The integration of chickens into orchards or vineyards could have positive effects on the animals as well as on the trees and vines. The plantation could comply with the natural desire of chickens for protection, therefore the animals might cover greater distances from the stable as compared to an open range situation without shelter. In turn, this might somewhat lessen high nutrient burden, especially in the proximity of the stable which is common in free-range poultry systems. In January 2010 nine farmers were interviewed about their practice of integrating chickens into orchards or vineyards in Austria and South Tyrol. Furthermore, the integration of laying hens and broilers (> 3000 hens/farm) in plots producing apples and pears, respectively, was studied on two farms in Eastern Styria in spring of 2010. The traits studied included animal behaviour in the orchards, the impact on soil nutrients, undergrowth and populations of pests and beneficial organisms. Results from interviews with the farmers showed that animals from smaller flocks (< 80 animals) were distributed more evenly over the free-range area as compared to larger flocks (> 3000 hens). This was confirmed by on site observations: despite an obviously good structure of fruit trees, the free range area was used only by few chickens which were mainly present in the proximity of the barn building. There, open space between rows of trees was used for ingestion of undergrowth and insects, while chickens showed sand bathing inside the rows of trees. The interviewed farmers reported a reduction of undergrowth by the chickens, which was confirmed by own observations, mainly for areas close to the stable. Furthermore, less pests and beneficial organisms were found in the proximity of the stable. Results from soil analysis showed no manuring effect caused by chickens. Besides a positive effect on animal welfare, the integration of chickens has a potential for orchards through the reduction of certain process steps. Further research is needed to optimize the system for practical implementation.