Animals, both domestic and wild, represent an important component of agro-ecosystems. A garden, though created by humans, is still a part of the larger ecosystem. Though it is true that certain insects, wild rabbits, and deer can eat crops, they are members of the ecosystem that your garden is a part of and should be respected. Domesticated animals such as rabbits and chickens as well as wild animals such as worms, toads,and beneficial insects can help combat pests and add to the over all health of your garden. It is useful to research which insects are harmful to your crops and which are beneficial as well as how to combat animals that may nibble your crops without pesticides.
Chickens not only give you eggs, they also combat pests in the garden as well as fertilize! Dr. Campbell and his family keep chickens and rabbits at Dogwood Gardens, where they not only produce eggs, but also fertilize garden beds and control pests. At the end of each season, after seeds from the plants have been saved and the beds cleared, Dr. Campbell and his children usher the chickens into the beds to scratch for grub worms and other insect larvae in the soil and revitalize the soil with their manure.
Rabbits, though notoriously seen as pests in the garden, can actually provide a very beneficial source of nutrients for soil. Dr. Campbell and his children keep rabbits as pets at Dogwood Gardens. The rabbits at Dogwood reside in enclosures which allow their feces to fall down into worm compost beds underneath each hutch. Worms in the compost beds receive recycled paper and cardboard for feed, in addition to the rabbit pellets that fall down to them from the rabbit hutches, which they then transform into worm castings (excellent fertilizer) that add essential nutrients and minerals to the soil in the garden.