Want to keep bug populations high: how many chickens?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by punk-a-doodle, Jul 24, 2013.

  1. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    2,953
    127
    213
    Apr 15, 2011
    I live in central TX, and just purchased about 2 acres of land. Part of that will not be accessible to chickens as there is a house, will be a fencec garden, and there will be a small fenced small animal breeding area for educational programs. We have rich and varied arthropod/bug life on our land from the smewhat unpleasant (red wasps, ants including invasives, mosquitoes) to the type I am excited to see (dung beetles, beetles in general, grasshoppers, mantids, velvet "ants", etc). I was originally going to get a good ammount of chickens for meat and eggs, but I am really fond of having all these bugs around, and the reptiles and birds that eat them. People remark that when their chickens moved in, their bugs moved out (or rather, moved into the chickens' stomachs). What kind of stocking density can my land handle that will allow the bugs to keep flourishing?

    I was thinking of having a pet egg layer, and then a breeding trio of dorkings who would vary in numbers as we would eat their offspring. Let's be conservative and say that 4-10 chickens would have 1.2 acres of land to roam in central TX. Would that wipe out my bugs? I hope to have a compost pile, a butterfly/hummingbird garden (open to the chickens), and various micro-habitats to encourage insect life, and plan to farm crickets and beetles to feed to my chickens to hopefully curb their hunger for native bugs.
     
  2. txnative

    txnative Chirping

    196
    13
    88
    Apr 30, 2013
    Kempner, Texas
    Call the county ag extension agent - they might be able to help with that.
     
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    20,786
    6,591
    586
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have a flock centered around house where roughly 80% is mowed as yard grass mixed w/ several legume species. Perimeter has various weeds with some push 8 feet tall. With on a breeding pair and one brood of chicks I can keep all matter of insects year round. More birds, especially during drought and all insects take a major hit. The tall weeds are critical in providing cover for some insects and also work to make it so birds forage those areas heavier leaving much of the mowed areas relatively untouched by foraging birds. Patches, think patch with lots of edge between high weeds and short grass.
     
  4. punk-a-doodle

    punk-a-doodle Songster

    2,953
    127
    213
    Apr 15, 2011
    Thank you! Waiting to hear back from the county ag ext, and excited to hear you have been able to keep your biodiversity centrarchid. I think I will start with just three birds (one pet, one Dorking breeding pair) and see how it goes. I'm shooting for a blue or green egg layer so it'll be obvious which eggs are for eating and which are for allowing to hatch occasionally since the Dorkings lay white or cream. Our set-up sound some what's similar to yours in that we are mowing around the house, but are letting the perimeter and other 1+ acre grow fairly wild.
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    20,786
    6,591
    586
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Consider allowing islands of taller mixed vegetation to come up. Also, a lawn with a diverse plant assemblage, especially including legumes and warm season grasses as patches can help. I went about seeding yard in strips of various forages. The forages come of value at different times and support needs of different insects.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: