100% free-ranging

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by jjdent, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. jjdent

    jjdent Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 20, 2013
    Rustburg, VA
    Does anyone on here have any experience with 100% free-ranging and not feeding their chicken any feed? I'm doing it, and I'm wondering if it's good for them. They are foraging excellently, and they also pick out of the compose bin (which they have free access to), and we give them treats of household scraps a few times a day. I have a large, fenced-in backyard. I have 4 hens, a rooster and a guard dog. Any advice? I've looked at the learning center, but everything seems to assume I'm feeding them feed at least part of the time.
     
  2. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    As long as they have adequate area to forage, you might be able to get away with it at certain times of the year. However they can't find food that isn't there, and there are times of the year when there just isn't enough for them to eat. I know VA is milder than some parts of the country but I'm sure even there, plant growth slows down over winter and there are fewer bugs. I would probably supplement them, at least in the winter.

    The other consideration is eggs/meat. A bird who is only getting enough nutrition to maintain its own weight, is not going to have any reserves left over to produce eggs, since egg production is a high calorie operation. Also, if you are wanting to butcher any of your birds, they may be pretty lean, if they aren't finding enough to eat.
     
  3. Maven

    Maven Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 30, 2012
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    I agree with HEchicken.

    In the winter, even in VA, the ground gets cold and lots of the creepy-crawlies that chickens depend on for their protein go deep as well and are not available to the chickens. I'd supplement through the winter, and during molt. Otherwise, if they look happy and healthy and you can SEE lots of bugs and worms for yourself, they are probably fine.
     
  4. jjdent

    jjdent Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 20, 2013
    Rustburg, VA
    Cool, thanks.
     

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