4 pullets on a 1/2 acre


12 Years
Jun 5, 2010
Hi all,
Even after reading so many informative posts in the archives, I have a question.

I plan 4 pullets and have a half-acre lot. It's an old city house, so there's a full 10'x16' henhouse out back that I'm restoring now and will use half to house the chickens. Next to the henhouse is an area that can best be described as scrap land, a sort of compost/dumping corner that looks like it was probably the old run. I think so because it's hard as a brick and almost nothing grows there. Behind that is a 3 acre lot of hardwood and wetlands.

I work about an hour away from my house. My wife is unenthusiastic about having chickens, her father raises them and she views them a smelly, dirty, and they eat all the grass, pooping everywhere. There lies the problem.

My plan is this.
Use sand in the henhouse, leave the run bare or use pine needle bedding and let them pick like crazy at whatever they find. I read that pine needles work very well as bedding in the run.
Feed ample food scraps.
Allow them to free range in the larger grassy section that we don't often use when I am home.
Let them in the backyard where we spend most of our time on an irregular basis.

My questions.
How quickly will 4 chickens decimate a 1/4 acre lawn if regularly fed food scraps?
Can I let them free range in the woods/wetlands unsupervised?
If the main run is 30x40' what can I do to keep them from turning it into a brick and hearing the inevitable "I told you so"?

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions? I rather like my front lawn, it's rich and it took a long time to nurse it from the over-fertilized monster it once was.
Thanks so much!


10 Years
Nov 8, 2009
Epping, NH
Where I'm at, we have wooded/brushy areas on both sides and a small brushy section out front.,. When the chickens are let loose from their fenced section, this is where they go 99% of the time. They always come back by dusk. Occasionally they do peck around in the garden, but so far they haven't damaged any plants, but I'll be fencing the garden off soon cause I know once veggies are growing that they'll probably eat it all.


13 Years
Jan 9, 2010
Northridge, California
My 4 girls are out about 1/2 a day on a 30 foot by 30 foot side yard. It is mostly lawn with several rose bushes. They eat the grass and a few rose leaves, but overall the yard looks just as good as it did pre-chicken. They have food and water all the time. I give them some food scraps every morning. I also give them watermelon rinds or some other treat in the evening before dusk.
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Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 14, 2009
Benton (Saline County) AR
I have approximately 1/3 acre and about 50 chickens ---- would you do me a favor and come mow tomorrow???

I have heard on here that it's unusual for me to have this much grass with this many birds, but maybe somebody should tell my grass that
I have Bermuda grass + weeds, and it's "practically" indestructable. Maybe it depends on how hardy your grass is, but I'd think that 4 hens would be nothing compared to my flock.


13 Years
Jun 21, 2009
If I leave the coop in the same place for too long and the chickens locked in the tractor - they can denude the lawn in 5 days. But I generally do let them into the run - before I was afraid to do that when I was working and they only used the run when I was home. When My son and I move the tractors around every day - they do not wreck the lawn but they will want to use a dust bath so I would suggest getting them a cat litter pan and filling with chinchilla bath sand or dirt so they can use it and not dig into your ground to sand bathe.


I would dig up the ground a little and rototill it and then toss scraps and let them dig and scratch. Maybe that land just needs some love, tilling, some water and some chickens to make it fertile.


10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
Oakland, CA
30'x40' is a huge run, your chicks will be very happy. My setup includes a covered / secure run with sand on the bottom, and a fenced in but not covered area filled with mulch (wood chips). I get the mulch free from tree trimmers. The chickens LOVE it, and the combination of wood chips + high nitrogen chicken poo makes perfect soil - no brick. As it decomposes it turns into fluffy humus and then I add more mulch about once a year.

I have a tiny city yard - 7000 s.f. and let my 4 girls free range in the yard for at least 4 hours per day. They have not destroyed the lawn. I do have to fence in my veggie garden, and have put big rocks/pavers around certain decorative plants to keep them from digging at the roots, but the lawn is fine.

Good luck,


12 Years
Jun 5, 2010
Thanks everyone for your replies!
I hope to pick up my chicks this weekend. I have to say that I'm the only one enthusiastic about this venture. Even my kids are hesitant.

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