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chickens and beans — The Grow Network Community
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chickens and beans

blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

So, we might finally be taking the plunge and getting a couple of laying hens. However, I just came across a concern. An article I read says that raw dried beans are pretty toxic to chickens, and states that chickens should not be allowed near the plants. This makes sense to me, beans do dry up and fall off, I even had a volunteer grow last year. The problem is the only place that we can agree is feasible to keep them, is within our dog fencing- and that is also the only place we can grow pole beans(unless I tear up my flower beds and put bean teepees. We're not that desperate yet.) Now, we plant them outside the fence, not in, but of course they grow through.

Anyone have any insight?


  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 2,053 admin

    🥳 Yay! Chickens can be frustrating at times, but can be wonderful just the same. I am happy to hear you are taking the plunge! What type are you going to try? Each breed has it's own traits and it is wise to choose carefully. I will post a link to Henderson's Chicken Chart on Sage Hen Farms site. It is not all inclusive, but it is a start. Be aware that purebred & fancier breeds cost more for various reasons. Don't let that stop you from trying something unique. That's when it gets really fun!

    I would put them in there. You said that you plant them outside the pen. I would just be careful to keep an eye on what grows into the pen & make sure that it doesn't do that a whole lot. The chickens will go after greens of any sort, at least in my experience. Make sure that they have good access to grass other greens (or pick them some). I have found that mowed grass is not eaten, but picked is fought over.

    Make sure that they are well fed & watered as well.

    Anyway, have fun!

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 453 ✭✭✭✭
    edited March 28

    Well, the dog pen(which never housed a dog, by the way) is the home of our compost pile, and we plant several things inside. The fencing around it is 6 ft. tall and very sturdy, so we grow beans and tomatoes on the outside.

    Err, I feel like a need a picture to explain this. Basically, one of our enclosed gardens would be doubling as a chicken run. I would put a small coop inside for them to sleep at night, and they could run through the pen during the day. The kale would be in there, as well as some other plants- I'm hoping the chickens wouldn't bother them too much.

    As for breed, I'd love an orpington or australorp, but my choices might be limited to what we can get as pullets. I don't really have a good set up for raising chicks, and I'm concerned about keeping our inside cats away from them. We are just getting two or three hens, so we are limited to what we can get locally.

    Edit: I am transplanting the kale that I have started elsewhere- I know chickens won't leave seedlings alone. The neighbor's chickens devoured my dad's snap pea plants last year, but maybe larger kale plants won't be so tempting? Or maybe I'm just really naive.

  • Megan VenturellaMegan Venturella Posts: 200 ✭✭✭

    Chickens will eat EVERYTHING. They are on a personal search and destroy mission when it comes to anything I grow. Big, little, my chickens don't leave anything alone. That's why they're so great for preparing a garden area. They leave an area denuded and manured, for better or for worse! But they are really wonderful and so worth it. Sometimes my garden fails me, but my chickens never do!

    I have a friend who built chicken tunnels running through her garden. The chickens can pop their heads out and gave her cabbages next to the tunnel a fierce trim, but everything made it and the chickens were happy. Would that work in your setup? It would protect them from the cats too.

  • OhiohillsLouiseOhiohillsLouise Posts: 75 ✭✭✭

    Congrats on getting chickens! I have about 40 hens. Way too much for the 5 of us but I do sell some eggs or just share. I think next year I will cut back to about 12 hens and 1 rooster. I have never heard that chickens should not eat dried beans or go near the plants. I’ve had chickens for many years, I’ve thrown spent vines to them and allow them to clean up my garden in the fall with no adverse effects. Is it possible that they should not eat them exclusively? My current chickens are truly free range so they get a huge variety of food. But I have confined them in the past and threw the vines into their area but still they had a good variety. So that is just my experience.

  • LaurieLovesLearningLaurieLovesLearning Moderator Manitoba, Canada 🍁 zone 3, PrairiesPosts: 2,053 admin
    edited March 28

    Larger plants are usually fine from what I've heard. Just keep an eye on them. Edit: well, I guess not in all cases! 😂

    Yes, please post a picture. ;)

    Variety in foods is always preferable.

    @Megan Venturella I want to do that, but it could be pricey unless they are moveable.

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    @Megan Venturella The garden is not really that big, so if I put in tunnels I don't think I'd leave them much room. I could cover over what I don't want them in though. I'm not worried about the cats outside(two old, fairly sedate cats, that have been around the neighbors chickens, and were intimidated by them); I just don't want baby chicks anywhere near my two frisky indoor cats.

    @Louise My understanding about the beans was that dried, uncooked beans contain a toxin that is poisonous to both chickens and humans. Kidney beans are the worst for this, but other beans contain some of the same toxin. The article I read yesterday said that it was especially dangerous for chickens, and therefore advised that you don't even let them near the plants.

    However, the more I think about it the more I feel that it just can't be that hard to keep two chickens away from the ripe pods, when they don't even dry up until fall, and they grow pretty high. Thanks for sharing your experience; it's good to know that you've not had any problems with that.

  • dottile46dottile46 Posts: 340 ✭✭✭

    I too have pulled my spent bean plants and thrown them in the chicken run. A couple of years ago we built a larger outside run for them that doubled as an extra garden space. We grew corn, pole beans, and trellised cucumbers. My thought was that the pole beans and trellised cucumbers would be up out of the way and not be contaminated with chicken poo. We let the plants get up a couple feet tall then open the door on that side of their coop. They kept the bugs down, except the nasty Japanese Beetles, kept the weeds down, and the plants provided shade for them as well as a cool spot from the soaker hose. It all worked out well.

  • KarinKarin New ZealandPosts: 233 ✭✭✭

    Well I have to say that our chickens never ate many vege plants, but they would dig for bugs and worms, and thats what destroys the garden lol. We had to keep them fenced away anytime we wanted to do any digging as they would be in there right under the spade! Nearly got the chop lol But they were never that keen on plants.

  • blevinandwombablevinandwomba Central PaPosts: 453 ✭✭✭✭

    Thanks everyone for the input. My current plan is to grow tomatoes and pole beans around the cage, as usual, but limit the plants inside to swiss chard, kale, and sunflowers. The swiss chard and kale will be covered with wire until big enough to have a fighting change against the chickens. That is, if I get chickens; that is still somewhat up in the air.

  • It looks like you have several good answers. I applaud you for doing your homework before getting the chickens. So many are rushing out and just buying birds right now. Good Luck with yours.

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