Millions of people around America (and around the world, for that matter) are starting chickens for the very first time.
And while most are raising chickens for eggs or meat, many are also choosing to fill their backyard with chickens to help cut down on pests and insects. It turns out that these wonderful little birds are great at controlling insect infestations, doing so in a 100% non-toxic kind of way.
Though all chickens will snack on bugs and insects, not all are quite as active or as hungry for bugs as others. Hamburgs, Leghorns, and Dominiques are among the best chicken breeds for insect control.
To learn a bit more about using chickens for insect control or picking a couple of chickens to add to your flock, that also lay eggs or produce meat, I have put together this quick guide.
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Most Chickens are Great for Insect Control
As mentioned above, millions of people are falling in love with backyard chickens at a rate we haven’t seen in a couple of generations.
People that never could have thought that they would be raising chickens as adults are now jumping feetfirst into the fray, starting with smaller flocks (maybe four or five birds, maybe a dozen or so) in at home – including urban areas – that haven’t seen chickens in forever.
Along the way, people are discovering that chickens are a lot of fun to raise, too. They are energetic, a lot of fun to watch go about their lives, and are always up to something that’ll keep a smile on your face.
Combine that with the eggs that they lay, the meat that they provide, and the nitrogen-rich droppings they spread across your lawn or garden (even better than composting, really) and it’s easy to see why so many people are getting hooked.
On top of all that, though, chickens also do a fantastic job of cutting down on your insect problem.
The overwhelming majority of chicken breeds love to eat insects, with only a handful of “lazy exceptions” (like Cochins or Marans, for example) that will eat bugs when they feel like it but generally aren’t going to hunt or peck the way that others will.
The 3 Best Chicken Breeds for Pest Management
In my experience, there exist three breeds that are particularly efficient when it comes to minimizing the damage that large numbers of insects can do to your garden. If you are looking for the best chickens for insect control, you should consider getting some of these.
Hamburg hens in particular love to hunt down insects pretty much every waking hour of the day, combing over your lawn, your garden, and the chicken coop to find another tasty little snack.
These birds lay smaller to medium-sized eggs (but do a great job at producing them consistently) and are so aggressive in their hunt that they’ll even go after snakes!
Leghorn chickens (like pretty much any other Mediterranean breed of chicken, for that matter) also love to dine on a buffet of bugs.
These chickens are a bit larger, will do a little more digging than Hamburg chickens, and if left to their own devices might even tear up your lawn – that’s how aggressive they get. You’ll probably want to keep an eye on Leghorn chickens when you turn them loose for insect control.
Dominiques (including really young ones) are famous for their appetite for all kinds of insects. Not only do they root them out of the ground that they walk around on but they’ll even pluck insects out of the air.
Dominique chicks as young as four weeks old are known to gobble up on flies and mosquitoes!
Now, you don’t necessarily have to have entire flocks of these chicken breeds to get great insect prevention results. A couple of these birds mixed in with other egg or meat specific breeds will usually handle the bulk of your insect control heavy lifting for the flock.
Chickens Warn About Insect Infestations
Another significant advantage of using the best chickens for insect control is that they aren’t shy about letting you know that they are hunting insects in the first place.
Many people (particularly in urban and suburban areas) sleep at night with a beautiful, lush lawn and wake up in the morning to find it half eaten away by bugs and insects.
This is especially true if you aren’t spraying your lawn with potentially dangerous and toxic chemicals, but your neighbors are. All that means is that the bugs are going to be pushed off of the lawns around you directly to your patch of un-chemically treated land – and the bugs are going to go crazy!
Grubs are particularly vicious when it comes to snacking on urban and suburban lawns, but they look like tasty morsels to all kinds of chickens (especially the breeds highlighted above).
The second that you start to notice your chickens itching and scratching different areas of your lawn, pecking it to tiny little pieces, is when you know that insects are starting to move on to your property.
Chickens will also get louder when they notice something pushing into their territory, even if they consider those invaders delicious little snacks. You’ll be warned well in advance of an insect infestation and will be able to “deploy your troops” along those perimeters to eat the bugs before they take over your lawn.
Chickens Eat Dangerous Bugs, Too
Chickens are going to work double overtime to eat fat grubs, worms, ants, and other bugs that really wreak havoc on your lawn or garden but leave you and your family members alone (for the most part).
But they are also going to eat more dangerous bugs, too.
Chickens love to snack on spiders that could have poisonous bites, spiders that could cause allergic reactions, and spiders that most people just don’t want to worry about having around the home.
They also like to eat mosquitoes (particularly Dominique chickens), gobbling them up left and right and cutting down on the number of mosquito bites – and potential diseases those mosquitoes are carrying – that you would have had to suffer through during the spring, summer, and early fall.
Chickens also will eat ticks – including deer ticks – that can carry some pretty nasty diseases, the worst of which (for people) is Lyme disease. If you’ve ever been bitten by a tick and were unfortunate enough to contract Lyme disease you know exactly what we are talking about.
This condition attacks your body and causes a tremendous amount of pain but also works to whittle away at your nervous system, your motor control, and other key areas of your health and wellness.
Before you know it that tiny little bug bite has changed your life forever.
Luckily, with an army of chickens in your yard your odds of contracting Lyme disease from a tick bite on your property go down significantly.
These amazing feathered family members are going to go to work for you and your loved ones, protecting you during their foraging activities, and helping to make sure that these nasty little insects aren’t able to infest your property the way they would have otherwise.
At the end of the day, it’s never a bad idea to add just a couple of the best breeds for insect control to your backyard flock. Hamburg, Leghorn, and Dominique chickens are amongst the best at cleaning up your insect problem for you!