Feeding on Pasture/Grass Only

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by bestpractice, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. bestpractice

    bestpractice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Is anyone raising true "free range" chickens (not tractors)? If so, how many birds and how much pasture are you using? I'm thinking I will need to fence them because I'm afraid they will wonder off into the corn fields and I will never see them again. How far do they wonder if you don't fence them? I'd like to get feed costs down close to zero during as many months as possible. The dogs keep predators away, so I'm good with that, and the chicken house keeps predators out at night.

    How do you sustain/maintain your pasture/grass? Thanks in advance for any info [​IMG]
     
  2. bestpractice

    bestpractice Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. KrisH

    KrisH Chillin' With My Peeps

    I think the ALBC also has an online book on pasture raising turkeys. lots of similarities and online version is free.

    ALBC is American Livestock Breed Conservancy

    RobertH
     
  4. bestpractice

    bestpractice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! All information is appreciated. I was surprised to learn that chickens will only stray a few hundred feet from the hen house. That makes pasture management a lot more difficult! I'm not thrilled with the idea of moving the entire hen house in an effort to manage my pasture... The quest for more information continues [​IMG]
     
  5. OkChickens

    OkChickens Orpingtons Are Us

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    I have a flock of 50 or so free range RSL and I have 2 acres that they use. When I started free ranging them it cut feed costs down quite a bit but I still have a 30lb feeder that I fill up every few days that is in there coop. My birds don't go very far from the coop maybe 30 yards usually maybe 40-45 at the max away from the coop.

    Nate
     
  6. bestpractice

    bestpractice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you Nate! It's so nice to talk to people who are doing it. Reading about the subject is helpful, but actually talking to someone who is doing it is much better.
     
  7. felidaet

    felidaet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I wish I could free range all of the time but we have too many predators: Bald Eagles, Hawks, Racoons, and Coyotes. I do let them free range when I am working in the garden, which is often in the spring, summer, and fall. I have 1 1/4 acres that they can wander around on ad they use most of it except one area where there are a bunch of fir trees. This last weekend they were free ranging nearly the entire day on Sunday while I was finishing up an expansion to their run. I did not notice anything unusual during the day but after I locked them up in the run I checked around the yard to make sure I had not missed any when I discovered that one had been killed in the yard. I have no idea what attacked it. None of the others made any squaking or anything. I suspect it may have been a dog but don't know for sure. Most of the neighbors have dogs (I don't). They usually are good about keeping them in their fenced yards but maybe one slipped out for a few minutes. This was my first loss in 3 years to a predator. I will not let this one loss affect my free ranging them. I know i is a risk I take when I let them out.
     
  8. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

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    If you don't have too many birds and you do have a large lush pasture you can reduce feed costs a pretty good bit. During the times of year when plant growth is young, tender, and there are plenty of insects for the birds to find.

    All other times of the year you are going to have to feed them. Chickens are not ruminants. They cannot subsist solely off of grass. Some grass to be sure but there are limits.

    The more birds you add or the more you restrict their range (keeping them out of the corn fields) the more you have to feed them if you want them to grow and produce eggs.
     
  9. bestpractice

    bestpractice Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I appreciate the information.
     
  10. Juise

    Juise Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We free range ours, but they don't go terribly far away from the house / coop. Ours definitely go more than a few hundred feet from the coop, but probably not much more than that from the house. They won't leave the coop when there is more than a smattering of snow on the ground, and they eat soooo much more feed when they do that! They also drink a lot more water, I don't know if it is just from boredom, lol, or if they are just getting a lot more water from other sources when they are out and about, but I need to fill up their water a lot more often when they are stuck inside during the Winter than when they are running about in the heat of the Summer. [​IMG]

    I have a friend who did move hers around pastures, but she had to do just that, move them. She had a mobile coop, it was very cool, and she did also provide feed in the coop. I think her FB albums are public, if so, you can take a look at it here. http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1697618075044.2092348.1075624897&type=3
     

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