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 Joel
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.)
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.
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 broilers? Our first batch of broilers in 2012 ate 11.9 pounds of feed apiece during their three months of life:
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 my 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:
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 my 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.
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