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# chickens in Geoff Lawton's video?

 
Dave Aiken
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I recently watched geoff lawton's online video about permaculture and surviving "crises." About half-way through, he walks through a system in which chickens are used to denude and lightly till and area as the first stage of developing a food forest. He used 50 meters (10m on 2 sides and 15 m on 2 sides) of fence to confine chickens within a 150 square meter (10m x 15m) area for 10 days. What I didn't catch is the number of chickens he had in this area, which is important to know if you them to do a sufficient amount of "work" in 10 days. Does anybody know this number?

Note, this was a free online video put out in the last couple months, not his food forest DVD.Thanks in advance.

 
Craig Dobbson
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It looked to me like about 30-50. If you have more birds you'll just have to move them more frequently or add more supplemental feed.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think in this context the idea is to use a lot of birds so they will clear the area for planting food forest.

 
Craig Dobbson
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Tyler Ludens wrote:I think in this context the idea is to use a lot of birds so they will clear the area for planting food forest.



Exactly. More birds will clear it quicker, but you also have to have a place for the birds to go to after they are done working that area. If you have acres to work with then you could probably clear it in such a way that as you clear the last piece of land, you also harvest the birds.

Let's say you have a piece of land that you want to clear for a food forest AND you also want to raise a flock of meat birds. For sake of argument let's also say that the birds will spend 12 weeks on pasture.

Take the total area to be cleared, divide by 12 (weeks). Then calculate how many birds it would take to clear ONE section of that pasture in 7 days. That is the number of birds you should raise.

I figure they won't likely clear each section at the same rate. Younger birds won't eat as much and they won't be as efficient at scratching so the first areas may take longer to clear. Then again, as the season progresses there will be more vegetation in those areas yet to be Chicken-tilled. Anyway you want enough birds to overwhelm the area you wish to clear.

 
Dave Aiken
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...I figure they won't likely clear each section at the same rate. Younger birds won't eat as much and they won't be as efficient at scratching so the first areas may take longer to clear. Then again, as the season progresses there will be more vegetation in those areas yet to be Chicken-tilled.


I have raised broilers before, and yes, they certainly eat and scratch an area more at 10 weeks than they do at 5 weeks old. I raised 25 birds in a 60 sq foot "tractor." I moved the tractor about once a day, but my goal was bird growth and health, not to denude all vegetation. In fact, I wanted to promote vegetation for the next season as the area was a hay field my landlord was nice enough to let me use. Anyway, what I found was that the real need to move the tractor was manure coverage, not lack of vegetation. In a larger fenced area, the birds would run around and scratch and the manure would be less concentrated, which is good for bird health but may also promote more scratching and eating. But my tractoring experience has led me to wonder if the area would really look like it did in the video after 10 days. I think there would still be a lot of grass and plants left, and the roots certainly wouldn't be dug up and turned over. In the video, the plot they just moved the chickens from looked like it had been tilled. And maybe a shallow, one-time tillage job would be OK for that specific application.
 
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