100% free range

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kaywould, Nov 6, 2018.

  1. kaywould

    kaywould Chirping

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    Curious on a sq ft per chicken, or more likely, X acres per X number of chickens rule of thumb for going 100% free range plus table/garden scraps, but not buying feed.

    I’m in coastal South Carolina so winters are pretty mild here and can forage all year. I have about 1.5 acres fully fenced in with a lot of brushy area to free range in.

    I have 3 Welsh Harlequin ducks that have been 100% free range for a month now and have beautiful feathers and are vibrant and healthy looking.

    I have ducks and chickens that I feed on a raised platform the ducks can’t get too. Was going to start feeding less and make them free range more for their food and hopefully get as close to 100% free range as I can.

    Curious what others experiences are and land size vs number of birds is for those all ready doing it.

    I’m mostly interested in the sustainability of it all. Want to get away from having to buy feed and create a sustainable farm on my property that requires as few - other additional inputs - as possible.
     
  2. Bigjohn840

    Bigjohn840 In the Brooder

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    Do you have any other animals??
     
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  3. DobieLover

    DobieLover Free Ranging

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    I don't have any information on the minimum amount of land / bird you would need for 100% free-range feeding. It would be highly dependent on the quality of the land and the amount of protein sources available (insects, etc.) and how sustainable they are in relation to the depletion rate from your chickens & ducks.
    I will comment on my one experience where I believe someone did have a flock of chickens that were left to free range on a farm with no additional feed. I say I "believe" this because I saw not a single feeder or bag of feed at the place when I picked up the pullets I was getting there.
    I got 2 LH and one CA white, approx 8 mo old pullets. Pullets this age should be about 2 Kg. When I weighed them 5 days after bringing them home (and stuffing them silly), the smaller LH weighed 1.35 Kg, the larger 1.75 and CA white was 1.45. They were all much lighter than the birds in my original flock of 27 week olds. I realize they are a more petite breed than the ones I have, but they were still much lighter than the LH standard.
    You would want to routinely monitor your birds body condition if it is your intention to let them fend for themselves.
     
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  4. NNYchick

    NNYchick Songster

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    I cant completely answer your question, I don't think it just about how much forage space they have but also on what grows and is there enough variety to keep them nutritionally balanced. I have read treads about planting foraging plots, hopefully someone with experience well chime in to explain.
     
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  5. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Chickens per acre can vary hugely depending on your native soil and vegetation. Often your local zoning will address this and specify how many of various sorts of animals you can graze on specific acreage. These numbers that zoning provides are not arbitrary and were developed with the impact on the land and watershed in mind.
     
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  6. kaywould

    kaywould Chirping

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    I have chickens, ducks, and turkeys
     
  7. Bigjohn840

    Bigjohn840 In the Brooder

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    Ok I was asking because if you had other livestock most of the time between spillage and bugs created they do fine but since all you have is poultry I agree with the others and it all depends on your land quality ie. Bugs, proteins and foliage
     
  8. glib

    glib Songster

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    it will depend also on whether you are willing to plant (say, corn, oats, alfalfa or sorghum) and fence in until harvest, once spots become bald. I concur that, generally speaking, they can clean out insects, and then they have lost their livelihood. Not in summer, but in winter they can. you should certainly give them all processing scraps when you process another bird. and there are useful things a butcher nearby can give you for free, like the cracklings left after lard or tallow are made, or pieces of skin of any animal. if you are a decent fisherman you know what to do. when the time is right I can catch 200 lbs of carp in a day (not that I do it, but I could).
     
  9. MissChick@dee

    [email protected] Crowing

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    You don’t buy feed for any of your birds? I am a bit perplexed.
    Do you grow grains in the summer? Corn, wheat?
    I’m really quite interested.
    I could see where you could feed eggs back to them for protein and such but in winter everything dies back and even eggs slowly decline.
    The thought of butchering one to feed another kinda grosses me out a bit. But I’m sure there’s many that do.
     
  10. PirateGirl

    PirateGirl Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist

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    Maybe where you live in winter everything dies back, but that is not the case in all geographic locations ;)
     

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