Stock density of day-range freedom rangers and rotation schedule


In the Brooder
8 Years
Jul 22, 2011
I am looking for some information (without buying a book) about the stock density of day range chickens; IE 500 per ace? Also, what is the allotted amount of time they are allowed on that area, and how long does the used area need to rest?

I am looking to raise about 2500 freedom rangers for direct marketing next year and am trying to evaluate if I have enough acreage. I have about 7 acres and the ability to raise the chickens year round. So with an 11 week turn around and only 7 of those weeks on range, I would only have about 650-700 on range at any given time.
I'm also looking for this info, but on a smaller scale for one acre. I've looked around and have seen numbers from 50-400 birds per acre so I'm not sure either. Our county agents don't have any numbers for chickens but we do have a cow density number of 2.5, Here is a calculator but I can't figure out how to use it! Hopefully someone with some experience will post an answer here. My current plan is to divide the acre into 8 paddocks, start with 100 FRs on the first paddock, rotate to the next when the grass gets to about 2 inches, and give each paddock about 21 days to rest.
There are 43,560 sq ft in an acre. Here is my take on the math.

If you have 700 birds free ranging at one time on 7 acres, it gives each bird 435.6 sq ft to range on. I feel that is more than adequate.
Have you raised any FR or other type meat bird before?

Don't take this the wrong way, but how is this relevant to my question?
The problem is that you don't want to over fertilizer and have chickens scratch up all the roots to the grass and suddenly have fields of dust. In rotational grazing, you wear a portion of your field down, move the animal/s to a new portion and let the old rejuvenate.

Also 2500-3000 will be on range in a year, so the math is all thrown off.

However, thank you for your reply.
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You might look up info on Joel Saladin. He is a farmer who speaks professionally and writes books about sustainable farming. He has a video that I saw that shows how to raise meat birds in a chicken tractor which is moved daily so as not to damge the grass rootsystem. You can also use solar powered electric fence netting which can be moved daily. It is pretty interesting stuff, and his methods are used with cattle, pigs, and rabbits, too.
Have you raised any FR or other type meat bird before?

Don't take this the wrong way, but how is this relevant to my question?

Not speaking for Craig, but 3,000 chickens in a year is a huge jump for anyone, especially one that hasn't had experience in it. Not saying that is the case, nor is it my business but if it is the case I would suggest starting off with 50 at a time and not 600-700 at a time. I mean even if you did much smaller numbers over the course of a growing season you could easily hit that number. So with that said, what is your growing season for grass? Even with year round production you typically can't grow them year round on grass. Either cold winters or dry/drought summers.

I would say 8 months on the liberal side and if you did them in batches of every 2 weeks you are looking at 6 grow out batches at any given time. Personally what I would do in your situation and I'm only speaking for what I would do. What you do is totally up to you. With having experience in doing large batches year round, I would steer away from year round production, it's horrible and you will need the rest. Especially if you do your own processing, I'm assuming you would because honestly it's the only way to make it in this business.

1) So with a 32 week grow out period you are looking at 16 batches of 200. Basically 200 in every two weeks for 32 weeks (8 months).

2) I would have 6 acres designated for my birds. Personally in this situation I would have a brooder/house in the middle of each acre. Each acre would have four paddocks that would be divided off and rotated weekly for the duration of the 12 weeks. With having 6 of these in production, you could count on processing about 187 or about 93 1/2% every two weeks. Or, if you do a weekly market I would process the males at week 11 and the females at week 12. Which is what an experienced pastured poultry producer should shoot for... anything between 90% and 95% is great.

3) While doing this, you are rotating the pasture letting it sit 21 days before hitting it again. Plenty of time for free ranging birds. Which your space per bird would be more like... 50 square feet / bird.

Think in terms of small batches, not huge groups of 600-700. 1 acre is easier to manage than 7. So keep it simple, it's the best way.
200 hundred in each paddock. So in all you would have 1200 birds at any given time. In the course of 32 weeks you should have processed around 3,000 birds depending on how many make it to processing weight.

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