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Chickens in Permaculture Design

Once we know all the things that Chickens need and provide, we can place
them intelligently in the landscape.
Veggie Garden:
The veggie garden can benefit greatly from the controlled
presence of chickens. In the initial stages of garden creation they can be fenced
into the whole area, transforming lawn and weedy ground into fertile soil. Mulch
adds OM and encourages the chickens to scratch. In established gardens they are
kept for short periods in movable, bed-sized pens called chicken tractors, which
concentrate their activity. The garden can be placed between the house and the
main chicken area, so that garden waste can be thrown over the fence, and
manured bedding easily accessed for the garden.
Worm bed:
Chickens can also be combined with the production of both quality
compost and red wiggler worms. A small, enclosed (rodent/predator resistant)
area attached to the coop can be a repository for kitchen and garden waste. The
chickens scratch through this material, eating what they want (including some
worms) and shredding the rest for rapid decomposition. Fresh material is raked
up and buried daily to feed worms, and finished compost can be obtained for the
garden. This area also allows the chickens to regulate their temperature if the
following idea is employed.
The coop can be combined with the greenhouse, which can keep
the chickens warmer in the cooler months. In return, the chickens increase levels
of night/winter heat and CO2. Utilize materials with thermal mass to make this
design work well. To avoid build-up of destructive ammonia gas, remove and
replace carbon-rich bedding regularly. On a larger site the greenhouse/coop can
be located between the veggie garden and the orchard so that chickens can easily
be directed into either system.
The Orchard (more rural sites):
Chickens can benefit the orchard by keeping
down weeds and eating pests (such as the apple codling moth larva) that
overwinter in fallen fruit. They also contribute manure.
The forest garden (more urban sites):
A forest garden is an edible eco-system
with multiple layers of vegetation. Why not design and locate it to supplement
your chickens diets too. See Chicken Forage Plants for the CRD for ideas.

Chicken Forage Plants the South Island

Self Seeding Annuals:


Herbaceous Perennials:

Horse Radish
Perennial Collards
Stinging Nettle


Currents (Chickens may eat current worm)

Eleagnus (Goumi, Russian Olive, Autumn Olive)
Chinese Wolfberry
Siberian Pea Shrub (seeds and pods)


Mulberry (high protein fruits drop 3 4 months)

Elderberry (abundant fruit)
Saskatoon Berry
Hawthorn (fruits)
Any fruit trees (chickens eat many common pest that over
winter in fallen fruit (ie apple codling moth)


Rubus species (thayberry, loganberry, blackberry etc)

For storage and processing: Black Locust (seeds and pods)

Honey Locust (seeds and pods)