Keeping Chickens Free Range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LadyBroody, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. SmColorInDaPan

    SmColorInDaPan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 19, 2012
    Okay, this is about the best I have of the whole bunch. Only named one is Freckles, SL, obviously (?) to the far right. 2 PRs, 1 Bantam Roo, 1 Leghorn, doing a dusting somewhere near the house…. Not a big bunch, just enough I can sell eggs occasionally, & EAT always. LOL!
  2. islandgirl82

    islandgirl82 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 4, 2014
    Well...comparatively, that's no skimpy operation. I only have 7 chickens now. I started raising (4) chickens and (8) ducks about 4 years ago on 130 acres and they never strayed far; always staying between the house and the barn which were about 50' apart. Do your birds range all 13 acres?
  3. JessicaThistle

    JessicaThistle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 27, 2014
    And I thought I was crazy with the 42 chickens that I have! Lol!
  4. blkjak

    blkjak Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2014
    Manitoba Canada
    I know I am nuts. Just over 100 chickens, 14 ducks, 4 geese on 16 acres. In a few weeks though maybe 75 chickens. Processed 4 tonight.
  5. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota

    I wish!!!

    My birds seem to think they are house pets! Most of their foraging seems to occur within 10 feet of my shoes. They follow me everywhere, waiting for a treat. I have an area of about 1 to 1 1/2 acres of woods wedged between a machine shed and one of the coops. They have that denuded. I have about a 4 acre woods behind the other coop. NO ONE even looks at that woods.

    I have a small pasture that is over run with grasshoppers, foxtails and weeds. It is about 6 acres. I try to get the chickens into it. They refuse. If I walk into it, they will follow me and chase grasshoppers like crazy. If I leave the area, they leave. They follow me like puppies!

    They sit under the steps to the house, under my truck, under my wife's van. When I am working in a shed they are there. If I am in the garden, they are there. Some of them will go to the garden alone, just enough of them to get me in trouble with my wife and her tomatoes.

    I have a bird feeder outside my dining room window. It is a large feeder with 10 stations on it. The chickens wait below it for seeds to drop.

    I think my flock flunked basic foraging 101. They excelled at begging 445.

    On the bright side I do not have a tick, box elder bug or those dang Japanese/Asian beetles (the lady bug ones) around the house this year. They did a good job on them...

    Last night one of my dogs was lying near me during chicken TV time. There was a cricket on the dogs back, A chicken picked it off the dog.

    I hope to get small coops all over the back acreage someday spread the chickens out. Then predators may become an actuality, right now they are just a fear. I think I would try your CD idea if I get them out there.

    Right now, with the buildings dogs and people birds of prey are not a problem. If I have had any loses to them, I am not aware of it. I also do a lot of shooting at targets behind the one shed, I think that scare them away too.

    A total the birds are within a 200 ft of the middle of the home site/buildings. With the main concentration under the steps or in the door to the machine shed.
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    [​IMG]I'm guessing that's where you'll find the greatest concentration of chicken poo bombs as well!
  7. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota

    I will trade chicken poop for bugs anyday.
  8. RoosterLew

    RoosterLew Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2013
    Coffeyville, Ks
    We constantly have hawks over our place but they are marsh hawks. They are pretty much scavengers. I've watched them soar low right over our birds and then simply move on. I don't know if it's our dogs, the gooses or the bigger Roosters or if they just are not interested but even with young chicks running around they've yet to attack. We did have an eagle show up once, that got a bit nerve racking but he too moved on.
    110 birds in Ks hits regulatory area, I purposely stay under 50 ! Lol
  9. UrbanEnthusiast

    UrbanEnthusiast Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 12, 2012
    Port Orford, Oregon
    I have a question. I'm about to move onto five acres of mostly wooded land in the Pacific Northwest (south end of Camano Island - about half as much rain as Seattle but still pretty green). I want chickens only for eggs and I want to free-range as much as possible for two reasons: taste and feed cost. I'm guessing I'll have to feed them in the winter but in the warmer months it'd be great if they could live entirely or nearly entirely off the land. I plan to cull my hens at 2-3 years of age to increase overall production. I'm thinking of trying out Hamburgs, Leghorns, and Easter Eggers to see who can produce the most with the fewest losses to predators (hawks, coyotes, our own cat). I may have to resort to larger hens, not sure. My question is, how many chickens can my five acres support that way? It's just me and my husband but we eat a lot of eggs, therefore I'd like to keep about 20 layers so there's enough eggs even in winter (I plan to put a light in the coop). There won't be any other livestock grazing. Is this realistic?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014
  10. RoosterLew

    RoosterLew Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 18, 2013
    Coffeyville, Ks
    Well yes and no, lol..
    Yes 5 acres will support 20 chickens.
    Yes 20 layers will more than give enough eggs for 2 people, even in winter.
    No..having bigger breeds will not cut losses from predators like Coyotes. You should not have a problem with your cat or hawks with all but bantam breeds.
    I would not count on them foraging for their entire diet, you will still need to feed them.
    Being in the woods I would also think you'd have more predator problems such as raccoons, skunks, etc.
    wooded areas are predator areas, plain and simple.
    Free ranging is an "accepted loss" way of raising chickens. Unless you stand gaurd, sooner or later you will lose some. We lost 10 in one day to small domestic imagine what a coyote could do, or worse a pack of them?
    If all your after is Egg production, I would not be looking to heritage or designer breeds but rather some of the purpose needs egg producers. I believe the "freedom Rangers" are the ones bred to be good foragers as well as producers. Production bred birds will have a better conversion than heritage or designer bred birds.

    Another note on predators. You might also consider smaller birds of a dark or partridge color that can hide better than large colorful breeds.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2014

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