What is the best way to protect a large vegetable patch from free roaming chickens? Is fencing the only option (other than getting rid of the chickens)?
Afraid so, mine eat everything if i let them. I put flat wooden posts into the ground and staple mesh to it to keep them out. Not very attractive, but it's the only way I can think of keeping them out. Good luck!
Have a look at James' blog on chickens. There are a few tips in there but I'm afraid he doesn't have any solutions to keeping them off your veg other than fencing. Pippa also keeps chickens, and uses them as an environmentally friendly way of disposing of slugs and snails. I hope you'll also be able to make use of their eggs and manure!
Battled with this problem for years - loved seeing the chickens roaming but couldn't bare constantly re-doing work, finding dust baths in the middle of the beds etc etc. Tried everything but this year finally decided I had had enough. I have spent last few weekends building a run which I will keep them in at the times they do most damage. At the moment feeling a bit guilty but the run is generous and I'm not tearing my hair out when they make a bee-line for the patch!