How many chickens for 1/3rd acre?


10 Years
Jun 5, 2009
Hi guys,

Feel free to point me to a FAQ or formula if there's a quick and obvious answer to this question. I'm new and browsing through old posts but a bit overwhelmed by everything here.

Anyhoo, I've got about 1/3rd acre with nothing but weeds and young fruit trees I planted this winter. Chickens sound like a great way to a) avoid having to weed eat and mow, b) improve the soil for trees and future plantings c) make compost for the veggie garden, and d) have some eggs for the family.

I'm just wondering how many chickens I should have for such a space. My thought is to let them free range over the 1/3rd acre whenever I'm home and then keep them in a protected run (fenced around and overhead--we have outdoor cats next door) when I'm not here.



Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
May 14, 2008
North Phoenix
My Coop
My Coop
I've got 38 chickens at present. I've got to rehome at least 13.

25 in a coop and run is about all I can handle on my 1/3 of an acre.


12 Years
Feb 1, 2009
Lexington, KY
It will depend more on the planned size of your fenced run than the 1/3 of an acre you have. For a planned run/coop, the standard is 4 sq. feet per chicken, although if they're going to be spending extended periods of time in there, I would recommend more area per bird.

To effectively eat weeds, just spread their food over the unwanted plants and they will eat them down very effectively. The more chickens you have, the faster they will work.

You also may consider just making/buying a chicken tractor to move around. This will condense them in a small enough area that they will be effective, without requiring hundreds of chickens. If you only gave every chicken 4 sq. ft, you could handle 3,750 chickens on your land... a few more than you actually want.

If it was me, I would probably get a flock of no more than 30, and either use a tractor or feed them in a different spot every day. And build your coop plenty big, because you will want to increase your flock later on!!

Hope this helped!


Flock Mistress
12 Years
Apr 20, 2007
Ontario, Canada
Yup, what matters is the size coop and run you can provide. Believe me, that will end up being the controlling factor.

You will still have to weed or mow (to even things out and take care of what the chickens can't or won't eat), unless you can build quite a *large* coop and run. It's not realistic to expect to have such an exactly right number of chickens that they will keep the vegetation well controlled without damaging the soil, or to expect that balance to struck for more than (*best case scenario*) a coupla weeks a year. And you will want to protect those young fruit trees so that the chickens do not scratch away all the soil where they were planted and/or poo them to death while sitting in their shade.

I'm not trying to talk you out of it at all - everyone should have chickens
- just, it may not work in quite such a utopically unified way as you might want to think

Good luck, have fun,


Agape Builder

10 Years
May 11, 2009
Pensacola, FL
I agree with the above for the most part. The size of your coop and run will dictate the number of birds for you to keep. Also, what are you keeping them for? Eggs? Or meat? If you are keeping them for eggs, you could quickly get more birds than you have ability to get rid of the eggs!

With that being said, my chickens do not have nearly a third of an acre. I currently have 54 chickens, with 33 of them currently free ranging. I could easily handle over a hundred free ranging, but I also have a decent sized coop... a 16x20 ex-greenhouse conversion.

When I get to between 100 and 125 birds, then I will stop, I believe. The only way I would go higher is if I built a separate pen and house for some other birds, maybe some broilers.

One thing to take note of is that almost all of the area that my birds are free ranging in is garden. And, I have brought in a ton of oak and pecan leaves to mulch my garden with, which the birds ABSOLUTELY LOVE to scratch in for bugs. That keeps them occupied and keeps lots of protein in their growing bodies. I think that the beds of composting leaves help me to have more birds than I would otherwise have if everything were just lawn. Even during the heat of the day when it is too hot for them to be out in the sun, still a number of the birds are still scratching in the leaves under the shade of the corn and the tomato plants.


Premium Feather Member
10 Years
Feb 5, 2009
South Georgia
The usual minimum recommendation on here is 4 sq ft of coop per bird, and 10 sq ft of run per bird.

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