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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 4:21 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: NSW Southern Highlands
hiya,
so, I found a past thread where someone recommended using their chooks to dig the soil after the fruit season to help remove fruit fly eggs/larvae/pupae from the soil and thereby reducing the amount of fly affected fruit the next season.

What I didn't see is anyone's success rate after doing this. We appear to have a fruit fly problem for the first time ever, so I would really appreciate some input from those with more experience. :-D

If the "using chooks as a control" approach works, then I have a job for my boys.......

This is all good in theory - but - Could anyone that has done this let me know if it REALLY works, please?
Is there anything in particular I need to know / look out for?
We can use one of those pheromone pots at the same time, but if we spray with pesticides, then the chooks will not be invited to assist....

Our fruit and veggies are in a cage, but the mesh is steel reinforced plastic coated netting, not chook wire or cyclone wire. Parrots have not managed to get through it, but I don't know how persistent foxes will be. (Never thought of needing to keep foxes out of the veggies..... :think: )

Assuming the boys get to do fruitfly control - I am thinking to provide a secure crate with some cover for them to sleep in and / or put some electric fencing around the perimeter (which can get turned on at night), but to assume foxes will not try too hard during the day to break in. What do you all think? (or should a wire be hot all the time?) of course the bits of the veggies that will then be "exposed" to chooks will also need to be cordoned off........ here's the spot
Attachment:
veggiehouse.PNG
veggiehouse.PNG [ 672.27 KiB | Viewed 3488 times ]


any thoughts?

is there anything else I should know about this?

thanks in advance!!!! :bg


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2018 9:24 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: ACT area
Okaru your vege garden is similar to mine and to my orchard. The orchard (wip) is designed to be fox proof and when finished the ducks will go in there - hopefully to control (among other things) the pear and cherry slug which also pupate in the ground. My only concern with chooks around fruit trees is that their digging might encourage suckers to grow from the roots.
My vege garden is fox resistant but probably not fox proof. So far I've been lucky - my Silkie run is in there and so is the Patch Patch - both have access to parts of the garden as needed.
What about using a portable electric mesh fence around the work area.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:02 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: NSW Southern Highlands
Thanks Sue. Perhaps a smaller breed, (or younger cockerels), might be better. Controlling cherry slug would also be good, though they are in the hawthorns which grow everywhere here as well. We stripped and pruned the nectarine yesterday, clearing the fallen fruits from underneath.
We'll do an experiment over the next year or so and report back. Will you let me know how you get on with pest control as well?


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 21, 2018 1:32 pm 
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Old Mother Goose
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We have an Hawthorne bank here too.
Can't wait to get the ducks into the orchard but am resisting until they get a permanent pen. If I compromise with something temp. it will be forever.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 8:09 am 
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Gallant Game
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Location: East Gippsland
Interesting project!
I have had chickens under the fruit trees for ever. No fruit fly but pear and cherry slugs and suckers all over the place.
We have fruit fly in the vegies where the chickens are not allowed.

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http://croadlangshan.org/


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 11:15 am 
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Old Mother Goose
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Location: ACT area
Globi - any clever ways to manage the suckers other than travelling with a machete?

I'm having a go at solarising some - lawn clippings packed under black rubbish bin lids - the hope is that the heat will kill them.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 4:11 pm 
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Showy Hen
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:-D Thanks for the input Globi! Sounds promising!!

So the fruit fly seem to stay localized and not "travel" too much?

I'm assuming your chickens still have access to "normal" feed type and amount?
:-)


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 24, 2018 6:21 pm 
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Gallant Game
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My solution to suckers is to firmly close my eyes. When I start to fall over them I use the brushcutter. There are sprays, of course but I don’t use them.
The solarising sounds actually promising, Sue. I would immediately try that except I use the lawn clippings for nesting material and never have enough. Will think up something similar though and try it.

Yes, they have pellets always and some grain. I use the orchard and little old vineyard block of half an acre for breeding. There are several small houses for brooding, hatching and raising chicks, haphazardly in the shade of the fruit trees. They all roam and practise self-sufficiency, with me racing after them, offering chick crumbles, offering growers pellets, offering water, and them ignoring me.
There is mesh fence with electric wires all around it.

That there are no fruit flies in the orchard but plenty in the vegie garden next to it is due to them cleaning up all the fruit on the ground, I think. Chickens are a very traditional thing in orchards, I'm sure this has a reason.
And I forgot to say: there are no Coddling Moths in our orchard either.

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http://croadlangshan.org/


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 4:46 pm 
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Showy Hen
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Location: NSW Southern Highlands
Globi, your description of randomly placed chook houses and what sounded like chickens doing whatever they please and acting like they own the world hit a chord with me. :biggrin:
A half acre is a big space for happy chooks....

We should have covered/enclosed the apples and did what you did, adding chooks - rather than rip the apples out. We ended up with woolly aphids and sooty mould, which came from nearby cotoneasters. Chooks would have handled the aphids quite nicely..... We live and learn.

Our nectarine is in a cage of its own, I guess this stops the tree escaping as well... :rofl:
This means we can have two projects going with different fox protection.
My OH thinks the foxes will not manage the netting. I am hoping that if they start working it out, it will take them longer than one night to get through it. I think the electric fence / wire would be better, though.

Have a great long weekend everyone!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 25, 2018 6:38 pm 
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Gallant Game
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Okaru, what I do is called bad management by other chicken breeders.

However: we have a small commercial vineyard and hobby orchard and vegie garden and the last time we used an insecticide is probably more than 20 years ago. It is not just the chickens, I think, but they help.

And maybe locking nectarines up is easier than locking up little chicks? I should perhaps try that! Easier to catch?

_________________
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http://croadlangshan.org/


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:11 am 
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Showy Hen
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Location: NSW Southern Highlands
Hi all,
I thought I might let you know how this project went. The nectarine that was by itself has a 4m x 4 m enclosure around it. We put a young cockerel in there with 3 pullets for the whole of winter until the tree started flowering in spring. We had to move them out in spring because the flowers proved quite tasty and two of them started spending more time in the tree than scratching around. This tree had had a "mega prune" before the end of the previous summer, so we we're not expecting lots of fruit, only on the growth that resprouted before the autumn leaf drop. We got about 30 nectarines from this tree ZERO infestations of anything. (including ear wigs, which had previously also been an issue)...... Great!! :o
This area got reinforced with fencing mesh that was floppy at the top and a tangle of star pickets and mesh around the bottom perimeter to deter foxes. There was no evidence of anything ever trying to get in, except for other chooks......... (there are enough rabbits around here to give foxes something easier to catch than having to go to trouble digging for a couple of birds.)

Not so successful on the insect control with the main fruit area. We used this section for various "part time" reasons. (The odd broody, cockerels fattening up, rest area for recovery after injury/treatments.) We have a fig tree in there, which, curiously has no issues with infestations. However, the plum, peach and nectarine all had a reasonably large rate of either fruit fly, or some other kind of worm. :-( there is a difference in the amount of "chooks per square metre" and the number of hours we actually had chooks in there -definitely not in there full time and not as many at any one time. (We also didn't want to have our big birds eating the produce, so, they were not allowed to stay too long.)
Conclusion, the chooks can do a good job, but there have to be enough of them and for a long enough time to work at the load of bugs they need to clear.

We have decided to continue using the 4x4 area with the nectarine for broodies and to separate birds if we need to for any reason. We will put smaller birds, probably our silkies, permanently into the main fruit area as a trial this year. Hopefully they will not climb into the trees and eat the flowers/buds and will also be safe from predators. !!

Will let you know progress. :-)


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