I’ve been following Justin Rhodes on YouTube on his cross country tour of the best sustainable farms. In a recent episode he briefly shows how a thriving plot in his garden was made with just throwing food scraps to the chickens. The chickens scratched through it and turned the scraps into fertile compost. At this point you could plant seeds and starts of your choosing. Or you could do what Justin did and just wait and see what springs up naturally. In Justin’s garden they got peas, tomatoes, corn, and a bunch of squash and pumpkin all for free without tilling or planting.
This gardening process reminded me of Karl Hammer who raises 600 chickens without feeding them grains. The chickens seem to prefer manure and food scraps. They love all the grubs, worms and microbes. Karl then sells the finished compost and eggs for profit.
This got me thinking about ways to efficiently use chickens in a conventional garden to build soil fertility. (“No work gardening.”) One good possibility is to make long 3’- 4’ wide raised beds that are easy to reach across from both sides. Gradually add compost starting at the end of one bed. Put a chicken tractor on top and gradually move it along every two days or so down the bed as compost is added in front. One good combination is food scraps and organic manure mixed with straw from animal pens.
Zaytuna Farms does something similar on a large scale permaculture farm using electric poultry netting. This would work great if you don’t have hawks.
Image source and free directions for building a portable chicken tractor/coop are at Mother Earth News Magazine