# How much land can a chicken clear/forage?

Discussion in 'DIY / Self Sufficiency' started by beautifulpirate, Apr 16, 2016.

1. ### beautifulpirateChirping

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Mar 10, 2016
OK, We are nearly done building our first chicken coop so this is a log ways off, but I hope in a couple years time, to make our land fairly self sufficient. And I am a planner so I think about stuff like this daily... Jot down notes, sketch plans on graph paper, etc.

What I want to know is how much square footage can be cleared per chicken per season? I want to build a fence enclosed multi plot garden with an attached coop so that we can release the chickens into different "runs" during different seasons, effectively letting them clear the ground as much as possible all the while fertilizing as they go. So when we move them into the next run, we are nearly ready to plant with minimal work in the previous plot.

Just trying to figure out the math so I can figure out my specs per how many birds we want. Does anyone have any experience?

2. ### 1muttsfanFree Ranging

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Mar 26, 2011
Upper Peninsula Michigan
That really depends on how much forage you have. Taller plants with more leafage are going to last longer. Chickens when confined will certainly clear any area down to the dirt between eating and scratching.

Generally for comfort's sake, each bird should have about 10 square feet of run. So depending on the area of each section you plan to make, you can calculate how many birds can be decently housed.

3. ### beautifulpirateChirping

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Mar 10, 2016

When it is all said and done, the birds will have much more space than that anyway. The various plots will have quite a bit of growth from the end of seasons garden. But they will also have a permanent covered run so they can get out of the sun during hot weather and out of inclement weather as well. They'll have access to both the covered run which by itself would be enough for 25 birds, and one of the garden plots at a time.

Really just curious about the numbers. I know some people move chicken tractors for similar purposes and was curious to see their specs (ie how many birds, how much space in the tractor, how often they need to move it, etc)

4. ### 1muttsfanFree Ranging

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Mar 26, 2011
Upper Peninsula Michigan
The generally recommended space in a coop is 4 square feet of floor space per bird. Some people think that with a tractor less is needed as at least theoretically the tractor is moved often. However, those recommendations are to allow birds space enough to prevent crowding, picking and bullying, and for comfort, not necessarily based on space required for just surviving.
Some folks have a fixed coop and run, and use a tractor for just short periods of time and/or for just part of the flock at a time.

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Jun 22, 2013
NJ
If you want to be self sufficient, and feed very little, you're gonna need about 900 sq ft per chicken.

6. ### beautifulpirateChirping

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Mar 10, 2016
I'm not asking how much space chickens need nor am I trying to go without feeding my chickens. I solely want to know how much space can chickens clear in order to discern how much work they can do on my garden when the season is over, in order to save me the back breaking work of clearing it and tearing it all up in preparation for next years garden.

Really though, it's not a big deal. I'll just try to figure it out myself via trial and error since there doesn't seem to be much information on the subject. The goats will likely go in too.

7. ### LeroySouthpawChirping

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Apr 5, 2016
West Virginia
My neighbors do something similar to what you are describing. Their tractor is roughly 8x15 with an elevated coop about 8x7(?). I only ever see it from the road, those are the best guesses.

Their plot that they run the chickens on is just a little smaller than the deer netting they put over top of it (7ft x 100ft) and they have around 25 chickens. They moved their birds their about 4-6 weeks ago and the grass is getting sparse. It always takes longer for the last remnants to get eaten since they aren't the favorites and can be toxic.

Last year they had a flock of 15 guineas in the same size run and it only took them a couple of months to decimate the area. I'll admit, I'm sort of stealing this idea from them myself. Only in this case, I'm releasing my flock of 20 into my 80 x 60 garden for the winter when everything goes dormant. I figure they'll keep the soil soft and weeds out till the following spring.

Hope this helps.

NOTE: If I were you, I would give them the recommended 10 sq ft per bird. It shouldn't take more than half the summer to remove all greenery (depending on rainfall and rate of growth, of course). Give them the full season (Summer and Winter) before you move them and the ground should be like powder, well fertilized and not a weed seed in sight.

Last edited: Apr 21, 2016
8. ### njalHatching

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May 8, 2015
Hi There,

My 6 chickens can clear down to nothing about 1400 sq feet per season without breaking a sweat. That is eating 90% of the plant life and turning the soil over in search of bugs/etc. They may have been able to do much more but they are pretty well fed in general. Based on my birds, I think you could easily strip and clear 300-400 sq foot per bid per season.

I rotate the chickens depending on season between a 1400 sq foot fenced (35'x40') garden area and a 1/2 acre main plot. I have very little work to do before planting in the smaller fenced area each spring. Once the crops mature and are harvested I'll rotate the chickens back in (and sometimes during the season if there are bug issues).

Thanks, Jeremy

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9. ### JackAubreyIn the Brooder

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Dec 30, 2010
Wow! That means my 10 chickens have 10 square feet per bird in the fort! Ha!