Grass farming (resolved, with link to other thread)

Xtina

Songster
11 Years
Jul 1, 2008
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Portland, Oregon
When I decided to get chickens, a large part of my motivation was to get eggs from grass-fed animals for the health benefits that can convey to me. But, since then, I've learned as many of you have, that chickens will decimate grass. So, I make efforts to get them fresh green things, but I have a theoretical question about it for the next house I own: How much space per chicken will keep the grazed area in healthy grass? I understand that flock rotation will be really important to keeping the grass healthy, but once I move to a new place, I will have a fresh, new yard to consider, and will need to calculate a new maximum flock size from that.

Resolved!: I have since found the threads I was looking for that cover this, but can't find the "delete thread" option. Also, I figure more opinions never hurt, so go ahead and answer if you feel like it, and sorry for posting something that is already so thoroughly covered. To be fair, my question is somewhat different from most of the other questions. Here's the link I found . The best answer is about halfway down page one from Davaroo. According to him, I need at least 87.5 square feet per bird, but I'm not exactly sure if this is just to keep chickens healthy, or if it's to keep grass healthy. So if anyone knows more about his, feel free to respond here.
 
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rebelcowboysnb

Confederate Money Farm
11 Years
Nov 14, 2008
14,675
656
368
Independent State of Dade NWGa
Heres how I see it. Lets say you have one acre of pasture. One acre is 43,560 square feet. So at 10 square feet per chicken you could pasture 4,356 chickens on that one acre. But in a few weeks it would be a mud pit. But if you split it in to 4 equal paddocks what could you do?

Each paddock would be 10,890 square feet. You could house 1,089 chickens in one. One paddock would be for them to destroy. The other 3 would only have chickens on them when the grass was healthy an rotated weekly.

So with the proper management you can see how keeping several hundred an acre would be simple to achieve.
 

Xtina

Songster
11 Years
Jul 1, 2008
729
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149
Portland, Oregon
This is really the kind of math I'm after. Have you done this before? Are these actual numbers, or are you just using example figures?
 

chickenannie

Songster
12 Years
Nov 19, 2007
3,152
35
231
Pennsylvania
I heard of someone who built a square chicken coop, then put a door in each of the 4 sides. Then, they put a portable fence on one side. When the grass became too short, they rotated the chickens and the fence to the next side and the next door. By the time they rotated through all 3 pastures, the first one was green grass again. I don't know what the sizes of the "grassy" areas were, but I think they were pretty long.
 

Xtina

Songster
11 Years
Jul 1, 2008
729
0
149
Portland, Oregon
Yeah! This is my plan for when I move eventually to the country. So basically, what I need to know is what's humane, and what the grass will handle. So if I get that one acre, was rebelcowboysnb right to say I can follow ten square feet per chicken, or should I go for Davaroo's advice on the 87.5 square feet? I'd guess that the larger size is better, both for the chickens and the grass.
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
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South Georgia
I have read about this SOMEWHERE on the www. Of course I can't find it now. But i do believe that it works out to something like 300-400 chickens per acre to keep grass growing without removing chickens.

I've just built a new coop with two chicken doors, and will be adding two generous runs (more than 10 sq. ft./bird) with the hope of alternating runs to keep stuff growing all the time. Have not found much info, particularly for the south (our grass is already green,) so this will be an experiment.

Actually, if you find some more specific info, I'd love to see it!
 

Judy

Crowing
Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
34,024
530
448
South Georgia
BTW, I promise you that 10 sq. ft. per bird will NOT maintain grass, or any vegetation, for that matter. The 87.5 might be the magic number.
 

rebelcowboysnb

Confederate Money Farm
11 Years
Nov 14, 2008
14,675
656
368
Independent State of Dade NWGa
The 10 square feet rule is whats considered humane. The exact numbers would vary by breed, grass type an your weather. Any numbers would work. The higher the number of birds means you have to rotate them off of a paddock faster an they spend more time in the paddock that you allow them to kill. So you need more food input.

This is how large scale producers manage there pasture with other livestock. Google "rotational grazing".

You could build a 5 foot by 10 foot (50 SF) pen an placed 5 hens in it. Count how many days it takes for the grass to start showing signs of ware. Then remove the hens. If it takes more than twice as long for the grass to revive than it took for them to rough it up then the 10 square feet rule would be over crowded. If it takes less than twice as long go with my numbers.

If you ever let them make bare spots in the grass it will take forever to regrow.

Air on the side of safety an move them before you think you need to an give it more time to regrow than you think it needs by leaving them on the dead paddock longer.
 

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