free range flock

Discussion in 'Pictures & Stories of My Chickens' started by grassfedchicken, Dec 28, 2013.

  1. grassfedchicken

    grassfedchicken Out Of The Brooder

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    The background story of our flock of ultra free range birds started with a peeping box of heritage pure breeds delivered to us 2 years ago in Summer 2011. At first, I micromanaged their lives and gave them fancy heated and ac yet plantless accommodations in a dog kennel using deep straw bedding and a small run. I learned that d'uccles and Silkies do quite well caged. But our other breeds were very restless!
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    After raising the first batch of our birds, the next Spring I rethought things and changed it over to try full free range. When I let them all out at first I was scared they'd wander away.They didn't! But the flock was still seperated with roosters leading them to roost in seperate locations. Freeranging, I noticed the colors of their feathers and condition of their eyes and skin brightness increased dramatically. Weaning out the large and dominant roos who encouraged the flock to seperate helped them to become 1 flock with many roosters who were the friendly type who roosted together and worked together.
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    Eventually, we had a mixed gender flock free-ranging happily on our 20 acre property all day to return to their safely enclosed coop which is shut promptly at sunset. This is a group of free birds! Their numbers have doubled now with natural hatches all summer. I feel very proud seeing them taking advantage of the bugs and plants. The ticks and spiders near our home are gone too thanks to our chickens! There have been some hawk incidents, but the chickens have a barn to run into to take cover from hawks and roosters keeping watch, so disappearances only rarely happen. The eggs' eating quality has gone to GOURMET flavored, and the flavor comes from their varied diet from having a large variety of bugs and plants to eat.

    The fully free range system is the best way to raise chickens, even better than tractors in my opinion, because they have a large area to find what their body needs. We grow organic sesame and watermelons that they eat alot of each summer. It's important to have breeds of chickens that enjoy foraging. It saves a ton of money in feed too. Utilizing multiple roosters in the flock is important for them to be able to safely range around.
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    The flock has mostly hybrid offspring, on the mating preferences of the roosters, not based on humans putting them together. That has been my favorite part of raising chickens - awaiting how the one of a kind hybrids will look grown up. The next thing I will try to do is stabilize a few of these hybrids into its own breed.

    Hope to chat chickens with ya.
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
    1 person likes this.
  2. TwoCrows

    TwoCrows Show me the way old friend Staff Member

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    Very nice! I wish I could free range my girls here. Too many predators lurking under every bush and in the skies.

    Enjoy your flock!
     
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    Welcome to BYC. If I tried that here, the predators would deplete my flock.
     
  4. Mr MKK FARMS

    Mr MKK FARMS Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

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    Very nice flock you've got!
     
  5. maxpedley

    maxpedley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a similair sort of thing with 27 chickens and 8 ducks and a dog(you can see what breeds in my signature) Of the chickens there are 5 roos which all get along and 2 drakes with 6 females. They all get along well and the dog protects them from predators (she once attacked a rogue terrier who was chasing the ducks.) I have had many hybrid created through this way of keeping birds and most of which have been hatched naturally.
     
  6. grassfedchicken

    grassfedchicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Exactly! I use a guard cat named Cuckoo. Now that I think about it, he probably does a great job at keeping hawks away... He is a large boy silver tabby. Cuckoo even plays gently with the tiny chicks. I don't really trust dogs tho...

    Roosters get a bad rap
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014
  7. maxpedley

    maxpedley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The cats have fallen out with the chickens because every time maisie brings a mouse in one of the red sex links attacks her , steals the mouse and eats it. Also one of the young cockerels thinks its funny to attack them when they are just minding their own business. Betty the labrador x staffie gets along with the chooks well. She chases away predators and in return the chickens seem to give her access to the feeder
     
  8. grassfedchicken

    grassfedchicken Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah most cats wont be like mine, i had to train him, he used to chase the baby chicks around but i somehow trained him to play with them gently by just putting baby chicks on him and not letting him fight them. twas cute
     
  9. maxpedley

    maxpedley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My cats dont attack chicks. They are scared of the chickens due to the constant abuse they recieve from them.
     
  10. grassfedchicken

    grassfedchicken Out Of The Brooder

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    rofl! it's amazing that you have dogs, cats and a flock of chickens and ducks all in harmony. There doesn't seem to be any barriers for free ranging as long as you keep the nice animals around :) I get rid of the roos that fight or mate too much.

    We are looking to get Berkshire pigs to free range as well. I wonder if pigs might attack the chickens..
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2014

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