How much space do chickens need on pasture

Chickens on an acre pastureAnother chicken pasture
question that’s been tough for me to answer is — How much space do
chickens need on pasture?  Of course, the amount of space you need
per bird is going to depend on a lot of factors including:

  • the size and age of your birds
  • the quality
    of your pasture
  • whether you want your chickens to get much forage from the
    pasture or just not scratch the ground bare
  • how often you rotate your chickens from paddock to paddock

But I finally found a
starting point from the data in
Raising Poultry on Pasture.  One mainstream
broiler producer felt that his chickens needed 10 square feet of
pasture per bird per week when they were full grown.  In France,
the Label Rouge system has strict requirements that amount to allowing
27 square feet of pasture per bird for their broilers (including the
time when chicks aren’t fully grown and eat less.)  Although the
Label Rouge chickensnumber seems much higher than
the American square footage, you should keep in mind that the operation
in question didn’t rotate chickens between pastures, so the birds’ yard
really amounted to about 5 square feet of pasture per bird per week for
the 5.6 weeks that the chickens were on pasture.

As I plan new pastures
for 2011, I’m using 10 square feet of pasture per bird per week as our
bare minimum.  I hope to find time to build enough pastures so
99 cent pasture ebookthat we don’t have to rotate our chickens back into the same pasture
more than once every few months, although I might experiment with
shorter rotations — one week on, one week off — as well.  I’ll
keep my eye on the pastures, though, and will consider drastically
shifting my plans if the ground begins to look bare.  After all,
pasture rotation is really an art, not a science.

Our chicken waterer makes pastured poultry so
easy, you might forget about them.

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