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Birds don't like to free range!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by kalaim, Nov 20, 2008.

  1. kalaim

    kalaim Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    Did anyone watch the Food Network Thanksgiving special with Alton Brown cooking the turkey?

    I know this board is for chickens, but his concept probably applies to chickens too!

    He was talking about how to buy a turkey and what to look for on the labels.
    When he got to Free Range, he said it basically means that the bird's door gets open for an hour a day and can go walk around and range.....but he said birds don't want to get out and walk around because they know their are hawks and wolves out there!!!

    Everyone in the audience thought that was so funny. They showed this turkey in a set up, sitting in his coop with a door open but not coming out.

    Not sure of his point, you would think saying free range is a good thing!

    I didn't know poultry was that intelligent to know the predators were out there!!

    Maybe he's trying to say a bird that walks around will have tougher meat, perhaps?

    I don't know, I like Alton Brown, but that comment was just stupid!

    **Shoot, I meant to post this in the feeding/water forum, if it could be moved please!**
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2008

  2. newroomom

    newroomom Hatching

    Oct 12, 2008
    Framingham, MA
    Hi Kaliam,

    I'm what my BYC name implies, a new mom of 3 roosters, little Bantams. I saw your topic and had to check it out, because we let our "boys" free range all day long. All I can say is - they LOVE it! When the garage door goes up, they literally charge outside, unless it's raining. I don't know, perhaps turkeys are more frightened. After all, for them, it's not hawks and coyotes, but people that might be the most frequent predator. My roosters come in at dusk (usually on their own) and are locked in the garage in their cage at night, both for their safety and to keep them from disturbing neighbors with the morning crowing. They like this arrangement. I've noticed that they seem to sense when something "disturbing" is around. They go into "alert mode" you might say, stretch up their necks, stand still and listen. This doesn't happen often; usually they're scratching and eating bugs and worms. I'll have to ask our yard guys about the turkeys - he has several, some for food, some pets. Thanks for your post................Claudia
  3. Buckaroo

    Buckaroo Songster

    Sep 14, 2008
    Milton Florida
    Mine love to free range, had a leghorn escape today, she loves it outside the pen. They are always gathered by the door when I go out, hoping I will let them out. If I can't baby sit, then they stay in. Also when I open the flap to the pen in the morning, the coop clears out in a hurry. Only time I have seen them stay in, is when its extremly cold.
  4. Omran

    Omran Songster

    Jul 26, 2008
    Bagdad KY
    I think Mr. Brown never has raised chicken, because I never ever heard that any animal like to be in (jail) his house than going out and play, even my cats in freezing tempretures they make a big deal if we kept them inside. my chickens go so loud when they see me outside thier pen, and I swear I can't take thier nois and I open the door for them.
  5. gottaknit

    gottaknit In the Brooder

    May 28, 2008
    The "free range" label applies to chickens, too. It just means they have "access" once a day to going outside.

    I imagine that if a chicken or turkey is inside all the time, they will tend to just stay where they are comfortable. They aren't like a dog, which will make a break for it at the first available opportunity. I think these pseudo free-range birds just don't know to look outside and see what's there, and usually "what's there" is just a small bare yard, anyway.

    I've seen REAL free-range chickens and turkeys raised here where I live. They are happy and healthy, outside all of the time except when they go in to sleep at night. They don't seem overly concerned with predators (although the chickens will run for cover if a hawk flies over). I mean, let's face it, they aren't that smart.
  6. Heather J

    Heather J Songster

    May 29, 2008
    My adult birds would free range from sunup to sundown if given the chance (and the extra cockerels pretty much are since I pulled them out of the coop with the girls), but my silkies and cochins hardly ever use their run--I can't figure it out, but for some reason they just don't like to go outside. Once I get their individual pens ready to finish up I'll kick them out for the whole day and get the inside building done. Hopefully that will encourage them to take advantage. Their run isn't super secure--yet, it's a work in progress--so I don't like to let them out when I'm not around to keep an eye out, and because of their feathered feet, I don't let them out when it's muddy, but still, they have the pop door open for ten-twenty hours a week and I hardly ever see them out.

    I just can't figure them.
  7. Rte.66_chicks

    Rte.66_chicks Songster

    Feb 22, 2008
    Kingman, AZ
    Mine ask to be let out every time I open the run gate. And when I DO let them out in the afternoon, I have to get out of the way or I'll have chicken tracks running the length of me. This is from 21 chickens in a 2000 sq ft run!

    I'm thinking the "free range" definition is for the convenience and profit of producers. They can charge more if they have a small access to a bare dirt or even concrete pad that is outside.

  8. bantamfan

    bantamfan In the Brooder

    Nov 20, 2008
    That TV program was totally bogus. My bantams love the free range idea, and at times will roost outside in trees and if I let them do that, they will never willingly enter a coop again. Someone doesn't know chickens at all.
  9. Weasleymum

    Weasleymum Songster

    Aug 1, 2008
    The problem is that commercial "free-range" operations are allowed to keep the birds indoors until they're a certain age. By the time they open the doors to allow the "outdoor access" that lets them label their birds "free-range", the birds are already conditioned to remain indoors. It's really not the same set of conditions as a true free-ranging flock!
  10. waynesgarden

    waynesgarden Feathers of Steel

    Mar 30, 2008
    Oxford County
    I've never seen the show and don't know the host, but he probably was playing for the laughs because he certainly doesn't know the first thing about poultry.

    The birds, turkeys or chickens, have a natural wariness of things unknown when out in the open. They will panic when confronted with a wolf and freak out at the sight of a hawk swooping down. (I had birds that thought the world was ending when my daughters were flying kites out in the field.) But they do not posess the intelligence to weigh the option of going outside against the dangers of wolves and hawks, creatures that, as this TV person believes, poultry are somehow blessed with an inate knowledge as to their perils.

    As Weasleymum said, the birds are conditioned to stay inside. It is what they know and where they are comfortable. It is the only place they know that there will be food and water. Opening a single door in a huge poultry house for perhaps an hour does nothing to encourage the birds to go out, and frankly, the poultry house owners are more than likely happy as clams that the birds stay inside. That they are permitted to call these birds "free-ranged" is fraud, pure and simple.

    The USDA should change their ridiculous rules that encourage this fraud.

    Last edited: Nov 23, 2008

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