eat my fruit. But then I wonder if the chickens would harm the trees somehow and is it safe for the chickens to eat the fruit that drops? I thought another benefit of this would be the chickens eating alot of insect pests which would protect the fruits. Thoughts?
Name: joseph wittenberg
high desert (Zone 8b)
Permaculture Region: California
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grizzlyjoe
Feb 15, 2014 9:23 PM CST
I think it's a good idea. I have a peach tree in the middle of a garden that I let the chickens in to and they have never done anything to it. I feed all those fruits that you listed to the chickens and they love them. I have a friend who won't let the chickens eat peach pits as she believes there is some sort of poison in there to chickens, but like everything everyone has different opinions on that. I think, like you said, the chickens would do good pest control and it will give them a good place to roost in the shade.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 15, 2014 9:55 PM CST
I like the idea too - so will your chickens.
Porkpal
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 16, 2014 10:07 AM CST
My chickens roam my small orchard freely, and they don't harm anything. The fruit won't hurt them. It would be one big chicken that could swallow a peach pit! When I can peaches, I put the skins and pits in a bucket and through it out for the chickens. They eat the peach skins, but really can't do anything with the pits. The squirrels end up hawling them off to eat.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Feb 16, 2014 11:35 AM CST
ok great, I was thinking too much sugary fruits could give chickens the runnies... no?
I'm hoping there will be less pests and I won't have to spray the trees because I hate doing that. (eating that actually)
I know that if I do spray at some point I would need to move the birds out so they won't be poisoned, they are pretty sensitive to chemicals.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Feb 16, 2014 12:26 PM CST
I planted a mulberry seedling in my chicken yard last season and have protected it with chicken wire until it gains enough height that the birds will not peck it to death. My idea is for them to enjoy the berries as they drop and provide a bit of shade in the summer. My sister had a peach tree volunteer in her chicken yard - apparently from a pit in the scraps she throws out. She harvested her first peach last summer - what a bonus. She also has a large deer population and being inside the fenced yard protected it from forage.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Feb 16, 2014 2:09 PM CST
YES! FINALLY it seems I have had a brilliant idea LOL

Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Feb 16, 2014 2:29 PM CST
Oh, I'm sure you've had more than one brilliant idea...
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 17, 2014 12:35 PM CST
Deb, I have mulberry trees growing all over the place, they are really invasive. They get really deep root systems very quickly, and are hard to pull up when they come up in your flower beds. Hope you got one of the newer sterile ones. I like eating them though, and so do the birds.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Feb 17, 2014 1:06 PM CST
@tveguy3 - thanks for the warning. I don't know if mine is sterile or not. I was more focused on getting a white fruited variety as I've heard the darker fruit makes quite a mess. I'll check on what variety I have and if it is not sterile, will keep a lookout for seedlings. Hopefully I have not unleashed the wrath of God in my garden!
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Feb 17, 2014 3:15 PM CST
There are some sort of non-fruiting mulberries growing on the river bank (our west property line) that are very invasive as they sucker prodigiously. Do the fruiting ones do that too?
Porkpal
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Feb 17, 2014 6:25 PM CST
As far as I know, they only start from seeds. But do they ever grow fast.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Feb 19, 2014 2:14 PM CST
I checked the the nursery I bought my white mulberry from, and they report that Malus alba will produce seedless berries UNLESS there is a male mulberry close enough to pollinate. They also say the white mulberry can be grown as either a tree or kept to a shrub, as it fruits on new wood. So, I assume I will see some suckering, not sure how much to expect. I did get one or two berries last year from my teeny little 3' whip, surprisingly. Looking for more this year, and also hoping it will put on some growth so I can prune the lower branches out of chicken range.
I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 30, 2014 7:47 PM CST
Is a fenced area about 6 ft wide and 80 ft long big enough for 15 chickens?
And do I need to wrap the trunks of the trees to protect them? I know chickens can't fly, but can they use the trees to get out of the fencing?
Name: Porkpal
Richmond, TX
Charter ATP Member I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Keeper of Poultry Farmer Roses Raises cows
Garden Ideas: Level 2 Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
porkpal
Mar 30, 2014 9:07 PM CST
6' X 80' will give your chickens an ample run, but don't expect grass to survive in it for long. Some chickens fly quite well - especially when young. If the trees have low branches they might well serve as an escape route. Wing clipping - just the flight feathers on one wing - will cramp their style somewhat. The trees should not need wrapping to protect them from the chickens.
Porkpal
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 31, 2014 6:55 AM CST
Should I wrap the trees while they are young? I can definitely do wing clipping, I will look on you tube, I bet I could find some videos to show me how to do that. I plan to put 6ft chainlink on one side and then probably just 4 ft chicken wire on the other side. Is 4 ft tall enough? Maybe I should go taller. (I'm using 6 ft chainlink on the outside part so that the deer will not have an easy way to my fruit.) I didn't think chickens could fly at all !
I know the grass won't make it, but that is fine. I do plan on laying straw in it, is that ok for the birds? Then I thought a couple times a year I could replace it with fresh straw and use the old on my vegetable gardens, ?
Name: Tom
Southern Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Irises Vegetable Grower Butterflies Region: Wisconsin Keeps Horses Cat Lover
Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry Daylilies Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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tveguy3
Mar 31, 2014 7:18 AM CST
I doubt if 4 ft is high enough to keep the chicens in,and the varmets out. I don't know if you have a lot of raptors in your area, but I have a top on my chicken fence to keep the hawks from getting them Of course in the summer they free range, and at times I'll still loose one to them. Don't suppose that will work when you have trees planted in their yard though.
I am not afraid of an army of lions led by a sheep; I am afraid of an army of sheep led by a lion. - Alexander the Great
springfield MO area (Zone 6a)
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Plant Identifier
Frillylily
Mar 31, 2014 7:31 AM CST
Well I will just have to make it 6 ft I guess on both sides. I do have hawks here, but I never thought of them getting a full grown chicken?! I always thought they caught smaller things like mice and lizards and maybe squirrels. We do have owls, but they just come out at night of course, well dusk. I do worry about my 4 lb poodle getting caught by an owl so I am cautious when letting him out at night. I know a lady whose cat was taken by an owl, so it does happen. Yeah, the idea of the trees is to offer some protection eventually, but for a while of course the trees will be too small to be of any use for that. I know I won't do free range because I will have vegetable gardens and my daylily beds. But I do want to make a sizable enough pen for them that are not cramped.
Name: Deb
Pacific Northwest (Zone 8b)
Region: Pacific Northwest Organic Gardener Herbs Dragonflies Dog Lover Keeper of Poultry
Birds Lover of wildlife (Raccoon badge) Garden Ideas: Master Level Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Garden Sages Plant Identifier
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Bonehead
Mar 31, 2014 9:28 AM CST
I have both hawks and eagles. My chicken yard is not fenced above, but the coop is raised off the ground which gives the birds a hidey-place when a predator flies over. My rooster is really good at warning the hens and they all huddle up together out of harm's way. If your coop is flush to the ground, I would suggest putting up some sort of protective roof, which will also give them a spot to be outside when it is raining.

I have one young fruit tree inside the yard, which I currently have wrapped with a chicken wire cage. I think once the trunk has bulked up and the branches are higher than a hen can jump, I will remove the cage. In a secondary yard, I have a mature hemlock which they just scratch around and don't bother the bark (so far).

My chicken yard is a repurposed corral, 4 board fence, so perhaps a bit taller than 4'. We attached woven wire to the bottom 3 boards, buried partway into the ground. Four of my 10 hens regularly fly/flop in and out of the chicken yard, but I don't mind them being loose. The rooster used to also get out, but he is now too heavy (good thing, he's meaner than dirt).

Size: I am running 11 birds in about 800 square feet of yard. I started with baby chicks last March and by the end of summer, they had eaten the once lush pasture grass down to bare dirt. We recently added a secondary yard that we open up for a couple hours a day to keep them on fresh grass. And, I let them all out for about an hour per day of free ranging, late afternoon. So far (and I say this cautiously) they have not done any serious damage to my garden beds, although they do make a bit of a mess tossing things around.

Also so far, no predator problems. We have an automatic chicken door on the coop, which closes the door at dusk and opens it at dawn, so the birds are contained during the night when most predators are active. Much as I dislike the rooster, I think he is a really good watchdog of the hens. The neighbors on either side of me have hens but no roosters and they have both lost chickens on a fairly regular basis. My known predators are possum, raccoon, coyote, bobcat, weasel, hawk, eagle, and owl.

Have fun with your chickens, I find them rather amusing. And love the eggs!

I want to live in a world where the chicken can cross the road without its motives being questioned.
Name: Tim Hoover
Elysian FIelds, Texas (Zone 8a)
Region: Texas Seller of Garden Stuff Beekeeper Ponds
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TimHoover
Apr 9, 2014 9:32 PM CST
I have a Peach tree in my chicken yard. The hens do not much mess with it BUT (!) a bunch of them like to roost in it. Trust me, you do not want to eat THOSE peaches. Ewwww... peaches with white stripes are just so, well, unappealing.

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