Anyone have experience (good or bad) with chickens in the vineyard?

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I'm thinking of enclosing a section of my vineyard to be the chicken coop and letting them wander around to eat insects. I've read about some wineries letting chickens out into the vineyard, but I'm wondering if they'll eat my grapevines when they're still really young?
 

Masbustelo

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I have chickens, and I have grape vines. I keep my chickens out of the grapes. I would say they may well eat the foliage and their scratching around could be hard on the roots. If you had a few chickens and an an acre of grapes you would probably be ok.
 

Bobp

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Outside of harvest season we allow chickens, guineas and muscovys to graze our whole place....they work the vinyards and orchards.....
They do more good than harm for the most part...
Any foliage yhey can reach probably needs trimmed anyway.

If it wasn't for the FSMA rules id let em run during harvest too.

Id get geese too but they're too messy
 

RonObvious

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I've raised chickens for most of my life. I've thought many times about integrating them with the vineyard and one day maybe I will. If I ever do it, I'll build a "chicken tractor" for a dozen or so hens. Basically just a portable cage that would fit between the rows. Drag it a few feet every few days so that they are always on fresh pasture. We have way too many predators for me to ever let them roam around without a pen, and penning in the whole vineyard would be prohibitively expensive.
 
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They do more good than harm for the most part...
Any foliage yhey can reach probably needs trimmed anyway.
This is good to hear! Thank you for replying!

Have you ever had them around newly planted vines?
 

Bobp

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I haven't noticed anything to speak of. They will scratch and dust themselves ect.....but not to the extent its bithered me enough to put em up ...

Our chicken tractor is 10x24 and i move it around a few times a year, they return to it for the feeder and waterer i have in there and to roost nightly.

Occasionally i close them up for a couple of days..... But no often..
 

Lando545

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I have a row of grape vines and free range chickens. The main vine I have observed is one that is growing up some chain link and is not apart of my main row. What I noticed is that, after I water around the feeder root zone the chickens seem to enjoy the cool dirt in the hot summer. I haven't noticed any damage or wilt to the vine per se, but if they make their dust bowl to deep, they could damage some feeder roots.

Another problem I've noticed is that, the chickens will sometimes roost on my vine. The chickens feet grip the vine fairly tight and rub the bark off the vine and cause some exterior damage to the vine.

As for my Row of grapes, when my fruit ripen and hang low, The chickens will get directly beneath the fruit and vertically jump for the low berries. This wasn't a huge problem because they were only able to get the very low hanging berries and stopped after about 5 or 6 berries(all they could get).

I had to put half-inch hardware cloth around the base of my plants to protect from wild rabbits(Chewed one of my vines right in half). This has also served as an adequate defense against the chickens. They cant peck young buds through the hardware cloth, and it makes it harder for them to try and reach over and peck them. Once your vines get older they cant really do much to them.
 
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I have a row of grape vines and free range chickens. The main vine I have observed is one that is growing up some chain link and is not apart of my main row. What I noticed is that, after I water around the feeder root zone the chickens seem to enjoy the cool dirt in the hot summer...

I had to put half-inch hardware cloth around the base of my plants to protect from wild rabbits(Chewed one of my vines right in half). This has also served as an adequate defense against the chickens. They cant peck young buds through the hardware cloth, and it makes it harder for them to try and reach over and peck them. Once your vines get older they cant really do much to them.
All of your experiences are really helpful! Thank you for sharing. This gives me a lot to think about.
 

Lando545

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Hello Bitterrootgirl! Earlier this year you had posted about Experiences with chickens in the vineyard. Well i just wanted to give you a little update. We hatched out some chicks in march and we had quite a few roosters this time around. Well anyways, the little boogers got real big, learned how to fly, and land on my wires. Needless to say, they cleaned all of the fruit that were on the lower wires and left only the fruit on the top wire that they had a hard time getting to(I have a couple of different training systems I'm trying). The hens don't seem to be as adventurous or mischievous as the roosters. Bye!
 

rustbucket

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A friend of mine has guinea hens in his vineyard. They do a fantastic job at eating the bugs and do not bother his muscadine vines. Tim also enjoys a daily supply of eggs from the hens.

BitterrootGirl, depending on what the primary purpose of having chickens is, you might consider getting guinea hens as a substitute for your vineyard.
 

treesaver

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I have a flock of guineas and let them out almost everyday. I have no trouble while they patrol the whole place and eat bugs. Also have six hen at presant, and neither have bothered the grapes, june berries and other types of plants around the place. Plus they double as an alarm. Whenever they see something strange, people r animal, they make a lot of noise, but pretty quiet the rest of the time!
 

sremick

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A friend of mine has guinea hens in his vineyard. They do a fantastic job at eating the bugs and do not bother his muscadine vines. Tim also enjoys a daily supply of eggs from the hens.
I was intrigued by this. I had once considered penning in my vines and then keeping chickens as a method of grub/bug control, but then I read about the damage chickens will do to the grapes. Unfortunately I live in Vermont and guineas like warm climates. Keeping them safe over winter would be a challenge.
 

sremick

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Also, some researched turned up this permaculture solution by Herbert Heesch (who wrote an article in Mother Earth News about it in the 1980s)

 
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