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Free Ranging Chickens and Feeding

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Masonfamily, Aug 7, 2013.

  1. Masonfamily

    Masonfamily In the Brooder

    Aug 6, 2013

    I am purchasing 4 chickens, coop will be 4x8 and run 15x35. I live just on the edge of town on 1.75 acres with 1 acre being a 30+ tree orchard. No really 'country' property and not the Burbs if you know what I mean. I have another 10+ fruit trees around the property. I have several large 16x20 composting bins just on the edge of the orchard, opposite side of the Orchard of the Chicken coop. The coop/yard itself will be located such that a black walnut and large Oak tree provide shade/cover during the summer. I am in CA, San Jose area, so the weather is very nice during the winter, rain and occasional frost on the ground but not frozen ground. The entire property is fenced, 4' high chain link fence. Coyotes and foxes are not an issue where I live, that I know of. Don't see birds of prey too often around the area, but being that the coop/run will be on the edge of the Orchard I have a few questions:

    1. How worried do I need to be about birds of prey if the chickens are keeping to the Orchard? Not a lot of room for a large bird to fly in/out given the tree population/spacing.

    2. I was going to 'clip' the wings of the chickens, that should keep them from flying out of the run and/or property fencing, right?

    3. Given the size of the Orchard and property in general, what can I expect in terms of feeding them outside of the free range food they find?

    4. Scraps, we compose our left over perishable food, should I just throw it to them? Things like fruit peels, apple cores, bread, potato peels, etc. Do I do this in the run area?

    Any other advice in the area of feeding and/or free ranging?

  2. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    1.) I wouldn't be to worried - the trees should offer good cover.

    2.) With that much space, the chickens should be content. But more then likely some will get over - you can decrease this chance even more by getting heavier breeds - orpintons, barred rocks, australrops etc.

    3.) I have 6 acres with a good sized grove of trees. My chickens spend most of the time in the grove. I know I have more land - but I also have more chickens. In the spring/summer/fall my 12 chickens eat #40 of feed in 3 months usually, but in the winter, that usually barely lasts a month.

    4.) Chickens can eat almost anything - here is a list of do's and don'ts. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/chicken-treat-chart-the-best-treats-for-backyard-chickens The thing off the top of my head I can think of chickens CAN'T have - Potato peels*, citrus, and sugary things. I'm sure their is more.

    *There is much controversy over potatoes/peels. The green skin contains something that can be poisonous to chickens. So many chickens eat it without a problem - but some do die.
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon
    I'd be far more worried about raccoons than birds as far as predators go.

    I'd still offer them free choice of a grower or layer feed, whatever you decide to go with. That way they can self regulate and eat a little more feed on days when forage is down. I'm not sure how much you'll need, but I can't imaging each bird would eat more than 1/4cup of feed per day.

    I throw my birds all my kitchen scraps. Wherever you want to feed them is fine. Mine eat what they want, and scratch the rest into the floor of the run. I've fed tater peels but they usually don't like them. I feed everything we don't eat and let the birds choose what they want. Mine overall don't care for onion peel, banana peels, citrus rinds, things like that. Chickens are omnivores and are designed to eat a wide variety of foods. My dad always said they'll eat anything that doesn't eat them first lol.
  4. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    True. Very true. Also true is coons - the chicken keepers worst nightmare. But they are usually only a problem at night.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2013

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