Pastured chickens, breeding groups question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by cafrhe, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. cafrhe

    cafrhe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2014
    Western central NJ
    I am trying to figure a few things out. We have had chickens since March after moving to 10 mostly wooded acres. We have close to an acre around the house of grass, the rest is woods which we are in the slow process of thinning out and cleaning up. We may get goats to help with getting rid of the multi-flora rose that infests NJ woods.

    My main objective for chicken raising is to give them pasture (whether in the woods or grassy area) where they do not destroy their living space. I had originally wanted to have different sized pens and rotate the girls with a mobile coop. They had other ideas and can fly higher than I anticipated, so they have been mostly free ranged this summer/fall. I did end up with a fairly large fenced area and kept the coop in 1 spot for the whole summer. I just moved it to my garden area and fenced some grass and some woods. They are being stubborn and flying over the fence to hang out around the house (which has lots of garden with bushes and dust bath spots. Then then range from the house to the yard and leaf litter to scratch.

    Recently we visited a breeder with in a suburban area whose entire back yard was chicken pens. Maybe 5'x 20' per family unit--1 roo with 3-4 hens, dirt floors. I was impressed with the number of chickens he had on such a small area-not that I want to emulate him.

    We are selling eggs and have been contemplating the future--how many chickens do we want? Now we are also considering breeding pure breds/rare breeds and considering how we would set up family runs and still keep my overall goal of 'pastured' chickens.

    My main questions are:

    If I kept my main flock fenced in, what would be the size needed to keep them in one place and keep their area healthy? I saw one number of 400 sq ft/chicken. Will that number mean that their pasture does not degrade in quality? I am also considering keeping them in the woods to take advantage of all of the leaf litter and rotting trees. I think I would have at least 2 large fenced areas and at least do a summer/winter rotation. Right now I have 16 adults (1 roo), 4 Ameraucana chicks and 3 Rhodebar developing eggs under a broody hen.

    2nd question--If I fenced in family unit sized areas, could I maintain healthy pasture at all? I imagine 1 rooster and up to 5 hens. So 6 chickens at 400 sq ft ea is 2,400 sq foot area. A 50'x50' pen.

    So far I have not put in any permanent fencing. We have welded wire with t-posts that we move when we want to. I would like to set up some permanent fencing and make it a bit sturdier/safer.


    Coop-wise- I have 2 on wheels, one 8x10, 1 4x7 and I have a small coop 5'x4' that is not mobile, though we can move it if we want to.

    Anyway...just looking for ideas from people who may have done this type of thing before or have similar type set ups.

    thanks!

    Jennifer
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2014
  2. cafrhe

    cafrhe Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 23, 2014
    Western central NJ
    Wondering if maybe this question is in the wrong topic....I actually think I tried to post it to Managing your Flock (clearly failed lol)

    Of course, I have been reading more about pasturing and probably answered one of my questions--It would be good to have 2 large pastures to rotate so the worm/bacteria cycles are broken.
     
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I think that your question(s) is(are) complicated and way more than a lot of the members here contemplate let alone have experience with.

    You could click the red flag on your first post and ask the moderator to move the thread to the Managing your Flock forum, they are real good about stuff like that, might get more feedback there.

    These are the only two straight up questions I saw in your first post:
    If I kept my main flock fenced in, what would be the size needed to keep them in one place and keep their area healthy? I saw one number of 400 sq ft/chicken. Will that number mean that their pasture does not degrade in quality?

    There are no pat answers to these questions, which may be why you didn't get any, as it depends on your particular pastures and what are growing on them. It can depend on the time of year too, and your climate.
    Putting your location in your profile can help folks give more viable suggestions/answers.


    Sounds like you have figured some of it out, rotational pastures can be very good for both parasites and vegetation management and after you do 2 of them for a year or so you'll have a pretty good idea of what your land can handle and how to manage it.

    Best of luck to you!
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2014
  4. cafrhe

    cafrhe Chillin' With My Peeps

    331
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    Apr 23, 2014
    Western central NJ
    Thanks Aart...I had no idea how to get the attention of the moderators!

    I see internet searches for me during the cold winter...I am sure we will figure things out as we go along, but do appreciate seeing how others have managed so as not to reinvent the wheel.

    We didnt really think a lot about breeding (except just having the roo and girls and seeing what happened) until the one of our girls went seriously broody. We found hatching eggs 45 mins away and decided to give it a try. I was impressed with the breeder's variety and success he was having with selling hatching eggs and chicks. He was very excited about his chickens.

    I am in central NJ. I consider it fairly moderate climate--except for last winter lol! I do have good soil and varied terrain. I do have a couple of images on byc of where my chickens spent most of their time this past year.
     

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