Grapes for Chickens

In the early spring of 2013 I planted grapes. I ordered three varieties, all seedless, all of which were supposed to thrive in my growing zone. They have.



They came bare root. They looked like supple twigs. Optimistically, I had Steve build an arbor over half of the Gem’s run. (You can see in this photo from last year how the hens crowded into their small bit of shade.)

new arbor


The idea was that the grapes would protect the hens from hawks*, as well as provide a shady and cooler spot to hang out. The grapes do all of that.



This year the vines have grown with exuberance. They twine and drop down into the pen. So far, the grapes are just out of reach. So far, the fruits are just small green promises of good things to come.

baby grapes


The hens are keeping an eye on them.

Don’t worry, girls. There are plenty to share with you.


*The run is narrow, the fence is high, and the large Red Tailed hawks that we have here might be able to swoop in, but they know that they can’t fly out. At least that’s my theory. The Little Barn’s pen, which is wider, and with a lower fence, is covered with hawk netting.


  1. Funny I put grapes in this year, I hope by next year they look like yours, I did it for natural shade, top is covered.

  2. Beautiful! Very practical too. It looks like the Gems appreciate it.
    I bought a started grape vine on sale last fall and planted it late in the season. This year it is coming along, but not nearly as fast as I had hoped, and no signs of fruit as yet. Overall, it hasn’t been a great growing season for any of my edibles this year. Next year will be better, I’m sure, since I will have this year’s chicken manure nicely composted for use by then.

    • It’s been a strange growing season. We had a late frost, and so there is not a single peach fruit on my tree.

      • Terry how are your tomatoes?
        Well…to put it bluntly mine suck!!! I don’t know why.
        It really is disappointing my favorite thing out of the garden is home grown vine ripened tomatoes.

        • My full size tomatoes look good. But my all cherry tomatoes Suck.They are usually so prolific. I am in MD

        • Lots of green tomatoes, so I won’t know for awhile yet. Peas were delicious but sparse. Dinosaur kale, is, of course, doing brilliantly (kale for me is like zucchini for everyone else – it just keeps producing.)

  3. Hi Terry
    I have only recently found your hencam and blog while looking for help with a poorly chicken.
    Can I ask what the structure on the left of the 3rd photo, with the chicken wire, is please? It looks like its filled with woodchip.
    Here in UK I can’t grow grapes outside but at present my girls are picking wild raspberries and in the autumn they pick blackberries. We are set in an oak wood which they free range in, now under supervision as Mr Fox carried one of my little flock off about 3 weeks ago. Are the Kites your only predator?

    • Welcome! The circular structure in the chicken run is a compost pile. Read my FAQ about that here.
      We have hawks and owls in the sky, but a multitude of ground predators, including bear, fox, fisher cat, opossum, raccoon, and coyote. Oh, and weasels.

      • Weasels, those little devils. I had horrible problems with them when I lived in Illinois. The problem with them is they can squeeze through the tiniest of holes.
        I sat up all night one time in the chicken coop with my shotgun on my lap and waited for one. He came through a hole in the vent I didn’t even know was there.
        The chickens started getting nervous. I’m looking around the coop where the walls met the floor, the pop and human door, windows etc. I just happened to look up a the vent in the wall. The wall in which the roosts where. And there he was about half way through.
        KABOOM!!! got him!!! It was around 3 am.
        And yes I had a hole to patch but oh how satisfying especially since he had about 20 chickens dinners on me.

        • Oh my! Weasels are my greatest fear as I consider getting chickens. A chat room friend found her entire flock shredded and beheaded in their pen. The attack happened in broad daylight while she was gone selling at a farm market. They didn’t bother to feast on chicken dinner. They just wiped out her entire flock for the fun of it.