How many chickens free-ranging per acre?


7 Years
Jul 12, 2012
Port Orford, Oregon
I'm about to move onto five acres of mostly wooded land in the Pacific Northwest (south end of Camano Island - about half as much rain as Seattle but still pretty green). I want chickens only for eggs and I want to free-range as much as possible for two reasons: taste and feed cost. I'm guessing I'll have to feed them in the winter but in the warmer months it'd be great if they could live entirely or nearly entirely off the land. I plan to cull my hens at 2-3 years of age to increase overall production. I'm thinking of trying out Hamburgs, Leghorns, and Easter Eggers to see who can produce the most with the fewest losses to predators (hawks, coyotes, our own cat). I may have to resort to larger hens, not sure. My question is, how many chickens can my five acres support that way? It's just me and my husband but we eat a lot of eggs, therefore I'd like to keep about 20 layers so there's enough eggs even in winter (I plan to put a light in the coop). There won't be any other livestock grazing. Is this realistic?


5 Years
Jun 10, 2014
5 acres can support a lot more than 20 layers - as far as territory and such - and they're not going to do any damage except right around the coop. My coop (16 birds) sits in the middle of a 2 acre sheep pasture - they've scratched an area out around the coop (although the sheep are part of the problem with that), and I've never seen them leave the pasture.

As far as food though, chickens aren't big grass eaters, they're more seed and fruit and bug eaters - so if you want the 5 acres to actually support them, you'll have to grow food for them - sunflowers, fruit/berries, leafy weeds, etc. If its mostly woodland, they may find stuff in the leaf litter - I don't think you'll have any problems (other than the possible predator issues)
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9 Years
May 2, 2012
Where you will see problems if they are not getting enough food is in the egg production. So if you are getting enough eggs to keep you happy then I wouldn't worry about they girls getting enough feed.

Just remember that if you give them anything to eat they will act as if they are starving. My girls have 24/7 access to layer pellets and if I take some of their pellets and wet it they devour it like they have not had anything to eat in weeks. So don't judge by the way they attack anything you give them, judge by the egg production instead.

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