How many chickens?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by houdanqueen, Jul 30, 2016.

  1. houdanqueen

    houdanqueen Just Hatched

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    We are in the process of extending the chicken pen, which will eventually be about an acre in size ( 1/4 grass, 1/2 forest, and 1/4 bog which contains a seep).
    There is an oberabundance of insects, amphibians, and reptiles in this area, and the seep stays unfrozen for most of the year.
    I would like to know how many chickens I should put here, without risking damage to the bog/ seep area? I was hoping to put 40 on it, and supplement with feed twice per day.
    Does this sound like a feasible plan?
     
  2. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Depending on climate, one rule of thumb is an acre of land will support about 50 birds such that they will not destroy all the vegetation. That is about 875 SF per bird.

    Given that rule, you should be OK.

    What chickens don't do well with is low wet soils. High and dry is better for them. Provided the part that is not bog is high and dry and drains well enough, it should work. Also, provided you can keep out all the predators that will be lurking about. It is easy to envision a scenario where the birds would do really well there and have a ball doing it, right up until the moment something eats them.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    They are going to love that set-up. It’s really diverse.

    I don’t know your climate, where your coop will be situated, anything like that. During the times of the year when your get enough rain and it’s warm enough, your grass will be great for them. In winter or if it gets so dry your grass stops growing or dies, they can do more damage to it. Unless you are in an area with really dry summers, you should be OK. The carrying capacity of your land depends a lot your climate and time of year.

    They will spend some time in the bog area but I’d expect most of their time will be in the wooded area. They like the shade plus they like being under cover. Scratching in the leaves is so much fun plus they find all kinds of good things to eat. But they will be all over.

    I have an area I call the bog. It’s not a permanent wet area with a seep, a wet weather spring and low area that often stays wet, but it does dry out enough in the heat of summer that I can mow it. Mine would visit it daily, they really loved the frogs, but they did not spend that much time there. It is usually tall grass, no trees for shelter or cover from hawks.

    What I’d expect with 40 chickens on an acre is that the area near the coop or where you feed and water (with the bog and seep you may not need to water most of the year) is that the area where they most hang out will show signs of wear. They will dig holes to dust bathe in. They will scratch a lot. It’s possible their poop will build up to a level that most things can’t grow, just too much fertilizer. I think you’ll be OK with 40 chickens on that acre unless you live in some extreme climate area. There will be some bare areas but not that much.

    I’d position the coop away from the bog/seep. Your coop needs to stay dry anyway. A wet coop can be dangerous from a disease perspective plus they stink when wet. With the coop away from that bog/seep area I don’t think you’ll see much if any real damage down there.
     
  4. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I would keep them high and dry, and not include the bog in the fenced area if possible. It will be bad for the bog, and not helpful for the chickens. Consider having a very safe run, and then the rest maybe just fenced with electrified poultry netting so ground predators are discouraged. I can't imagine having an acre fenced well enough any other way. Mary
     
  5. houdanqueen

    houdanqueen Just Hatched

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    Thank you for all the advice. We plan to make the entire acre predator proof, with no climb fencing, electric on the outside, concrete lining the perimeter, and coyote rollers on the top. My neighbour also patrols the area with a .22, and has plenty of traps out :).
    We have 30 right now on 1/4 grass, and at the moment there is still plenty of grass, only a few bare patches where they eat and dust bathe. We're in southern Canada if that helps climate wise (Atlantic area).
    The big area is a true wetland, with plenty of tree cover, moss, ferns, etc etc. The entire bog is well over an acre, so we'd be fencing through part of it. We like the idea of a clean, steady water source, and not having to worry about them running out on a hot summer day.
    The coop is at the high point, and stays very dry. The bog is at the bottom of a hill, so it's only damp on 1/4 of the land we want to fence in for them.
     
  6. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I also really like electricity on the fence. I sure agree with Mary on that. The netting does not do well in snow but other types of electric fencing do.
     
  7. Folly's place

    Folly's place Overrun With Chickens

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    I wouldn't have any livestock in a wetland, and chickens aren't meant to be playing in a swamp. They will also get intestinal parasites eating bog critters, and it' makes sense to avoid that. Mary
     
  8. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a boggy wetland area on my property and I decided to put my coop and run as far from it as possible, not only to ensure the chickens stay dry throughout the year but also because the water itself is a concern. The water quality in my pond isn't that great (yours might be a lot better) so I'm concerned about what my chickens might pick up if they were to use that as a water source. At the same time, I don't want the chickens to foul the water either.
     
  9. houdanqueen

    houdanqueen Just Hatched

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    I guess I could always convert that area into a pond. That would still leave 3/4 of an acre wetland for the wildlife. I have been juggling with the idea of putting in a pond for some trout next year :). I assume chickens would be fine with a large pond as long as it's well cycled.
     

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