Is free ranging nutrishous enough for a growing hen?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Skamaghetten, Aug 6, 2009.

  1. Skamaghetten

    Skamaghetten In the Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2009
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    I have three girls at 12 weeks who love to free range the yard. They have food and water in the coop, but I seldom see them in there. They also don't sleep in the coop so they aren't directly next to their food when they wake up.

    Are they going to mature slower and take longer to produce eggs since they don't eat as much layer feed as they do natural food?
     
  2. I guess the answer is ' It depends'.

    If you had soil over limestone and if the variety of leafy greens had enough calcium, if the plants and bugs have enough protein, , if there is enough silica in the soil to provide grit...most of use switch to layer food when we see our first eggs and bring our hens in at night for protection. You may wish to rethink leaving them out overnight for several reasons- not only for availability of suitable food, but so that you can get them when you want and handle any bird who might get sick or injured...funny how urban and suburban predators find chickens- raccoons especially.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Skamaghetten

    Skamaghetten In the Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2009
    Suburb Maryland
    The yard is pretty divers in the way of greens. From what I have seen, they eat lots of grass, clover, English Ive (over taking the yard) and insects. Most of the time I see them in the garden, I can only assume they are getting of rocks and nutrients out of the dirt.

    I the four years that I have lived in my house I have only ever seen one Opossum, which may have been sick. Even though my coop has good ventalation I'd feel bad for them to be stuck in there all day. I don't think I'd be a very happy chicken at that point. I think I may just have to bite the bullet for a week and see if they take to it.

    Thanks
     
  4. Mahlzeit

    Mahlzeit Songster

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    At 12weeks old they should still be on grower feed. There is too much calcium in layer pellets for them at this point. I wouldn't leave them in the coop all day but I would lock them up at night and let them out in the morning. As long as they know where their food is they will go back to it and eat it when they need it.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    I wouldn't worry about it. They have access to their feed and they forage for added nutrition in your yard....they are actually getting better nutritional choices than those penned in a run at all times.

    Mine have the same lifestyle, except they choose to roost in the coop at night. They grew at a normal rate and matured in the usual time frame for laying. No smaller, no larger....exactly right for their ages.

    And mine were all on laying mash since they arrived here in their little box..... [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2009
  6. edb

    edb Songster

    "Is free ranging nutrishous enough for a growing hen?"

    There was a old barn and house near my house, nobody lived in it for 6 years after the owner died. When the land was being cleared several of us went and caught over 30 chickens that had live there. Some were born and grew up hardly ever seeing a human, although they were almost impossible to catch they were all healthy.

    So, yup!
     
  7. lorrir

    lorrir Songster

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    I have 6 hens and a roo that return to the coop at night. I have 7 hens who came later thate do not mix with the older girls. They are strictly free range. All are doing well. The 7 younger girls are laying HUGE eggs, I have found a couple ( the 7 are white leghorns and the rest are RIR and EE) but can't find the "mother" nest. That is the downside freeangeing. All of those wonderful eggs somewhere out there just waiting to be found.

    During the summer the freerangers won't starve, I'm going to start keeping my free girls in coop every other day when winter sets in.
     
  8. Akane

    Akane Crowing

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    If they choose not to eat layer feed I wouldn't worry but I'd make sure it was still out there.

    You may not have seen a predator but that doesn't mean they aren't around. Also nearly all my deaths have been people's pets not wild life. Despite the fact I'm in the middle of nowhere I've lost over a dozen chickens to dogs and cats and only 1 to a raccoon when I forgot to close the coop. [​IMG] More populated areas means even more dogs to cause trouble and I can bet you there are a few coons hiding about that will soon figure out you have a nice meal. Also owls will pick them off easy at night. I know several people who had guineas free ranging successfully for months and given up on convincing them to go in a coop only to have owls start picking them off. The numbers go down darn quick once the predators do find them. 1 raccoon, coyote, fox, or dog in 1 night (more like 1 hour) could nearly eliminate your flock. Also I knew there were dozens of raccoons here when I moved in yet sometimes I'd go a week without seeing them. Soon as I thought it was safe to leave something in the yard over night I'd find it destroyed or dragged off come morning. I really started to see them a few weeks after feeding the cats on the screened in porch. They quickly realized the cats now had a way in and there was food so they started appearing. Unless you sit around quietly at 3am you may not know what exactly is living in your yard.
     
  9. Skamaghetten

    Skamaghetten In the Brooder

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    Thanks for all the excellent input.[​IMG] I know what I have to do now. As soon as the weather breaks I'll start locking them up, until then I'll just have to round them up and put them away at night. The past two days it has been above 90, too hot for them to be cooped up all day.
     
  10. Skamaghetten

    Skamaghetten In the Brooder

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    Jun 26, 2009
    Suburb Maryland
    Thanks for all the info, however tragedy struck today. I was practicing my do diligence and started putting them away at night and keeping them out during the day. I came home from work and found Big Red headless and leg torn up. I let my dogs only a few minutes out before I found her. I'm thinking they scared the predator off, the meat was still very fresh with few flies. It urks me so much, I have a 6ft fence in a suburban area. [​IMG]
     

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