Can free ranging be detrimental at a young age?

Discussion in 'Nutrition - Sponsored by Purina Poultry' started by charalzo, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. charalzo

    charalzo New Egg

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    Feb 16, 2015
    hi,

    First time chicken owner here and loving it. I really enjoy letting my chickens free range through my backyard and garden (before I have plants I care about sprouting). They love walking around and eating grass and who knows what else. My concern is that while they are out eating all the stuff off of the ground that they are eating less of the starter feed and therefor missing out on some of the nutrition and benefits of the specially formulated food. I know the chickens are able to determine what they need to eat. But is letting them free range at this young age detrimental at all?
     
  2. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG] Glad you joined the fun. My chickens free range daily in better weather. How old are the chickens? I would check them to make sure they are not wasting away, but it shouldn't be a problem. But generally speaking the benefits to free ranging chickens saves you money on food, and is much healthier for the chickens.

    Also dangers you need to worry about are predators. We have lost many chickens to hawks. We have lost some also to dog attacks, owls, and raccoons. In my neck of the woods, hawks are definitely the biggest predator.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  3. charalzo

    charalzo New Egg

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    Hey. Thought I responded but apparently it didn't post. Thanks for the advice! I'll definitely look out for Hawks. Haven't seen any circling yet but I've definitely seen some in the past. My chicks are 10 weeks old. Here's a picture (if it works this time) [​IMG]
     
  4. Outpost JWB

    Outpost JWB Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Very cute!
     
  5. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi charalzo,

    Great question! From the looks of the picture you sent over, letting them run free-range shouldn’t be a problem. It is great that you are considering all of the other feeds that your birds could be consuming outdoors – many flock owners forget about this when trying to feed a balanced diet to free-range birds.

    To ensure that your chicks are receiving enough nutrition to keep the growing going, I’d recommend following the 90/10 rule. This rule means that your birds should be receiving at least 90% of their nutrition from a complete starter feed, Like Purina[​IMG] Start & Grow[​IMG] Poultry Feed and 10% from treats and scraps.

    I’d also recommend watching out where your birds are roaming. If there is a garden or compost nearby, those can be a treasure chest for scraps that your birds could be consuming. Too many scraps can dilute the diet and subsequently hamper bird growth. Chickens are opportunistic omnivores and will eat a very large array of items.

    If you are looking to learn more about what to expect from your growing birds in the coming months, I’d recommend reading this article.

    Good luck with your free-range ladies!
     
  6. charalzo

    charalzo New Egg

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    Wow thanks for the informative post dr. Mikelle. I'm keeping them in their coop and run for most of the time now then to make sure that they grow appropriately with the right portions of food.
     
  7. Fentress

    Fentress Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Let your chickens out! It's good for them. A little common sense is in order here. I would hope the doctor agrees. Free range provides exercise and diversity to their diet that can't be found in just feed. they will still eat plenty of feed.
     
  8. mrballance

    mrballance Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I whole heartedly agree. Free range isn't treats or Scraps. If they were with the hen she would show them what to eat. Let them be chickens and they will find what they need to eat.
     
  9. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

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    X2. I used to keep my chickens cooped up all the time, and they never grew out as well as they do now on a ''raw'' diet.
     
  10. DrMikelleRoeder

    DrMikelleRoeder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    One other thing to consider when allowing young birds to free-range is the potential for picking up parasites. They ae still building their immune system, and we want to be careful not to challenge them to the point of disease. Coccidia are very prolific in any damp areas, and earthworms can carry a nasty tracheal parasite known as a gapeworm. Free-ranging is wonderful, no doubt, andit is fun to watch the birds, but just be aware that, as with anything, there are potential downsides.
     

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