I love having chickens in the garden. They are always glad to see me. I suspect it is because I usually am taking them the kitchen compost bucket.
What to put in the compost bucket?
Mine stays on the kitchen counter. We scrape our plates into it. Add all vegetable and fruit trimmings and peels. Stale bread in moderation. Crushed egg shells. Bits of meat are fine. They like and need protein. Left overs, out of date cottage cheese and yogurt are favorites! I usually take those containers out and scrape it into a small bowl that I leave for those two things.
Chickens are so helpful
They love to help me dig. Lots of yummy bugs and worms to spy. A favorite are big fat, juicy cut worms! The girls are on constant bug patrol. They hang out in the squash bed and I don’t have problems with squash bugs. And no squash vine borers.
They also love to be under the tomato bushes in the late afternoon. Nice and shady. I never see a tomato horn worm. I might see where one started munching, but never a worm. The worms drop down to the ground when you brush up against the tomato plant. Chickens bump up against the cages. Guess who is waiting to have a fat tasty horn worm? They do tend to take their dust bath there. The tomato cages protect the plants roots from being scratched up.
To keep the girls from scratching up new plants, I use 2′ high plastic fence with short thin bamboo poles or bean poles to fence off the young plants or newly seeded beds. When the plants are grown and sturdy, I can remove the fence. Sometimes I just lay some tomato cages over the young plants from getting scratched up. This will not work for cole crops. Chickens LOVE cole crops. I have had my broccoli and cabbage eaten!