Free range layers on 8 acres

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lefty26, Oct 15, 2014.

  1. lefty26

    lefty26 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 15, 2013
    Eustis ,fl
    I am on the planning stages on building a large egg mobile on a trailer and wondering how many layers I can intensive graze on 8 acres of pasture. Possibly another 8 wooded acres once we get it fenced in.

    I am in fl and we manage our pastures so we have grass all year. We have a 1/2 acre garden so always have lots of extra scraps from the garden.

    We want to rotate them around the property every few days behind our cows so they can spread the manure and eat fly population down.

    We personally consume about 5 dozen give or take between our family weekly and what to sell extra to pay for the chickens feed and their fencing eventually. What amount do you think is feasible on the 100 acres without destroying the property?
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2014
  2. LanceTN

    LanceTN Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 31, 2014
    Depends on what you have growing in the pasture.

    Your best bet is just to stick to the 2/3rds rule. Move them after they've eaten 2/3rds of the height of the pasture.

    Exactly how long this will take depends on how big a section you give them, what's there and what birds you have.
  3. chickengeorgeto

    chickengeorgeto Overrun With Chickens

    Depending on how open the land is, what's growing, the fertility of the land, how much supplemental feed they get, and how badly your cows and the wildlife compete with your chickens, at least 2,500 to 5,000 and maybe up to 10,000 birds.
  4. lefty26

    lefty26 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 15, 2013
    Eustis ,fl
    The land is open and has mostly oak trees for shade. We will have no more than 5 cattle at all time. The pasture is planted with some crabgrass and mostly bahia grass during the summer. During the colder months it's planted with white clover and annual ryegrass. Going to plant some daikon radishes to see how they do this year.

    I was thinking along the lines of 2 to 500 layers as I want to keep feed to a minimum. As for birds we will be using heritage white rocks since they are great foragers and the Cockerels I hear are some good eating.
  5. Den in Penn

    Den in Penn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 15, 2011
    SE Pa.
    I would suggest starting with about sixty and see how it goes the first year. That will let you see how much you can expand. It also should allow you add more next year and begin a rotation, having multiple ages.
  6. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    Sounds like you should research Joel Salatin's work. He's done that, and seems to understand how to figure how many animals the land can support. Not sure if it would be available on his website, or maybe in Pastured Poultry Profits or another book.
    2 people like this.
  7. CrazyTalk

    CrazyTalk Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2014
    If you're trying to save feed costs, and use a lot of forage, frankly I'd recommend geese over chickens. (although if fly control is a big deal, then yeah, some chickens too). Geese are fantastic grazers, and you could probably keep quite a few of them without having to feed at all.
  8. ECBW

    ECBW Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 12, 2011
    As you might have found in your research, hens are not turn-key egg machines. They will take 6 months to mature, lay 5 to 6 eggs on a good week, take time off to molt, come back to a progressively slower lay rate and longer molt. Meanwhile, they will break a few eggs accidentally, lay a few softshells, some will get sick and stop contributing. Some may just disappear, via greener pasture or predators. Never a dull moment.

    For the goal of 5 doz / wk, I would suggest min 12 hens. A mobile coop for 12 to 15 can be quite manageable. When building keep in mind to minimize the weight, like using metal roofing instead of ashalt shingles.
    1 person likes this.
  9. lefty26

    lefty26 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 15, 2013
    Eustis ,fl
    I have had up to 100 layers before so I know how they like to take vacations or make me play easter to Find eggs. We want a few geese but mainly the chickens in fl we get a lot of flies throughout the year and seems like every type of insect down here. I've been having a hard time finding a large mobile coop but will keep looking on here.

    I ordered the Joel salitin book just waiting to get it.

    I plan on hatching 4 batches of chick's a year to rotate out with time and also supply meat for the family.
  10. matt44644

    matt44644 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 14, 2014
    Sanilac County,Michigan
    Stocking Density
    At 50 hens per acre, the pasture thrives except right around the houses
    At 200 hens per acre, pasture will be destroyed
    For superior egg flavor, the hens must eat green grass
    Long-term overgrazing leads to disease problems
    Mixing ruminants and hens reduces the temptation to overstock

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