Last year we introduced chickens to our garden and they’ve quickly become a fundamental part of our permaculture gardening system. They’re also comical creatures to have around, and the three youngest AliKats (Ivy, Wilf and Albie aged 8, 6 and 4) have loved being involved in taking care of them.
If you’re not familiar with permaculture – so named due to the blending of the words permanent and agriculture – it’s a method of creating sustainable systems that looks to the earth to design communities, produce food, rear animals and basically support all aspects of life on earth, all in a way that can be utilised perpetually.
Chickens are the perfect example of how efficient natural systems can be. As well as providing delicious, free-range eggs for our family and guests, chickens form an extremely efficient ecosystem in the garden, which creates a natural weed killer, organic fertilizer, natural insecticide and lawn aerator. We call it the ‘Chicken Cycle’!
This video tells you all about how it works or you can read on below….
How does the ‘chicken cycle’ work?
Take good care of your chickens and they will reward you and your garden with many benefits. Here’s how the cycle works:
Acts as an organic pest control and weed killer
Chickens love the pests gardeners despise.
Chickens forage for seeds and bugs making a perfect weed and bug control.
They also eat away fallen fruit and green leaves.
Naturally tills and aerates the garden
Chickens love to scratch away at the soil as they look for food. Their long toes and large talons rip apart piles of debris, tilling the soil, and aerating organic matter.
Tip: Protect young plants by rotating chickens through different areas of the garden, placing stones around plant bases or creating tent-like structures over young plants.
Creates a nutrient rich compost
Chickens create an environmentally friendly way to cut down on your kitchen waste by eating up food scraps. Then their manure creates an excellent organic fertilizer for both the lawn and garden.
The egg shells can also provide a great source of calcium for your compost system. We prepare them first by baking them in the oven and blending them up into a fine mixture (this is important because it helps them breakdown quicker).
Provides nutritious and delicious free-range eggs
Eggs are a great source of inexpensive, high-quality protein, vitamins and minerals, they are also better quality and taste better when they come from free-range, home-reared hens.
Guests in our chalets will enjoy our free-range eggs for breakfast, and we also use them in all of our delicious cakes. Now there’s an excuse to tuck into afternoon tea!
How can keeping chickens help the planet?
Keeping chickens in the garden is both a sustainable way to help your garden flourish and an ethical food source. By rearing chickens yourself, you avoid supporting the inhumane system of commercial egg production, that unfortunately still goes on today.
The ‘chicken cycle’ described above is a wonderfully efficient, waste-free system that repeats continuously. It’s an all-in-one solution for a natural weed killer, organic fertilizer, natural insecticide and lawn aerator, that avoids chemicals, toxins and anything nasty polluting your produce and harming the environment.
To watch Ivy and Al illustrate the ‘chicken cycle’ in a fun video, check our YouTube video. AliKats Mountain Holidays is a sustainable chalet company in the mountain resort of Morzine in the French Alps. Our range of luxury chalets provide a wonderful base for skiing in winter, rejuvenating mountain retreats and active summer holidays.
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About the author: Al
After an interesting but ultimately unrewarding 10 years working in banking in London and Geneva, I made the move into full time mountain life and have never looked back. When I am not looking after our 3 energetic and hilarious children, I oversee the commercial and business change side of AliKats. I also helped set up a local environmental charity called Montagne Verte, along with Kat. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn
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