How Chickens Can Help in Garden Pest Control?

Using chickens for garden pest control is not only an effective method to reduce harmful insects but also a natural, eco-friendly way to improve the quality of your soil and increase your egg and meat production. Chickens can eat a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, grasshoppers, ants, beetles, aphids, slugs, and snails. In this article, we explore some of the insects that chickens like to eat and the benefits of using chickens for garden pest control. We also discuss different ways to utilize chickens in your garden, including moving them around, pasturing them, and utilizing them in orchards. Chickens are a safe, natural, and beneficial way to control pests in your garden while providing you with additional benefits.

insects chicken eat

The Benefits of Using Chickens for Pest Control

Before we dive into the top insects chickens eat, let’s discuss why using chickens for pest control is beneficial. Chickens are natural predators and are excellent at controlling insect populations. Unlike pesticides, which can harm beneficial insects and the environment, chickens are a safe and natural way to control garden pests. In addition, chickens produce eggs, meat, and fertilizer, making them a useful addition to any backyard garden.


The Top Insects Chickens Eat

Chickens are omnivorous and will eat a wide variety of insects.

Chickens have a voracious appetite for almost anything that moves on the surface, and they can dig down more than 6 inches into garden mulch to find grubs. They are known to enjoy eating a variety of things, from weed seeds to squash bugs and even mice. The best part is that, they can be quite useful in controlling the population of mosquitoes and ticks in your garden.

Here are some of the many insects chickens like to eat:


1. Caterpillars

Caterpillars are a common pest in gardens, and they can cause significant damage to plants. Fortunately, chickens love to eat caterpillars, and they can quickly reduce their populations.


2. Grasshoppers

Grasshoppers can quickly decimate a garden if left unchecked. They are an excellent source of protein for your flock. Grasshoppers have a significantly higher protein content than beef, containing an impressive 72% protein which includes all of the essential amino acids. There is a reason why some people love to eat grasshoppers too.


3. Ants

Ants can be troublesome in gardens, as certain species may harm plants and even attract aphids. However, chickens can help alleviate this issue by consuming both ants and their eggs, thereby destroying entire ant colonies.


4. Beetles

Beetles are a common garden pest and can cause considerable harm to plants, with certain species proving difficult to manage. The larvae of beetles, in particular, can be quite destructive to your garden. Fortunately, chickens have a penchant for beetles and will eagerly devour both the beetles and their larvae. 


5. Aphids

Aphids are a prevalent garden pest that can inflict substantial damage to plants. However, chickens are known to have a fondness for aphids and can swiftly diminish their populations. As a result, with fewer ants around to spread them, the aphids are less likely to proliferate. 


6. Slugs and Snails

One of the most significant benefits of using chickens for pest control is their love for slugs and snails. Slugs can be a significant problem in gardens, and they can quickly decimate a crop if left unchecked. 

Chickens are particularly effective at controlling slugs because they can access areas that are difficult to reach with other pest control methods. For example, chickens can dig through leaf litter and other debris to find slugs that are hiding.

In addition, chickens that eat slugs produce eggs with a richer yolk colour. This is because slugs contain high levels of carotenoids, which are essential for the development of the yolk colour.


* Note that slugs, earthworms, and snails are known to carry gapeworms, a type of red roundworm that can attach to the trachea of birds. This can lead to breathing difficulties for infected birds, which may exhibit symptoms like coughing and breathing with their mouths open. To prevent gapeworm infection in chickens, it is crucial to monitor them closely and take necessary precautions. Regular deworming is recommended, and adding apple cider vinegar to their drinking water can also help prevent worm infestations.

chickens in garden pest control

Moving Chickens Around Your Garden 

One way to use chickens in your garden is to move them around to different areas as needed. You can use a tractor or mobile netting to create a temporary enclosure for your chickens, which will allow them to forage in a specific area. This is particularly useful if you have a large garden or if you want to concentrate your chickens in a specific area to target pests or weeds.


Giving Chickens Supervised Time in your Garden

Another way to use chickens in your garden is to give them supervised time in your garden. This means allowing your chickens to forage in your garden under your watchful eye, so they don’t damage your plants or eat your produce. You can do this by letting your chickens into your garden for 30 minutes to an hour before dusk, which is when pests are most active.


Pasturing Chickens for Pest Control

Innovative farmers have found a way to control pests on their farm by pasturing chickens. They have discovered the life cycle of flies and have devised a method of rotating their chickens behind their cow herd. They wait for approximately three days after moving their cows to another pasture before releasing the chickens to harvest the fly maggots.

The chickens supplement their diet with these maggots, which not only provides them with additional protein but also significantly reduces the fly pressure on the farm. To encourage the chickens to scratch through the cow dung, the farm manager simply throws their grain on top of the manure. This method is an incredible way to implement permaculture and use chickens to destroy the pest cycle while saving on feed costs.


Utilizing Chickens in the Orchard for Pest Control

Did you know that a single chicken can debug an entire fruit tree within an hour? Insects and diseases are a common issue in orchards, but chickens can play a significant role in breaking the life cycle of these pests.

Timing is crucial when it comes to using chickens to boost orchard production. Typical fruit trees don’t require excessive amounts of nitrogen, which means it’s crucial to limit the birds’ presence around the trees and plan their time strategically. By doing so, farmers can take full advantage of the benefits chickens provide in terms of pest control and fertilization without causing any harm to the trees. All that’s needed is to allow approximately a week in the spring and again in the fall to break up the pest cycle.

In the spring, it’s recommended to run the chickens through the orchard when the adult worms are coming out to lay their eggs. This helps break up the pest cycle and reduces the chances of future infestations. Similarly, in the fall, moving the flock through the orchard to eat the fallen fruit can prevent insects from using them as housing throughout the winter.

By using chickens in the orchard, you can reduce the need for chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and simultaneously provide their flock with a healthy diet of insects and fruit.



Adding chickens to your garden is an excellent way to control harmful insects and improve the quality of your soil. With their voracious appetite for a variety of insects and their ability to reach areas that are difficult to access with other pest control methods, chickens are an effective, natural, and eco-friendly solution to pest problems. Additionally, by producing eggs, meat, and fertilizer, chickens are a valuable addition to any backyard garden. So why not try using chickens for pest control and enjoy the many benefits that they provide?



  1. Can chickens eat all types of slugs?

Chickens can eat most types of slugs, but some species may be harmful to chickens. It’s essential to monitor chickens’ slug consumption and remove any potentially harmful slugs from the garden.


  1. Can chickens harm beneficial insects?

Chickens are natural predators and will eat both harmful and beneficial insects. However, they are less likely to eat beneficial insects, such as ladybugs and lacewings, which are typically larger and have a bitter taste. Additionally, chickens tend to focus on larger prey, so smaller beneficial insects are less likely to be targeted.


  1. How many chickens do I need to control pests in my garden?

The number of chickens needed to control pests in a garden will depend on the size of the garden and the severity of the pest problem. As a general rule, it’s recommended to have at least two chickens per 100 square feet of garden space. 


  1. Will chickens eat my vegetables?

Chickens may eat some vegetables, especially if they are hungry or if the vegetables are easily accessible. However, they can be trained to avoid specific areas of the garden. We advise to designate specific areas for chickens and move them or regular bases. Another option is to supervise your chickens for a short period of time while they pick up juicy bugs from your vegetable patch.  


  1. How can I protect my chickens from predators?

Chickens are vulnerable to predators such as foxes, raccoons, and hawks. To protect chickens from predators, it’s important to provide a secure coop and run, use fencing to prevent access by ground-based predators, and provide cover from overhead predators. Additionally, it’s important to keep chickens locked up at night when predators are most active.

In conclusion, chickens are a valuable addition to any backyard garden for pest control purposes. They can eat a wide variety of insects, including slugs, and provide a safe and natural alternative to pesticides. By understanding the top insects chickens eat and how to protect them from predators, gardeners can reap the benefits of using chickens for pest control while enjoying the added benefits of fresh eggs, meat, and fertilizer.


  1. Can I keep chickens in a small garden?

Yes, you can keep chickens in a small garden, but there are a few things to consider before doing so. First, you will need to make sure that your garden is large enough to accommodate the chickens and provide enough space for them to move around comfortably. As a general rule, you should allow at least 2-3 square feet of space per chicken.

Second, you will need to make sure that your garden is secure, and that the chickens cannot escape or be preyed upon by other animals. This means that you will need to build a sturdy coop and run, and make sure that the chickens have access to fresh water and food.

Third, you will need to be prepared to care for your chickens on a daily basis, which includes providing them with food, water, and clean bedding. Chickens also need to be let out of their coop for exercise and to forage for food, so you will need to be able to supervise them while they are out and about in your garden. Learn more about keeping chickens in a small garden here. 

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