If you keep chickens or your neighbor does, you will most likely encounter a time when chickens are in your yard, garden, or living space when you don’t want them to be. Chickens like to know where their food, water, and shelter are so they tend to only wander around 150-300 yards of their coop.
To repel chickens, start by placing their coop as far away from your house as possible. Chickens hate the strong smell of certain plants, herbs, spices, and fruits. Cinnamon, paprika, garlic, chiles, chives, mint, marigolds, lavender and citrus can keep chickens away from desired spaces.
Read on to find out more scents that chickens hate and how to use them in your yard, garden, and living spaces to stop unwanted pecking and roaming. We’ll also discuss some other methods to deter chickens from wandering around your property. Let’s get to it!
Why You Should Keep Chickens Away
If you have chickens of your own or you have chickens who visit from your neighbor’s coop, you may want to learn few methods to keep chickens away, especially if you have a garden. Chicken’s can be very destructive to your garden
Some of the damage chickens have been known to cause is by eating seedlings out of the ground, eating eaves off of plants, and eating just sprouted vegetables and fruits.
A garden is a big project and takes quite some time, so you will definitely want to keep chickens out of your garden if they are around your property. Combining a few different methods, such as fencing and planting herbs and plants that chickens do not like in and around your garden perimeter should help.
If you’d like some physical options to go with using scent repellents, take a look at our piece on building a chicken-proof garden fence!
Keeping Chickens Away From Your Living Space
Depending on what state you live in or what town, there may be laws that dictate how close a chicken coop can be from your home or your neighbors home.
If chickens from your property or a nearby property are always nosing around near your living spaces, like your porches, decks, or areas of your backyard that are close to your house, you will probably want to learn some ways to keep chickens away from there. Using strong-smelling plants, spices, and other scents can help deter chickens from hanging around close to your home.
Strong Scented Spices That Chickens Hate
Chickens do not like powerful smells. Some scents are more offensive to chickens than others.
More specifically, the spices we’re going to list below are by natural, spicy. Go figure, right? In all seriousness, once chickens get close enough to the spice scent (and if it’s strong enough) they’ll be deterred due to irritation from the scent itself.
If you are interested in more information on chickens and their biology, check out this article on 30 Incredible Facts About Chickens!
Cinnamon Is Hated By Chickens
Cinnamon is a very popular spice that is harvested from the inside of the Cinnamomum tree bark. This spice is probably already in your kitchen cabinet at home and can be an effective way to keep chickens away.
Chickens are offended by most strong smells. Cinnamon has a particularly strong smell and can be used in most areas of your yard to repel chickens.
To use cinnamon to deter chickens, simply sprinkle it in the areas you want to protect from pecking and scratching. You can use cinnamon on your deck or porch if you are trying to keep your chickens away from those areas. You can also sprinkle cinnamon in your garden to keep chickens from messing with your plants.
You’ll definitely want to get cinnamon in bulk for this method.
Chickens Hate The Scent Of Paprika
Paprika is a spice that is made from peppers that have been dried over an oak fire. The end result of this process gives paprika its smokey and slightly sweet smell and taste.
Paprika is effective at repelling chickens because the scent is irritating to chickens, causing them to stay away.
Chickens are put off by the strong scent of paprika and it will help keep them out of your yard, off of your porch, or out of your garden. Simply sprinkle this common kitchen spice in any areas you want to be chicken-free.
Paprika is a good option to use in your garden. Sprinkle paprika on the ground in between rows of plants and vegetables to keep chickens away. This is a good method to use around food you will be eating because you do not have to apply it directly to the plants, just the surrounding soil.
Most Chickens Are Repelled By Garlic
Garlic is a vegetable in the onion family that is used often in cooking. It also happens to be a scent that chickens hate. In case your chickens do go ahead and eat the garlic, it actually helps them repel mites which is an extra bonus to using it to keep chicken out of an area!
Naturally however, chickens prefer NOT to eat garlic due to it’s pungent aroma. The scent of garlic doesn’t indicate a preferred food source for chickens. So, by placing garlic in areas where you want to keep chickens away from, you’ll seemingly mask and potential food source.
You can make a garlic spray to repel chicken by mixing a .5 cup of garlic juice (or 2-3 crushed garlic) with 2.25 cups of water. Spray this mixture in areas where chickens are pecking or scratching to keep it at bay.
Garlic is a cheap and easy-to-use method to keep chickens away. You can also plant garlic in areas where you want to deter chickens from roaming and hanging out!
This is also a good method to pair with some of our recommended best ways to keep chickens out of gardens without fencing!
Chickens Hate The Scent Of Chiles
There are many varieties of chiles and chickens do not like any of them. The strong and pungent scent offered by chiles offends a chicken’s delicate sense of smell.
Because chickens do not like any strong smells, chilies are a great choice to keep chickens away. The easiest way to use chiles to deter chickens is to use a powdered chile and sprinkle it on the ground around plants, vegetables, and outdoor living spaces.
Using a chile powder like this Calabrian Hot Chili Powder in these areas should keep chickens from nosing around. You can also use other types of pepper, like black pepper or chili powder. Any of these strong scents will help keep chickens at bay.
Plants And Herbs That Chickens Hate
Chickens can play a positive role in your backyard by eliminating a wide variety of insects – they’re natural pest controllers!
However, chickens can cause serious damage inside of your vegetable garden if they go beyond their grazing and free-range areas. Planting certain plants and herbs around your property or in your garden can help keep chickens from going where they are unwanted.
Chickens Hate The Scent Of Chives
A common edible garden vegetable, chives are often used in cooking. Their strong onion smell also happens to be one that chickens hate.
Chickens are put off by most vegetables and herbs that are in the onion family because of their pungent scent. You can use chives to keep chickens out of your yard or garden by planting them directly into the ground, or in pots around your living spaces, or in your vegetable or herb garden.
If you plant chives to keep chickens away it will help you year after year to make an area less desirable for chickens. Chives are perennial and they will grow back each Spring wherever you plant them.
Mint Is Hated By Chickens
There are over 600 different types of mint. This common plant, grown prolifically and in almost any condition is a common herb used to make tea, as well as a widely useful kitchen herb. Mint’s strong scent also repels chickens.
If you are trying to keep chickens from pecking in an area, planting a large patch of mint is a good plan. It also smells nice when you are sitting in your outdoor living spaces. However, note that mint will spread like crazy. To keep mint from spreading you can plant it in pots.
You can also use the strong scent of mint in its essential oil form. If you want a pre-made mint spray, you can use something like this Mighty Mint Gallon Insect And Pest Control Peppermint Oil Spray. Peppermint oil is used to deter many pests, small rodents, and also, chickens!
Chickens Hate Marigolds
There are many different species of marigolds and they are a common garden addition. Three of the marigold species are perennial and will return year after year. These flowers have a scent that chickens hate as they don’t indicate a food source for chickens.
Furthermore marigolds have quite a powerful sense of smell, so they’ll mask the scent of other nearby food sources that chickens would usually prefer.
Chickens will likely peck and scratch elsewhere than a bed of marigolds. You can plant these in pots or into your flower gardens or landscaping. You can plant marigolds from Spring to Mid Summer for the best results.
Plant marigolds in pots around your decks, porches, or outdoor living spaces to keep chickens from wandering in. You can also plant marigolds around the edges of your gardens or the perimeter of your yard to keep chickens out.
Chickens Are Repelled By Lavender
Lavender is a flowering herb plant that is known for its sweet, strong smell. Lavender is used in many home products, in herbal applications, and as a common garden addition to bring in pollinators and beauty.
Because of lavender’s strong scent and pungent aroma, chickens will usually avoid areas where lavender is planted.
Lavender can be planted in pots, window boxes, or directly into a raised bed or flower garden. In some climates, lavender will over-winter and come back season after season making it a low-maintenance choice for keeping chickens away using strong scents.
Additionally, for a stronger scent, use a spray containing lavender oil that will give off a more potent aroma and will be more likely to be succesful.
Chickens Do Not Like Citrus
One very popular way to keep chickens away from your yard, living spaces, or garden is to use citrus. There are a few different ways you can use citrus to repel chickens.
To keep chickens at bay, take peels from citrus fruits, like lemons, lines, or oranges, and scatter them around areas where you want to keep chickens out. Chickens are put off by the strong scent of citrus. The rinds and peels of citrus fruits contain a lot of the citrus oils of these fruits so the scent will be stronger than using the fruits themselves in this way!
Citrus/Essential Oils Repel Chickens
Essential oils from citrus fruits can also be used to repel chickens. Rocky Mountain Oils Lemon Essential Oil can be mixed into a water base and sprayed all around your living areas as well as your garden to keep chickens out! You can also soak cotton balls in lemon or other citrus oils and place them in areas you wish to keep chicken out.
Make sure to keep the pure essential oil in an area where the chicken won’t be able to eat it.
Other Ways To Keep Chickens Out Of Your Garden
If you raise chickens and also have a garden, you will want to keep chickens from eating and damaging your seedlings, small plants, and the leaves and fruits of lettuces and other fruiting vegetables.
No one wants to spend all day chasing their chickens out of the garden. There are a few things you can do to keep chickens out of your garden. If one method doesn’t work, try combining two or more and see how that goes. A multi-layered approach to any type of pest or animal control is often the most successful and longest-lasting.
There are a few good fencing methods and materials that you can use to keep chickens from pecking around and eating your garden. Chicken wire, chicken fencing, and hardware cloth are all good options.
You can buy Amagabeli Hardware Cloth, which is more durable than chicken wire, and cut it to the size you need for your garden. Consider Planting Chicken-Friendly Landscapes on the other side of planting things that will deter chickens and putting up exclusion fencing, there is the option of planting areas specifically to attract chickens.
In the article from The University of California, Flock Friendly Landscapes: Gardening With Chickens, the author states that multi-purpose perennials, natives, herbs and vines can help keep predators away from chickens when used as a landscape plant.
Conversely, planting these plants in areas that will attract chickens and other beneficial garden and yard guests is another way to keep chickens out of areas you don’t want them in, by giving them a more appealing option.
Predators can also play a part in chicken management and control. For more information, read this article on if Moles, Gophers, and Groundhogs Can Eat Chickens!
Using this method in combination with some of the other exclusion methods that keep them out of your garden areas should work nicely and leave you with happy chickens.
How To Keep Your Neighbor’s Chickens Out Of Your Yard
If you have a problem with your neighbor’s chickens wandering into your yard, you can use a few other methods to deter them in addition to the ways described above.
When you are trying to keep chickens out of your yard you will first want to notice where the chickens are entering. Finding the entry point is important so that you can minimize the problem at the root.
Once you find the place of entry, you can add fencing to this area, have sprinklers in your yard directed to this area at different times of the day, and also plant some of the herbs and plants that repel chickens in these spots.
To keep chickens from wandering further into your yard or garden than you want, or to keep your neighbor’s chickens from becoming frequent visitors, you can use strongly scented herbs, plants, or spices to keep them out.
You can also try to use an exclusion method like fencing to keep chickens out of an area where they might be doing damage.
Using one or more of these methods should help to eventually dissuade chickens from wandering through your living spaces and scratching and pecking at your garden.
Damerow, Gail. Guide to Raising Chickens. Storey Publishing, 2010.
Elkhoraibi, C., et al. “Backyard chickens in the United States: a survey of flock owners.” Poultry
Science 93.11 (2014): 2920-2931.
Roberts, Victoria. “The basics of keeping backyard chickens.” Veterinary Nursing Journal 24.9 (2009): 18-21.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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