Free ranging your flock, by one who free ranges.

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  1. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
    Note that by no means I am an expert. This is information I have gathered by observation and reading. I mean free ranging as in without perimeter fences or anything, so you understand what I mean.
    I free range my chickens. My dream farm is on at least twenty acres, with huge multiple acre pens for each breed, and their own pens too of course. But we have an acre, and that kind of farm can be expensive, so we have one acre and choose to free range them. Doing this takes a certain kind of flexibility, it may not always work out.
    These are some problems that come along.
    Locking them up at night
    When we lock them in for breeding, they may get agitated.
    In the winter, we keep them inside due to subzero temperatures
    Predators. We have only lost one bird to them, since we live in an area where predators are scarce. That is the reason we run the risk of free ranging. If you have daytime predators, don't free range.
    Only for the breeds that can handle it. Bantams are easier predator targets.
    Neighbors, we have none within an eighth mile. If you have some next door, and you live in the city, don't do it.
    Catching them.
    Why I like it:
    Gives them a variety of food.
    Cheaper, no artificial light, we also need less windows.
    With us living on an acre with fields around and an enormous shed in the middle, and a mound and an old concrete cow yard it would be difficult to separate it into breeding pens for different breeds. We just have a chicken tractor and some cages that we separate the chickens out in to a different times of the year.
    Cost. It costs less to free range. The cost of feeding, fencing, and lightning/windows is less.

    Honestly, I would only recommend free ranging to those with few predators, no next door neighbors, little land, are willing to lock them up at night, catch them, and if you live in a temperate climate, not during winter. Our chickens enjoy it, but you also have to pick the right breeds. All large fowl, except white Cornish cross fare fine. Some delicate bantams have trouble, and free ranging with its dampness, can cause feather footed chickens to wreck their feathered feet. It's just one of those things that works well for me that I wouldn't recommend to others.
    And remember to give them well ventilated, well insulated housing to retire to!
    Roosters make it much easier for the hens to free range, but aren't necessary.
    So, if you are willing, go for it! IMG_20170721_1714561_rewind.jpg

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  1. RoostersAreAwesome
    Why shouldn't you free range if you have next door neighbors?
    1. View previous replies...
    2. RoostersAreAwesome
      If there's a fence between you and the neighbor, why should it matter?
    3. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
      I added that this is only discussing fence free free ranging.
    4. RoostersAreAwesome
      Oh, I get it now. :p
  2. jreardon1918
    We are on 1/2 acre. Neighbors left and right. Our chickens tend to stay away. We also give neighbors eggs. They have small dogs that are loud. We let them out late in the day. The back is a wetland/ woods. Many predators. We think the risk is worth it. The chickens love the freedom.
      AMERAUCANAS4REAL likes this.
    1. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
      If the neighbors give an ok, it should be fine, especially if you have a fence. My article is mostly for those without fences at all, but I thought it might be useful to you. I would be concerned about predators. Cats have never been a problem, but dogs can be. (We don't have them, so I have no firsthand experience.) Make sure where you keep them is a sturdy structure. Secure the hardware cloth by nailing it tight. We lost a pullet when a racoon ripped it off the wood where it was loose. As long as there are no daytime predators, such as hawks, they should be fine, at least if you leave cover in case of an occasional one. Do you have roosters? (I know I should have read your post.)
  3. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
    You also need to ask yourself if your landscaping/garden can take it!:lau
    1. nminusyplusm
      Yep, free ranging is not ever happening at my place!
      AMERAUCANAS4REAL likes this.
    2. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
      Notice how I gave the free ranging idea rules so strict that nearly nobody can do it. But it is that important for their safety.
      nminusyplusm likes this.
    3. AMERAUCANAS4REAL
      Oh, look at the green summer day, with knee high corn. I miss that.
      nminusyplusm likes this.

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