How many chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by June2012, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. June2012

    June2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'd like to keep my 2000 sq ft backyard from becoming a dust bowl due to chicken damage, but I've heard that with right management, this is possible. How many chickens can I raise? I would like to raise four or five hens with a rooster (with another five or six ducks and maybe a pair of geese -- as you can see, I'd like a lot of animals! XD) ideally.

    The backyard is mainly grass. I plan on planting some seeds and the like to keep the birds happily foraging, but I do plan on supplementing their regular foraging. Can I hope for them to have a diet half and half of forage and feed?

    Also, does anyone have a compost area they let their chickens have a go at? Has anyone raised their chickens in a greenhouse, or next to one? I'm thinking about having the coop backed up against a wall of the greenhouse, and in the winter, letting them warm the greenhouse by opening a part of the wall of the coop to the greenhouse. (Maybe even letting them forage in there with the rabbits I plan on adding...?) In the summer, I'd probably block access to the greenhouse so as to not overheat the chickens. Is this a good idea?
     
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Lots of Chickens Premium Member

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    Chickens will get limited forage from a lawn, mostly bugs, I would certainly start smaller and see how you like it and how it goes. Plan for a large coop and probably a run, as confinement is sometimes needed.

    I always feed my birds all they will eat and they supplement their diet by free ranging in my pastures.

    Ducks and geese are noisy and messy and are better housed away from chickens.

    Chickens can quickly destroy a lawn, and gardening can be hard. You need to either fence the chickens or fence the gardens. Chickens will spread a compost pile out which will stop the compost heating up, so unless you have a huge pile you should keep them out of it.

    Many folks in colder climates use a green house or something similar to house their birds in winter. I personally haven't tried it.
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Where you are will have a huge influence. I my self am a rancher in the wilds of South Dakota, literally my birds could travel miles and be on our place, but they don't.

    I have free ranged extensively at times, and in July, I will notice a drop in feed consumption, as the birds are eating young but full size insects. Different years, and different successes in insect population so it is not a for sure thing. By August, the insects are losing their protien value, and by September the frost has taken them out as a feed source. I have never even come close to a 50/50 feed from free ranging. However, that is hugely influenced by the seasons of where I live. If you live in a mild climate, without winter and year round bugs, it might get much closer.

    If you want 5-6 head of chickens, and a lawn, I would create a coop/run set up. let them out for an hour or two each day, and keep them penned in the run the rest of the time. Chickens do love turned earth, and will destroy any type of garden, flowers of vegetables, and can destroy them in a blink of an eye. You will either need to fence the chickens in, or the garden so that they can't get in. I would not let them in my compost, but on the other hand, they make some great compost and mulch for me. All chicken bedding eventually goes to my garden. One does need to age it, before using it.

    I think that the number of animals that you are planning for will destroy your yard, and may lead to some very ugly behaviors over the long run. When they are chicks, they are so tiny, it is hard to imagine how big they will be when full grown. I agree with old-hen ^ up above. Start small and see how it goes. Start with chickens and the rooster, wait a year, then add if you want to. Ducks and geese make a terrible mess with water.

    Mrs K
     
  4. June2012

    June2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I plan to grow out the backyards when the frost thaws with some weeds and see if I have success raising worms for my garden. I also will definitely take that advice -- never thought of going small and increasing number of chickens... Thank you! :) I also am planning for a raised coop and a run attached.

    I know that they can, which is why I'm asking: will five or six chickens do much damage to about 2000 square feet? I am going to section off some space for a greenhouse (maybe extra for the garden although most of it will be in the greenhouse), but I don't think I'd block off a significantly large space that'd have a large effect.

    I was thinking of fencing off the compost pile that the chickens would have access to. Would they spread it out if it was contained? I don't know how they'd do that, and I thought compost was supposed to be aerated so that the bacteria could start working...? (I don't know the science behind it, haha!)

    Oh my! I didn't think 50/50 was much at all. Goes to show how little I know about chickens. [​IMG]

    I do plan on fencing off the garden, and I'm starting to wonder why compost and chickens don't mix. I thought chickens would do great by scratching the compost around.

    I seem to be getting too ambitious. Whoops. I read that it was possible, but I didn't know much of the specifics. I am so glad that I came here!


    Thank you so much for the answers. Would it be better to simply have three or four chickens with the space that I have? I would prefer that they be able to be outside all day...
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  5. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey June2012

    I am not sure if it helps but here goes …

    I have 5 x bantams on a standard residential block; they free range all day. We have had chickens for 4 years now and this is the lawn:

    [​IMG]

    This is coop and run:

    [​IMG]

    This is where they spend most of their day .. digging around under the foliage which is mostly in pots; 1. To conserve water and 2. It stops them digging the plants out [but, as mentioned, they are bantams]. They usually only graze on the lawn in the morning and afternoon but that could be because of our climate.

    [​IMG]

    They have a dust bath under a big tree:
    [​IMG]

    This is one of their garden beds:
    [​IMG]

    So, it really depends on why you want chickens. If you are not going into egg production, bantams may be the answer. However, they do go broody often. In my experience, my feather footed bantams are less destructive in the garden than non feather footed breeds.

    But, I do think, if you plan it, you can have chickens and a nice garden/lawn [I do spend a bit of time sweeping paths [​IMG]]

    I have a compost bin, which I am sure they think is a bug dispenser .. When I take off the lower doors to retrieve some compost they come running and have a feast [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
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  6. June2012

    June2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    @Teila We meet again! Oh, how I love your posts. I do want chickens because of their eggs, and of course their sweet nature. I completely forgot about bantams though! Would mixing bantams and standard sized chickens do much harm? I would like bigger eggs, but I primarily wanted so many chickens because I wanted blue, chocolate, maybe green, eggs. Thank you for the reminder -- I forgot that I could have smaller chickens that would do less harm to the backyard. [​IMG]

    But I'm a little confused as to why bantams go broody more. How so?
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2017
  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    Hey June

    Sorry, yes, I remembered after posting we had a long discussion regarding rentals .. my bad, I obviously post on BYC a bit and lose track of who I have and have not spoken to [​IMG]

    Nice to see you again!

    Some bantams lay a nice sized egg, not huge but OK.

    I have not actually mixed standard and bantam chickens together but I have read that it can be done and they get along. However, I think some care needs to be put into selecting the breeds; you would not want a standard chicken picking on the littlies.
     
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  8. June2012

    June2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No need at all! :) I post so little I remember [​IMG]

    What breeds do you have, or did you already tell me that? Apologies if I forgot.
     
  9. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    I think we were focusing more on the rental side in previous discussions and did not get to breeds.

    I have 2 x Pekins [bantam Cochins]
    1 x Frizzle Pekin
    1 x Bantam Langshan and
    1 x Silky x Pekin

    I had a bantam Leghorn in the past, she laid a good sized egg but was a tad destructive on the garden. I have also had a couple of Silkies who only laid a smallish egg but the garden probably did not even notice they were there [​IMG]
     
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  10. June2012

    June2012 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you for the list. And I was curious about Leghorns and Silkies. You answered them right on. What a coincidence! Thanks! [​IMG]
     
    1 person likes this.

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