Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Free range fowl

I saw it coming, as soon as "Gobbles", our adopted baby brush turkey, bonded to our Matriarch chicken. Gobbles, who is essentially a wild turkey, would start to see our cultivated areas as a personal smorgasbord. And why not? We try to improve the soil here, so all the bugs move into it.

Under the mandarin tree

Baby brush turkey's grow fast! Especially when they're eating plenty of their natural diet. But it has caused a dilemma for our garden, as they're digging up everything. I was expecting they would, but hoping they wouldn't.

Someone's been digging

Both Gobbles and Matriarch (our lone free-range chicken, who cannot live with the rest in the coop) are as bad as each other. Matriarch didn't use to scratch as much, until Gobbles showed her how it was done.

Only problem is, they were destroying ground covers I was attempting to establish around our new retaining wall. That had to come to an end. So I was forced to take drastic measures.

Ugly, but effective

Old milk crates and ice-cream buckets from David's workplace, are now adorning parts of our garden. I've also placed down some heavy rocks in other areas. Their legs aren't strong enough to scratch up the rocks.

Other protective measures

I'm grateful for the old logs I moved to this area recently too. It has prevented a lot of scratching around the ground cover I had. While it hasn't eliminated scratching completely, the logs certainly make it more challenging to get to the plants I nurture. Which has all the bugs, I'm sure, because the ground is a little more moist than anywhere else.

Self-spreading, garden fertiliser

I much prefer it when both of these free-range fowl, find more natural areas to scratch around in. That's where their scratching and manure will do our garden the most benefit. But those are the risks you take with free range fowl. We just have to be a little clever with blocking them out of the areas we don't want them in.

I expect baby Gobbles, the brush turkey, will be calling this place home indefinitely. And I won't be doing anything to be rid of them permanently. In fact, Gobbles perches on a tree near the house at night. I'd miss Gobbles if I didn't see them attempting to dart for cover in foliage, the minute they saw me. I've gotten used to the sound they make in the scrub. It's different to quails and kangaroos, who can also move around. We can't always see them, but we can hear them.

The benefit of free-range fowl, is they can improve your soil - you've just got to limit their access sometimes. Not always easy, because they're so good at what they do!

On the plus side, this is the first year we've actually seen brush turkey's move into our backyard. Their habitat are normally rainforest areas. They need that kind of environment to build their mounds/nests and incubate their young. So we're improving conditions on our land from dry, arid, to dry rainforest. So all our swales, and blocking the waterways with light debris, and more, is working.


  1. Gobbles may disappear temporarily once he matures in search for a 'friend'. were we live bush turkeys are for ever darting out across the road.

    1. Yes, they do that, lol. I slow down in a particular area near town, because they're known for crossing there.

  2. Hi Chris, I found that chicken mesh held down with some logs saves the plants from over enthusiastic scratching..... we had lots of mesh lying around from when we moved here and took down lots of fences, so I put it to good use!

    1. Yes, definitely use what you have to hand. I don't have a lot of leftover wire, as all mine goes into making chicken coops. ;)

      I think I may have stumbled across another diversion too, which I will write about in another post.


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