A popular selling point when it comes to owning chickens is the pest control they provide. Through their daily routine of moving about and scratching for food, chickens are actually doing us a great service. This is because the things we find to be nuisances are to a chicken quite delicious. It is not only the creepy crawly things you see that chickens will feast on, but also the ones you cannot see. Anything moving on blades of grass or atop soil is fair and easy game, but the hunt does not stop there. That which lurks beneath the soil's surface is tasty as well and can be exposed through scratching about as a means of snack discovery.
If you keep a garden, chickens can actually serve the purpose of policing it for unwanted bugs. Between plantings, chickens can be utilized to scour the soil for unwanted insects or larvae, and once the garden begins to grow, chickens can be deployed around the perimeter to keep bugs from gaining access. Restricting access to the perimeter areas instead of actually allowing the chickens inside of the garden will go a long way towards pest control and will keep your garden free of chicken feces at the same time (unless you want it for fertilizer, which can also be arranged). The types of bugs that appeal to chickens are rather inclusive. On the list are creatures such as grasshoppers, potato beetles, asparagus beetles, squash bugs, aphids, slugs, Japanese beetles, Mexican beetles, and snails. Chickens are also proficient at the finding and removal of ticks which is a very welcome elimination.
Another reason you want to consider a perimeter chicken patrol approach to your garden is because they will dig to a depth that can be harmful to the shallow root vegetables in your garden. In soft soil conditions, chickens have been known to dig more than two inches to find bugs, which can pose a problem for growing vegetables. An alternative to this would be to reduce garden access to an hour or two per day. During that small window of time, chickens will usually be occupied by surface pests and the need/desire to dig for more may not present itself. If you choose to stick with a perimeter method, you can always toss any pests you find into the chickens' area and they will gladly consume such snacks as long as bugs are still alive.
While most chickens provide excellent pest control, there are other birds you can employ along with chickens to solve your pest problems. If ticks in particular are giving you headaches, guinea fowl will gladly help with such issues. Guineas are known to be aggressive insect eaters, especially in the case of ticks and have been heralded for solving problems where a tick overpopulation was present. Ducks can also do a decent job of pest control where slugs are concerned, but a duck will also be inclined to sample vegetables in your garden, which can be an issue with other bird types as well. Guineas and ducks are good birds for additional bug control supplementation, but the chicken should absolutely not be counted out when it comes to pest control. In addition to laying eggs and being a source of meat, pest control is just one more service your chickens can provide.