Gardening Ideas forum→Animals to help with gardening

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Alaskalady
Mar 17, 2019 1:20 PM CST
I used to have a couple of goats. I didn't trust them around my fenceless garden, so I staked them nearby. I carried weeds from each row to the ends of the row. The goats liked that, so they did not try to pull up their stakes and they produced more and better milk.

I also used my chickens to help out in the garden. I had an incredibly bad earwing problem until my chickens helped me out.

I started training my chickens as soon as they could eat anything solid.

I got earwigs to feed them by making a container to hold them first. That was a small plastic butter tub with a hole in the lid just big enough to stuff an earwig through with tweezers.

I took the tub and tweezers outside, wearing my flashlight hat. The earwigs liked to hang on the stucco walls of my home. I picked them off with the tweezers and filled up enough of the butter tub with earwigs.

The chicks did not know how to eat very well when We started. It was necessary to stuff an earwig mushed up with their soft food into their little beaks. Then their throat had to be gently massaged to help them swallow.

Fortunately this did not last long. In a few days they were pecking a whole live earwig from the tweezers. Shortly after, it was only necessary to dump the live earwigs into the chicks' home and they pecked them up by themselves. About then, they would eat almost as many earwigs as I could catch for them.

I trained the chicks to stay near me and run under my dress and hide when something scared them. This was necessary before I took them out to the garden because of no fence and my dogs that it took a while for the chickens to get used to.

I trained six gardening chickens. The earwigs were the worst with the bean plants, so that is where the chickens worked the most. Once a hen got too full of earwigs, she would stop eating them, so I would take her back to the run and get the next one. By the time the last chicken was full the first one was ready again.

If you do this you might want more or less than six gardening chickens. It would depend on how many bugs you had and the size of your garden.

When I took a hen to a row of beans to help me, I lifted up a bean plant. The chicken dived underneath and pecked off all the earwigs.

It turned out the chickens could not see cutworms because they blended in with the soil and held still when the chicken was near. I trained the chickens to peck where I pointed the tip of my shovel, so they got the cutworms.

I had already trained my dogs not to go in the garden rows, so the chickens were not frightened by them too often. If the chickens did get scared, they would hide under my dress instead of running off where the raccoons could eat them.

The hens also aerated the soil by scratching it up looking for bugs and eating small weeds. Naturally, they fertilized a little as they worked.

People who saw my chickens working with me in the garden often wanted to buy them. Lol. I wasn't selling.
[Last edited by Alaskalady - Mar 17, 2019 1:24 PM (+)]
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Name: Kyle
Middle TN (Zone 7a)
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quercusnut
Mar 17, 2019 4:31 PM CST
Awesome!
Name: Lauri
N Central Wash. - the dry side (Zone 5b)
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lauribob
Mar 20, 2019 11:16 AM CST
That is so cool! You must have really a lot of earwigs up there. Yikes! I wouldn't be able to deal with that, having an irrational phobia of earwigs. It's so interesting to learn how you trained your chickens so well. When I used to keep chickens, I didn't ever let them free range because of the mess they made of all the garden areas. I was down with them eating bugs, but not so much with them scattering mulch all over the place and pooping in inappropriate places. Sounds like you've got it down!

North Central Massachusetts (N (Zone 5b)
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joannakat
Mar 20, 2019 11:27 PM CST
@Alaskalady, this is an amazing post! I never knew you could do anything like that. Thank you so much for posting about it! But please do tell us how you trained your chicks to run under your skirt?
AKA Joey.
Portland, Oregon (Zone 7b)
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Sallymander
Jul 11, 2019 6:05 PM CST
I love my mole. He tills my yard all year long. I wouldn't have a garden without him. I have no idea why folks don't feel the same way.

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