How Many Chickens Per Acre?

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Free-range hens on spring grass on my farm.

What’s the maximum number of hens I can keep per acre? And what’s the downside of exceeding this? Why do I get answers all the way from one to a thousand? And, for that matter, what are the best tips for keeping free-range chickens?

After all, it’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud. Here’s how to avoid this.

Chickens are Hard on Grass

It’s discouraging when your chickens turn their nice grass range into a sea of mud.

By default, your chickens will destroy all the ground cover in the immediate vicinity of the chicken coop. They do this through a combination of eating the plants, scratching the ground cover with their claws, and covering everything with manure. This process is quite fast in the area around the house, especially in wet weather, when the ground is soft. Even a flock with just a few hens will denude the area right around the chicken coop. Further away, the process is slower.

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