Chicken keeper and author Joel Salatin took one of the chicken industry’s most innovative activities to the forefront. It’s called “rotational grazing,” and for a natural chicken keeper, it’s one of the better choices. Of course, due to space constraints, not everyone has the luxury of pasture rising or rotational grazing. Currently, on an acre or less, most modern homesteaders and back yard chicken keepers work. However, depending on the flock size, rotational grazing is absolutely achievable, even in small spaces.
You’ll want to make sure that your pasture is well defined if you’re starting from scratch. Do it in the early spring until the soil gets too wet, or in the fall for spring growing, if you need to reseed grass with a pasture blend, and also with herbs. With a very light coating of grass, cover your seeds. If you’d like you can even add waste, soil, or fertilizer. A little goes a really long way.
You can see the grass take root over the next few weeks and rising soon. You can continue with your rotational grazing once your pasture has reached a suitable level.
The goal is to sell your chickens at least three or four separate paddocks to graze in, giving at least 2 weeks (preferably 4 weeks) before the rotation all over again starts. In larger spaces, it is ideal to accommodate 30 days between starting all over again on paddock number one, so it is a huge benefit for smaller spaces to allow at least 2 weeks.
You can quickly rotate your flocks (meat birds and layers) on a regular basis if you have a wider area with pasture-ranging configurations in mobile chicken tractors, never letting them touch the same room twice in a 30- to 60-plus-day cycle.
Rotational grazing not only allows the grass to root deeper into the ground, thereby making a much more fertile pasture, but it is also better to be on a rotational grazing method with your poultry.
Here’s why your flock and your land have normal and advantageous rotational grazing:
Fewer parasites are present. When the chickens graze rotationally, they would be even less likely to develop internal and external parasites. This is because they are not continuously in touch with their feces, the feces of other creatures, or the dirt they are stepping on. Rotation helps the parasites to die off or dissipate in manure and in the soil when they do not have a host to occupy. This means that you significantly decrease the risk of having parasites (like worms) and bacteria (like coccidiosis).
It increases the output of forage. Because of the fact that you do not overgraze and ruin the pasture, rotational grazing will increase foraging productivity by 30 to 70 percent. For the land and for the eggs, more fertility!
Your chickens will be used for tilling and washing. Outside of the box, dream! Rotate them in your garden areas instead of just rotating chickens on lawn and pasture, as well. Place your chickens in your garden area in the winter so that they till it up and fertilize it all winter long. Place them back out on pasture to forage freely as spring arrives and start back up with weekly rotations. You should rotate the chickens behind your rotation of larger livestock if you have major livestock, including cows or sheep, which helps the chickens to clean up their mess. Chickens will have an important service by sorting from cow patties and getting rid of fly larvae and other unwanted ones!
A lower bill for feeding. Yep, during the most active foraging seasons, your feed bill will be nonexistent. When granted the possibility and natural ability to forage, your chickens would become experienced foragers. This would decrease the feed bill dramatically.
The rotational feeding of your cattle has lots of other advantages. If we want to get down to the science details, the list is really never-ending, so I’ll save you time.