I regaled you with factors
affecting chicken pasture size requirements last time, so now it's time
for our specific example. Starting this fall, I plan to have an
eight chicken permanent flock (seven hens and a rooster), and I'd like
to raise 30 to 40 broilers next year. How many square feet of
pasture would I need?
Let's look at how one
pasture is doing right now, in early August. I currently have
seven adult (or near adult) hens and
nine chicks (about 3 adult equivalents) in chicken pasture 3. The
pasture is still recovering a bit from being overgrazed last month, but
pretty lush (other than the bare spot in the shade where everyone hangs
out during the heat of the day.)
My gut feeling is that this
900 square foot pasture can handle the flock for a week with no
degradation while providing maximum forage to offset feed costs.
Factoring in my three pasture rotation, that would come to 270 square
feet of pasture per bird at the peak of our food scrap season. I
might need 500 square feet per bird in the dead of winter to keep the
same flock going without seeing chicken poop and bare ground.
(Clearly, I'm a snob
since the highly regarded Label Rouge system in France requires only 27
square feet per bird.
That's the difference between your chickens getting a significant
amount of their nutrition from pasture versus keeping just enough
greenery around that your plants can nibble a bit.)
So how much pasture
would I need for my ambitious broiler plan next year? About 4800
square feet if I raise four broods of ten chicks each. Since we
currently have about 3,150 square feet of pasture separated into five
paddocks, I guess we need to finish up at least two more pastures by
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