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Prospecting Future Farmer

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Angela Reitan, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. Angela Reitan

    Angela Reitan New Egg

    Aug 3, 2014
    I intend to own my own farm in about 5-7 years. My plan is to be as self sufficient as possible, and chickens are a part of that plan, as is a 1 acre garden/orchard. Could a space of that size with grass, fruits and vegetables feed 15-20 chickens and 2-3 roosters? What if all of the pathways were gravel instead of grass? I know that doesn't really give you a good idea about the actual area of vegetative growth, so I found these to kind of illustrate what I had in mind.

    Would grass be better for the space between the boxes or gravel? We have already build the above layout, only the boxes were taller and the space between each one was filled with gravel, however, this was for my grandmothers backyard, not a farm also supporting the welfare of animals. I'm just not sure if it would be better for the chickies if it were gravel, because that would mean less food, but it would be easier to maintain.

    This is not what the coops would look like, but I would like them in the garden, only with the doors constantly open so they can get in and out. I would want to make the fencing foolproof to ground predators, such as coyotes and wolves.

    Predation is a major concern of mine and one that might kill my "100% free range" dream. I intended to allow the chickens to roam freely in the garden, but I'm not sure how to go about protecting them from predators. There would be nearby livestock guardian animals, and roosters, and plenty of shelter built around the garden. I'm just curious what your experiences have been and what advice will guide me towards that plan.

    Also, is 1 acre garden/vegetable garden/orchard sufficient to support about 15-20 chickens at a time? Whether it's gravel ground or grass/dirt?

    I'm sorry if I sound illiterate right now and most likely haven't communicated my questions very well.
    Just got off a ten hour shift, but hopefully someone out there understands my plight, LOL.
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    You will have to import some grain onto a 1 acre patch when supporting a dozen birds. I could support a dozen birds possibly on three acres if I also had something like sheep grazing a part of it and much of the rest in legumes like white clover. Also consider patches of vegetation that provide cover. With respect to predators a combination of fencing and dog goes a long way but dog requires importing of feed as well. I would also manage so birds in flock a re hen raised late in season so you can keep a smaller number of hens in lay relative to the number of eggs produced. Bird population will need to fluctuate with season.

    Study heavily into use of plants as forage and also consider various methods to attract insect drift and culture / concentrate quality invertebrates in locations birds can harvest in a controlled manner.

    Location and ground quality also important. We have lost a concept of what it takes to be self sufficient and how managed areas for food approximate an ecosystem.
  3. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 7, 2012
    The pictures you show are certainly pretty, and to be admired... we could all dream of having a garden/yard so pretty. But those pictures are not compatible with your stated plan. Free ranging chickens would destroy such a garden before it even had a chance to get started. That pretty mulch... they would have a blast spreading it far and wide. Gravel in the pathways? Same thing. They will poop all over it, and turn it into dust baths. You COULD have a chicken tractor that would be sized to fit one of those beds. It would house 2 - 3 chickens comfortably. Then you could grow a chicken friendly crop, set the tractor over that crop and they would decimate it in about 3 day's time. If you allow free ranging chickens, you'll need to fence your garden in order to harvest ANY THING for yourself or them! And, you will need to provide a balanced feed for them. An example from my own experience: I'm on 4 acres with 1 acre cleared. Flock consists of 17 pullets/hens and one cockrel. Garden space including veggies and berries is about 40 x 40 and fenced in with deer fencing. Chickens have a 1600 s.f. run, and are out to free range daily. My lawn is covered with chicken bombs. There is poop on my walk ways, they will poop on my steps and deck if they get a chance. They love to explore in the garage if the door gets opened. I swear they are more curious than cats! They have turned all of my flower beds into dust bowls. I don't mind that so much, as the flower beds don't produce food, and I consider the chickens ranging on my lawn to be prettier than my flower beds! Just be prepared. Chickens are messy, they love nothing more than to shred a lawn or flower bed, mulch is meant to be flung far and wide. They will very happily rearrange your carefully thought out landscaping to suit their tastes, and it won't be what you had in mind. Your favorite, and I mean the very favorite of all of your favorite plants will be targeted by them for certain destruction. I love my chickens!
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I use smaller chicken tractors that could go down rows between raised gardens easily. With proper moving regimen the grass would persist. Would still need to import feed / grain to sustain egg production.

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