24 chickens free range needs, amount of land and extra feed question

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tberggren, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. tberggren

    tberggren Songster

    Jan 20, 2008
    Ithaca NY
    Just wondering if anyone knows how much land do two dozen chickens need to free range?
    And what additional feed needs do I need to be aware of?
  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Hi tberggren .... 24 chickens can free range on less than an acre...and be happy. As far as feed...you will want to provide them with layer pellets free choice...24/7. Dureing the winter, they will eat more, as there are not so many bugs and grasses for them to snack on. In the spring/summer you will notice they wont eat as much pellets, but will still need them free choice. If the temp get very cold at night especially, you might want to throu out some scratch/cracked corm for them. It will help keep thier body temps up at night...and keep them warm.
  3. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    A friend’s neighbor “free-ranges” his chickens year-round in his yard. I can assure you that if they aren’t over eating Poncho’s dog food at this time of the year, there is absolutely nothing for them to find on top the snow and frozen ground. In June, all that will be different except that they will still be over eating out of Poncho’s bowl [​IMG].

    Without knowing the condition of the area where you’d like to free-range your birds (or the time of the year, climate, forage plants, irrigation, etc. etc.) it’s a little hard to know how to respond to your question, Tberggren. I’ll assume that your 24 chickens are going to have one shot at pasture and then they are going in the freezer. It’s been some time since I ran a swather or tended a cow herd but here’s a little information to work with: An acre of good grass-legume pasture has about a ton of dry-matter forage available for livestock at any one time.

    Those 2,000 pounds of feed can amount to 10% to 30% of the ration according to the pastured poultry folks. If their per bird ration is 1/4 pound of feed a day and 25% of it is this forage, your 24 birds don’t need to get around the entire acre. In fact, with that amount of pasture available, it would take your 24 birds over 3 years to eat everything.

    If you are thinking about them being on that good pasture for a month, eating at the rate of a mature chicken, and having 75% of their ration composed of commercial feed – a whole lot less than an acre (43,560 square feet) would be sufficient. A few thousand square feet of well-watered grass and clover during the warmer months of the growing season should do it.

    Last edited: Jan 25, 2008

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