Free range chickens

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by nlsf, Feb 21, 2017.

  1. nlsf

    nlsf Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 19, 2017
    Well I've only owned my four chickens for a year. However we moved to a 4.5 acre home some im preparing to expand my flock. I'm not exactly sure what free range means and how well it works without having your chickens leave your property. What's everyone's opinions and thoughts on free range?
     
  2. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

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    Free range for most of us means the chickens can roam freely outdoors. There could be various sized enclosures from a small back yard to a fenced pasture. The chickens don't tend to go too far. They won't run away if they know where their home is. I'd say mine ranged over about an acre at most, (usually much less.) Free ranging could be a problem if you are on a busy road or close to places you don't want them to go. Mine spent a lot of time on my back porch! Sadly, a predator ended their free ranging days. I loved having them out and about with so much to forage. They ate almost no feed as they found enough plants and insects to fill up on.
    There are forums on free ranging, you might want to check them out. Good luck!
     
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  3. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    Sue explains it well.
    Lots of people have different views of free range.
    True free range means they have unlimited access to forage in pasture and/or forest.
    I do some true free range and also use paddocks that are planted and rotated.

    Once chickens are imprinted on their terrain, they won't run away like a dog or cattle will.
    Initially, they need to be confined in a pen or other enclosure so they can orient themselves to their surroundings for a few days. After that, you can turn them loose and they won't venture beyond what they know. Eventually they will go beyond eyesight of their coop but they always come back home by dusk.

    Having good agile roosters will eliminate many predator issues, especially the raptor variety.
     
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  4. nlsf

    nlsf Out Of The Brooder

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    Thank you! I've been thinking of letting them out with the horses since I think they would be all get along. I was just worried about them wondering off the property. I also have quite a few " feral" cats that some of our neighbors feed. I was wondering if I should worry about the cats?
     
  5. nlsf

    nlsf Out Of The Brooder

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    I wasn't sure if it was good to have the rooster around the chickens, since we eat the eggs and sell them to the neighbors. Do you have a rooster and if so what is it's living arrangement?
     
  6. rebrascora

    rebrascora Overrun With Chickens

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    There is no noticeable difference between fertilised and non fertilised eggs. Really, I can assure you, you will not be able to tell the difference. Fertilised eggs can sit on the counter for a month and still be edible just like unfertilised. In order for a chick to start to develop, it takes some form of incubation....either a broody hen or an incubator and at least a couple of days before there is any appreciable change in the egg's appearance when it is incubated. If you collect eggs every day, there is absolutely no problem with having a rooster in the flock. Even if you don't collect every day, they are still fine provided you don't have a broody hen setting them and believe me, you will know about it if you have a broody.
     
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  7. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

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    I keep at least one rooster with each flock. They go in the coop and roost right along with the hens.
    Sometimes I have a bachelor pad but have had as many as 20 roosters at a time but I try to keep it to around 1 per flock. It takes time to determine which one's get culled and which will sire the next generation.
     
  8. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

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    Feral cats here never bothered our chickens, which are standard size. You might keep an eye on them to make sure. Your chickens and horses will probably get along. We had donkeys and guineas together a few years ago, and the guineas would eat flies off the donkey's legs. The donkeys would even lay down and invite their feathered friends onto their backs to hunt for bugs.
     
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  9. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    A rooster needs to be about a year old, before they are very good at flock protection, and there are limit to what they can protect against.

    I advocate having a run/coop setup, so that if predators start to pick your birds off, you can lock them up safely until the predators move on.

    Mrs. K
     
  10. Merax

    Merax Out Of The Brooder

    I have a fenced acre - for my chickens free range means they are let out into the yard in the morning (between 7:30am and 9am) and go back in the evening (4pm to 5pm). Is your property fenced? It shouldn't matter too much if their coop is a fair distance from the property border. Mine range over about 1/2 to 2/3 of the acre I have - there are some places they just don't seem too interested in going, but they have their regular haunts and times they visit them (ie the heat of the day they will be under the deck, they visit my lower garden in the late afternoon etc). Feral cats....this kind of depends on the cats and how hungry they are I think. If you have a rooster with your flock it provides some protection as he will face up to any threats and if it comes to it will sacrifice himself for the flock.
     
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