Acreage to grow my own chicken feed


I’ve posted before about
much land you need to pasture your chickens
, but what if you wanted to
become totally chicken self-sufficient and grow your own feed
too?  For the sake of simplicity, I’m going to use
Salatin’s feed recipes
and will assume you want to keep buying the ingredients other than
grains and soybeans.  (I’ve also included all of my math so you
can correct me if I’m wrong.)

Let’s start with laying
hens.  How much corn, soybeans, and oats does a single bird eat
per year?  (Keep in mind that these figures assume your hen is
getting no nutrition from pasture, so hopefully your actual feed usage
will be a bit lower.)

Ingredient Pounds/hen/day
in summer
in winter (coldest areas)
pounds/hen/year (assuming 120 day winter)
Corn 0.12425 0.1988 54.29725
Soybeans 0.077 0.1232 33.649
Oats 0.02725 0.0436 11.90825

Now, let’s convert that
into land area.  In the following table, bushels per acre will
depend on your climate and the quality of your land — I’ve used U.S.
figures from factory farms.  What I haven’t factored in at all is
succession planting — you could potentially grow a winter grain then
soybeans in the same field during one year.  So, if anything, I’m
overestimating the acreage you need to feed your flock.

Ingredient Pounds/bushel Bushels/hen/year Bushels/acre Acres/hen/yr
Corn 56 0.9696 150 0.00646
Soybeans 60 0.5608 40 0.01402
Oats 32 0.3721 63 0.00591

Based on my math, a
single hen would consume the harvest from 0.02639 acres of corn,
soybeans, and oats.  Our current flock of eight hens and a rooster
would need just shy of a quarter of acre to feed them — not too bad!

How about our
first batch of broilers in 2012 ate 11.9 pounds of feed apiece during
their three months of life

Ingredient Total
Bushels/broiler Acres/broiler
Corn 6.188 0.1105 0.00074
Soybeans 3.451 0.0575 0.00144
Oats 1.309 0.0409 0.00065

So, our broilers needed
0.00283 acres apiece to produce their feed.  Since we’re planning
on raising around 45 broilers this year, that comes to about an eighth
of an acre to feed the meat flock.  (Keep in mind that
heirloom broilers

are very different from Cornish Cross.  You’d probably raise half
as many mainstream broilers to match the same amount of meat we get
from our Australorps, but would feed roughly the same amount or a
little less.)

That means our total
acreage to keep two people very well fed with chickens and eggs for a
year is:

Pasture 0.1371
Feed for 8 hens and a rooster 0.23751
Feed for 45 broilers 0.12735
Total 0.50196

Giving two people all
the white meat, eggs, and bone broth they need from a quarter of an
acre apiece seems like a bargain!  If you aren’t sick of math, you
might also like to read
math on the total land area we use to grow the rest of our food
.  And please do let me
know if you check my  numbers and they don’t come out straight.

Our chicken waterer  is the POOP-free
alternative to traditional filthy waterers.

Latest Comments

  1. Dave V. June 18, 2012
  2. anna June 24, 2012
  3. Paul April 30, 2013
  4. anna May 6, 2013
  5. Paul May 21, 2013

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