Believe it or not chickens are great gardeners. I have quite a few chickens and I used to put them into my little garden to help weed, fertilize and manage pests. This book by Bonnie Jo Manion and Rob Ludlow is a simple introduction to gardening and chicken basics. If you are familiar with raising chickens but would like to know more about gardening with them or you are an active gardener and are about to get chickens this would be a good book for you
The first chapter Joining Forces: Companion Gardening with Chickens has some very helpful information on various types of free-range methods. The book definition for free-range “as allowing chickens to access their outdoors freely with sun and soil, and with the ability to forage freely for their natural diet in a sheltered and protected plant landscape.” For me the key word is “protected”. I happen to believe that if your birds are out and about we have a responsibility to make sure they are safe, therefore if your garden does not have a fence around it please keep an eye on your birds.
Also included in this book is a simple overview of chicken breeds, what you need for a healthy coop, what to expect when you get new birds, in addition to garden basics.
Here’s the thing about chickens and gardens, chickens are great helpers but they can also take over a garden. As far as they are concerned the garden is theirs. It is a little difficult for them to differentiate weeds from seedlings and everywhere they look is an opportunity for a dust bath. Even having your chickens in your garden for a few hours each week is beneficial for both the birds and the garden, but there comes a point when they are no longer helpful.
This book is a super helpful starting point for both the basics for chickens and gardens. I would completely recommend it as part of a library for gardeners with chickens.