Forrest Pritchard is a full-time sustainable farmer and New York Times bestselling author, holding a BA in English and a BS in Geology from William & Mary. Smith Meadows, his farm, was one of the first “grass finished” operations in the country, and has sold at leading farmers’ markets in Washington DC for nearly two decades. Pritchard's first two books received starred reviews from The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and NPR, and his latest book is set to debut in 2018.

35 responses to “Mob Grazing with Chickens”

  1. Ryan Heneise

    Fascinating! I have always had problems with nets shorting in tall grass. How do you deal with that problem?

  2. Ryan Heneise

    Thanks Forrest – that bigger charger would probably help a lot. Currently we use a portable solar charger from Premier One, but our soil is so sandy and dry that it only works well if I mow the grass before moving the fence. To me, mowing kind of defeats the purpose of mob grazing chickens.

    We have our current flock of layers (about 50) in a mobile coop with the portable fence around it. Each day I open the fence and allow them to roam around the pasture. Not mob grazing exactly, but they do help a great deal with our grasshoppers.

    Our property is too small to support more than one or two cows, so it’s great to see somebody mob grazing with just chickens. I love Joel Salatin, but it’s sometimes discouraging to try to scale his ideas down to our size.

  3. Craig

    Thanks Forrest for the article, really enjoyed it, and your book! One question, in reading your book I know you don’t do any haying on your farm, so what do you do with the 15 acres the year it’s resting with no animals on it?

  4. Darienne C.

    Hi Forrest, this article was a joy to read. As a lover of feathered things and current student pursuing a degree in sustainable agriculture in Vermont, this pastured production model is very appealing to me as I think about my future. I had a few questions, though: What do you do about storing and distributing their feed and water? Do you have grain bins and water tanks nearby?

  5. Gregorio Rodriguez

    Hello Forrest, thanks for the information, this will be very helpfull for us. Can you please send me the information of where can I get the fence? The company that produce it. Thanks a lot for the article and for your helpfull

  6. Scotty

    ok, so I have 1 acre and that is it.. How many birds can I run on an acre? Can you tell me how to figure that out?

  7. Jeffrey McAvoy

    Hello I like the concept, I have a small area to pasture a total of 5acres of great pasture and 5acres of poor… I really donot want to have that much chickens have you seen any success with rotating sheep and after they graze bring in the chickens,I was thinking around 10 sheep how many chickens would you suggest with the sheep?

  8. sam


    For you feeding is that 1/3 lb per bird per day?

  9. Julie

    Curious if you have had any loss from aerial predators? We’d like to try this concept this spring.

  10. Erin Roethlisberger

    Hi Forrest, Just a quick question – on your quick tips sheet, you say to maintain a reading of 4.0 on the fence – 4.0 what? This seems high to be the joule output of the energizer – since Kencove recommends 0.25 per net as a minimum, this seems like the latter be much too low to be of use against predators! Also, any ideas on how many joules per (single 165′ net) keeps the output at 4.0? Thanks, Erin

    1. Josh

      Erin, he means 4,000 volts I believe. The tester(assuming you have digital) should say 4.0, which you multiply by 1,000 to know how many volts your fence is putting out. Make sure and test as far away from the energizer as possible.

  11. Josh Taylor

    Are your layers producing dark-yolked eggs?

  12. Brad Muesing

    Good job forrest

  13. e

    nothing like some fried chicken

  14. Pasture Management | I Wanna Farm

    […] 1. Mob Grazing with Chickens by Forrest Pritchard. […]

  15. americanslumdogmillionaireCarolyn

    Great idea! I do have a few questions, though;

    (1) To echo a person above, what do you do with the 15 acres of field while it is resting from the chicken and livestock rounds? Do you do any planting?

    (2) Have you considered combining your current method with the multi-species, mob grazing with “resting” cover crops , and then roller-crimping it down to further improve soil nutrition and water retention? If so, what would this look like from a practical perspective in terms of timing/scheduling, before you brought the birds and other animals back in?

  16. Jim

    Hi Forrest, I just found this great site. Thanks for publishing it. My organic feed supplier recommends only 2 – ounces of feed daily per layer. Is this enough in your opinion? Our birds graze all day every day.
    Also, I can plant some special type of grass if you think one is better than another. Right now we seem to have crabgrass mostly believe that I can do better.
    Best Regards,

  17. Jim

    Thanks my friend. Take care and have a good day.

  18. Jim

    I have just been reading about Allan Savory and I watched his TED talk video. I like the idea and was wondering if your method is based on Mr. Savory’s practices? I would like to understand the deep, deep science behind this. Do you know of any research articles that explain this in great detail?
    If you are too busy to reply I understand perfectly well.
    Thank you for the great website and help.

  19. Jim

    Sorry for being a pest. I have already got some of the ground turned over ready for seed. Could you please recommend chicken forage seeds that can be planted now or soon?

  20. Jim

    Thanks Forrest, I am ordering seeds now.

  21. PowerHouse Growers Raising Your Own Chickens: The Underrated Players

    […] thus increasing the fertility of the soil. New sustainable practices now utilize chickens in a rotating movement with grazing animals so that when your cows and sheep come back to the same patch the chickens have […]

  22. Mob Grazing | a pinch of homestead

    […] only have they scratched and eaten all the pests they could find, but they’ve done a lot of mob grazing and […]

  23. Patrick

    Thanks for the article! I run a vegetable farm in Virginia and I plan to raise pastured laying hens on a few slivers of land along my crops. I will maintain a small buffer between the chickens and the crops to maintain sanitary conditions. I want to raise at least 100 layers and I have at least four 80ft long 7ft wide alleys to rotate them in. Do you think this is enough pasture? If so, how often do you think I should rotate them?

  24. Jason

    Great article! I was curious how often you clean out the coops and if you have problems with mites, as well as what are your thoughts on a mobile coop rather than a stationary coop for this type of grazing?

    Thanks Jason

  25. Chris Glasspool

    Even though, my goals and geography, mean that the methods would need to be very different. The basic methodology and science apply to what I want to do. My goals differ because my property is very steep and hilly. My goals are first to reduce fuels for wild fires, and money made will only offset costs, not profit. Fences will need to be permanent, and I may use heritage turkeys instead of chickens. Thanks for the great article.

Leave a Reply