Yes your right it does take alot of time but it is so so worth it because I have gone to others breeders and most of them can get nowwhere near there birds because they run as fast as lightning and to me theres no reason to own them. Most of them I have visited only try to do the breeding to make money( which if you do it right there is no money in this hobby) instead of improving the breeds which I think is silly since we will always need good breeding stocks not just any birds that will mate.
I used to sell the eggs and ship them but then I would get people calling me saying there eggs didn't hatch because of my birds and then I had to explain to them that shipped eggs are notorious for not hatching or the air sacs being moved and by far the most factor is the Post Office. Until I showed them pics of my eggs hatching. So no right now I no longer ship eggs and all but my Blk Mutations and Ringnecks are still the only ones laying. I will only be selling the chicks from my birds.
As far as Free Ranging it all depends on the birds. The worst ones to stay around are the Ringnecks but I do have many that stay around or if they do get a FEATHER UP THERE BUTT and do fly away they seem to come back because they know where the food is. I have a female that flew away in January when the wind helped pick her up and I found that she came back with alot of surprises ( 9 little chicks) it is so cute and so surprising. She is now teaching the chicks that coming close to me isn't bad because they get alot of treats (watermelon COLD) they don't come as fast as the ones I raised but I was surprised they were coming close at all. I think the ornamentals (RED, Yellows, Amherst) are probably the best but there are many that will still fly away and you will never see them again well unless your neighbors calls you
As far as my flocks it depends on what time of year it is because during breeding season I will only keep 1 male and 4 females togethers because other wise they will fight. During breeding season I do normally keep them closer and not roam as much because if you do they will find many places to make nests and you will spend to much time looking for the eggs and worst of all could step on some that were hiddin.
But after breeding season I will normally let out all the chicks and 1 Adult Female out that I hatched out in a covered area so they can learn from her on what to do and where to lay. I have hatched out reeves this year and so far have kept them also with them but next week I will have to seperate them because I'm sure they will turn mean but for right now there have been the sweetest of them all. I don't know if this is normal with them because this is the first time I have owned them but while they are like this I will enjoy it. I do keep them covered at this point because we have many many Eagles and Hawks and I have lost a couple to them so I don't take that chance any longer.
Then in another area I will let all the others out. They are seperated but still can walk up to the fencing to see each other without hurting the chicks because they would kill them I think. I have 12-Red,10- Yellows, 10-Amherest, 2-Reeves, 6-Blk Mutations, 120-Ringnecks. I will be keeping some of my chicks but don't know how many yet. Probably a couple from each hatching.
Hope this helps you and if you have any other questions let me know,