Raising Chickens and Poultry for Home Pest Control

Let chickens, guineas, ducks and turkeys gobble up garden and backyard pests for an all-natural, animated insecticide.

  • Foraging in the yard
    Dominic Romer
    Teaching the youngster to forage.
  • Guinea hen
    This guinea hen seems poised to pluck pests out of the earth.
    Pam Maynard
  • Scratching out a living
    These chickens are scratching out a living on the farm.
    M. Watson/Ardea
  • Pest patrol
    These fowl are on pest patrol.
    Lori Dunn
  • Barred rock chicken
    Barred rock chickens turn insects into eggs.
    Terry Wild Stock
  • Partridge Rock Rooster
    This perched rooster is ready to grub.
    David Liebman

  • Foraging in the yard
  • Guinea hen
  • Scratching out a living
  • Pest patrol
  • Barred rock chicken
  • Partridge Rock Rooster

Tired of slugs and bugs destroying your garden? Tired of picking ticks off your children and pets? Did you realize that birds on the farm aren’t just for eating; they can also play an important part in keeping all kinds of pests at bay? Chickens, ducks, turkeys and guinea fowl are not only entertaining and beautiful, but they can supply fresh eggs daily, offer effective bug and slug control, and make charming gardening companions to boot. Ridding your yard and garden of pests with these animated insecticides is the ultimate low-cost, chemical-free approach. (For more on ducks, see "Raising Ducks will Help Your Garden Patch.")

Sound the alarm

Looking a bit like chicken-sized vultures, guinea fowl strut their stuff across lawns, fields or gardens – anywhere bugs, snakes and rodents roam. Some suggest that their shrill cackle sounds like chicken claws scratching on a chalkboard. But to gardeners, these bizarre birds are on patrol – pest patrol. Any bird with a call like “buckwheat!” and a more or less naked helmeted head must have some redeeming qualities. These voracious eaters devour Lyme disease-bearing ticks, fleas, Japanese beetles, June bugs and many other uninvited creatures. And to top it all off, your crop is quite safe when you put guineas on garden patrol.

Guinea hens and roosters have keen eyesight. Not only do they spot pests from afar, but they also announce the approach of intruders with their distinctive call. Unfamiliar sights or sounds will always create a fuss, but the guinea hen is much more noisy than the guinea cock. The male calls out only when there is good reason, and when he calls out a warning, the rest of the guineas chime in, which creates an intimidating alarm. 

Guinea fowl are fun to raise

If you were to raise your own flock of guineas, you’d likely come to adore – rather than detest – these wacky birds. Their caterwauling would soon be music to your ears, since the cacophonous sounds let you rest secure in the knowledge that your faithful, feathered "watchdogs" are hard at work.

“They are rough, vigorous, hardy, basically disease-free birds,” says Jeannette Ferguson, author of the how-to-book, Gardening with Guineas. “They are the most active ‘gardener’ on the farm. Continuously on the move, they pick up bugs and weed seeds with nearly every peck they take, and they do it without destroying plants because they do not scratch like chickens.”

Even the tenacity of a terrier doesn’t terrify guineas. They may scuttle out of the way, but as they fly up to a high perch they mock a barking dog with their “buckwheat” or “you lose” noises. 

5/31/2014 1:50:27 AM

That was really a fantastic post!!

Jacqueline Ryckman
9/17/2009 4:03:59 PM

I had a huge invasion of grasshoppers this year in my garden and I have been looking for an environmentally friendly way of preventing them. I think I will follow your advice and get some turkeys, ducks, chickens and guinea hens in the spring to help rid my garden of insect pests.

6/7/2009 12:33:38 AM

My ducks are hilarious to watch "hoover" the yard for bugs, as I call it. They really do a great job of keeping the bug population under control! www.whatupduck.com

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