The chickens have been on grass in an unused pasture since I moved them outside in the spring. Now it's time for them to do some work!
In a happy coincidence, the chicken tractor (their mobile coop) is almost exactly the width of two of my standardized beds. I've moved them on to a couple of the old garlic rows, which have been filling up with weeds since the garlic was harvested. In the picture above, you can still see some of the straw mulch that I used. I will move the chicken tractor down the row a little bit every day and the birds will happily eat all of the weeds and scratch out any bugs they find in the soil.
I figure that the manure they leave behind in a 10-14 day trip down the row will cut my fertilizer usage by about 40 percent next year (in those rows). In theory, the bugs they eat should also reduce pest pressure next year but we'll have to see about that.
I'm hoping to have the chickens patrolling garden beds that have finished for the year until about the end of November, when they will need to move into their winter housing. Until then, they will be eating garden culls, clearing weeds and bugs, and improving the soil, all while giving us eggs (and a few more for meat). Not a bad deal at all!