If you’ve ever had free-range chickens wreak havoc on your yard or garden, you know how much damage they can inflict in a short period of time. There are a few things you can do to discourage chickens from trampling, scratching, and pecking certain areas, though.
Driving the Chickens Away
Spray the chickens with water. When you see chickens wander into your garden, give them a quick spray with a standard garden hose. Keep the water pressure light so that it scares the chickens without hurting them.
- The chickens will usually return shortly after you spray them the first time, but if you do this consistently enough, they may eventually associate your yard with the water and start to avoid it.
- Since spraying them with a garden hose requires you to actually be present when the chickens invade your yard, you may not catch them all the time. For that reason, you may want to consider installing motion-activated water sprinklers to catch the chickens when you’re not around.
Sprinkle spices around the area. Dust the ground in between plants with cinnamon, paprika, garlic, curry powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, or a spice blend containing one or more of these options. Apply the spice to the perimeter of your garden, as well.
- Most chickens don’t like the pungent smell of strong spices, so they will tend to avoid areas that reek of them.
- If a chicken does wander onto spice-covered ground, the spices will coat the bottom of its feet and create a burning or tingling sensation. The chicken will not actually be harmed, but the feeling will usually be so unpleasant that the bird will flee from your yard in response.
Use citrus peels. Gather old lemon peels, lime peels, or orange peels. Scatter them around the perimeter of your garden and in between separate plant beds.
- You can also try spraying the ground with lemon juice or lime juice. Use the juice instead of or in conjunction with the citrus peels.
- For the maximum effect, you can even cut lemons or limes and scatter the fruit halves over the area.
- Chickens generally don’t like the smell of citrus, and that smell might be enough to repel them. If a chicken does take a nibble of the fruit, the sour taste will usually repel them, too. The fruit shouldn’t actually hurt the chickens, though.
Plant unappealing herbs. Some plants are naturally unappealing to most chickens. If you plant these species in your garden, positioning them around and in between rows of other, more appealing plants, the odor of the unappealing plants might be enough to help ward off uninvited chickens.
- May perennial herbs work well for this purpose. Some options worth considering include oregano, thyme, lavender, mint, lemon balm, marjoram, chamomile, and sweet woodruff.
- Established perennial herbs are also rooted firmly into the ground, making it difficult for chickens to scratch them out even if they do get curious.
- When possible, transplant established plants instead of using seedlings or seeds. Only established herbs are strong enough to withstand rummaging chickens. Younger forms might be too weak.
- Other plants that have been known to discourage chickens include many standard annuals, such as nasturtiums, impatiens, alyssum, petunias, and marigolds. In areas with little food, however, even these plants can fall victim to the occasional wandering chicken.
Weed selectively. Chickens prefer bare ground, so areas with plentiful weeds and other dense plant material are less likely to attract them than well-groomed gardens with patches of empty soil.
- If weeds bother you, a similar option is to plant your flowers or vegetables closer together than you usually would. This can limit the growth of some plants, but ultimately, dense plant beds might be the key to saving the plant bed as a whole.
- Some plants are unable to thrive in crowded soil, though. If the weeds are causing your plants to wither, try pulling up some without completely clearing the area. Avoid creating chicken-sized patches of bare dirt anywhere in your garden or yard.
Keeping the Chickens Out
Fence off the plants. The easiest way to prevent chickens from attacking a specific plant is to built a fence around it. A simple fence made with chicken wire and some form of support will usually be enough to keep the pests away.
- Insert a tomato cage over the plant you need to protect or surround the plant with two to four stakes.
- Wrap the chicken wire around the stakes, weaving the stakes into the mesh vertically so that the entire structure remains secure.
- The entire structure only needs to be 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) tall to keep most chickens out.
Cover the ground with wire cloth. If you want to protect a broad area of mulch, recently sown seeds, or seedlings, you can usually do so by spreading a wire cloth over the entire patch of ground. Most chickens won’t like the feeling of wire beneath their feet, so they will tend to stay away.
- Purchase wire deer netting with relatively small holes and spread a sheet over the entire area you wish to protect. Secure the edges of the of the netting with heavy stones or bricks to prevent it from coming off.
- Alternatively, purchase wire hardware cloth and cut a rectangle large enough to cover the area you wish to protect. Cut a small square out of each corner and bend all four edges down at the newly cut corners, creating perpendicular “legs” for the wire mesh to stand on. Place the makeshift wire box directly over the area you want to protect. It should remain secure without additional help.
Surround the base of a plant with stones. Another way to protect an individual plant is to completely surround the base of the plant with bricks or medium to large stones. The stones must be large enough to prevent the chickens from moving them.
- Wait until the seed sprouts before surrounding the area with stones. That way, you’ll know exactly where the base of the plant is located and won’t accidentally cover or block it.
- Try to use stones that are at least 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter or width. Anything smaller than this might be too lightweight and could be knocked over by notably aggressive chickens.
- Keep the base of the plant completely surrounded by a perimeter of brick or stone. Leave as little gaps in this ring as possible.
Plant in containers. Most chickens won’t bother with plants grown inside high containers because of the extra effort they would need to exert to do so. It may not be practically to plant your entire garden in containers, but if there is a particular plant you feel especially protective of, container gardening might keep it a little safer.
- With notably aggressive chickens, you may need to take a few extra steps even with container gardens. Place the plants on a deck, porch, or other place that is completely out of reach for the chickens. Alternatively, surround the base of the newly sprouted container plant with stones or bricks as though it were planted in the ground.
Inviting the Chickens Somewhere Else
Keep bare patches away from the garden. Chickens are attracted to bare patches of ground. If you keep the ground of your garden densely covered but have a separate area of bare ground within view, most chickens will leave the garden behind and gravitate toward the uncovered soil.
- Clear a square space roughly 1 yard (91.4 cm) long and 1 yard (91.4 cm) wide. Remove all plant life from that space, including weeds and grass, leaving only the bare soil behind.
- The chickens will gravitate toward this area. They may scratch and poke around for insects, and they’ll often use this space for dust baths. If they have a space dedicated for these purposes, they may not be inclined to do these things elsewhere in your yard.
- It is also a good idea to sprinkle diatomaceous earth over this patch of ground every few months to keep chicken mites away.
Plant a separate garden for the chickens. If you’re trying to repel your own chickens, you might want to consider planting two separate gardens: one for you and one for your chickens. Fill the chicken garden with plenty of appealing and healthy edible plants for your chickens to nibble on.
- This trick works best when used in conjunction with other chicken-repelling techniques. Creating a separate chicken garden may not be enough to solve the problem if it is the only thing you do.
- Your chicken garden should include bushes and low-growing trees that can provide shelter for chickens needing to hide from the sun or from potential predators.
- Include an evergreen shrub so that the chickens have cover in the winter, as well.
- Planting edible bushes will be a bonus feature for the chickens. Berry bushes, like elderberry and blueberry bushes, are usually good options. When you’re trying to manage your own chickens, the use of edible bushes can also reduce the cost of feeding your chickens.
Add New Question
When putting spices in yard to keep chickens from my flower beds, will rain or watering make it go away?
Yes, and it will eliminate the scent that discourages the chickens.
How often do I need to put out the spices?
I would recommend putting out the spices once a week. You may need to do it more often if you live in an area with frequent rain.
How do I get rid of crows?
A scarecrow, or mannequins may work. If it’s a bird feeder issue, maybe use a smaller bird feeder for the birds you are feeding.
I have read that chickens cannot smell. Is that true? I spray a deer deterrent in my yard that reeks of garlic, but that does not faze them.
Chickens can smell, but they do not mind the smell of garlic. They will be attracted to anything that smells like food.
When do I separate young chickens from their parents?
If your hen hatched and is raising the chickens, she’ll wean them off on her own when she’s ready, usually at around 6 weeks, depending on the temperament of the hen. This also about the time they would be self-sufficient in the coop. Before that you will need to place them in a brooder if you remove them early. Unless you are breeding them, there’s no need to remove them from the flock. If you are breeding them, you can separate them at any time, but remember sperm can live in a hen’s oviducts for up to a month, so be sure to wait at least that long before collecting eggs that would be fertilized by another rooster.
How would shooting them with a BB gun work?
It would not work well and you should not do that. You will most likely end up hurting the chicken badly. Use the methods above instead.
My neighbor has free range chickens and they’ve been getting into my garden. What can I do? Does anyone know if moth crystals work?
Whatever you do, do NOT put moth balls out, they can harm the chickens! I would first ask the neighbor to keep them away from your yard. If this doesn’t work try putting out a hose or sprinkler. I know that my chickens hate water and will stay as far as they can away from it.
If I sprinkle spices (cinnamon, pepper, etc) in my garden, will the rain wash them away?
It depends on how long it is after you sprinkle the spices before it starts to rain. Most likely the spices will be mixed in with the dirt so they won’t be washed away.
My neighbor keeps free-range chickens that come into my garden. I ask her to keep them away but they still continue to come onto my property. They’re also hungry every time they’re here. What should I do?
If asking doesn’t help then you’ll need to take further measures by getting in contact with a ranger or your local council to see what they can do about the situation. And although chickens constantly forage for food throughout the day, if you think they aren’t being fed properly then maybe get in contact with the SPCA. They will check out the chickens’ welfare and also help with the ”trespassing” situation. It helps to look into your local laws and regulations on chickens to see if they have to be cooped up or if they’re even allowed. You can bring this up with the owner if she isn’t following the rules.
Can you suggest a powerful water gun (shooting at least 60 feet) for repelling destructive, wild chickens? The chickens are too smart to depend on hoses & are adept at keeping their distance.
Using spices such as oregano, cinnamon, and paprika sprinkled in the yard should be enough to repel them. The water would only repel them for a short amount of time and the pressure of a long distance gun may be harmful to them.
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Things You’ll Need
- Garden hose
- Motion-activated sprinkler
- Cinnamon, paprika, garlic, curry powder, and/or pepper
- Citrus peels
- Perennial herb plants
- Chicken wire, deer netting, or hardware cloth
- Stakes or tomato cage
- Heavy stones or bricks
- Pots and other planting containers
- Chicken-friendly shrubs and trees
About This Article
If you want to repel chickens from your garden or section of your yard, try planting some herbs that chickens don’t like, such as oregano, thyme, lavender, or mint. You can also the ground with some garlic powder or salt, which chickens won’t like walking on. Chickens also don’t like walking on wire, so you can lay down wire mesh, like deer netting, to keep them away. If chickens are ruining your garden, consider putting up a fence or placing rocks around the garden so that they just can’t access it anymore. To learn how to invite the chickens to a preferable area, keep reading!
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