Keeping Chickens Free Range

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


  1. If it was me- I'd ferment my feed to keep costs down while giving them superior nutrition. I would never rely on foraging for all nutritional needs. {I also don't use supplemental light; plus you'll have molting to think about.}

    If you are culling and then processing, I would not have hamburgs. Not only are they flighty {= hunting for eggs all over}, but they are small; not a whole lot bigger. They lay really well, though, and they have a decent size white egg. My .02, fwiw. ;)
     

  2. I have *never* had a single chicken that didn't forage. That's what they are designed to do. It's like dust bathing- instinctive behavior.
     
  3. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    26,097
    16,649
    686
    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota
    I am already looking and trying to decide which breeds I will buy next year, either as eggs or chicks. I looked at the reviews on the welsummer and I have a couple questions about them:

    1) Are they cold hardy?

    2) What size do they mature at?

    3) how long does it take them to reach that size?

    4) If you know, are they larger in the breast or thigh/leg area? ( I do not mean to offend, but I raise for meat and eggs and NOT because I am addicted to chickens like a certain Woman living in my house claims!)
     
  4. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    26,097
    16,649
    686
    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota
    My 4 year old grand daughter is here, she spend the night. I showed her the video of the chickens being let out. She laughed so hard, I told her she could help me let the chickens out in the morning.

    She was so excited. This is the same granddaughter that loved my bird feeders so much her parents had to get one. The one that I gave a hummingbird feeder to on her birthday and she acts like it is her favorite present. When I go to their house, she has to show me her birds and the feeders. She laughs and gets giddy every time one feeds.


    Last night, as we put her to bed she said," Grandpa, I can't wait for morning to let the chickens out".


    I am instilling a love for birds her Mother will hate me for someday. I am doing it right!
     
    1 person likes this.

  5. Chicks would be an issue; big birds not so much. 4 of our cats are outside and don't look twice at the chickens.
     

  6. Guineas are a whole other ball of wax..... mine are coop trained, but they generally will not lay in the boxes. I don't much care about the eggs as they are seasonal layers, but I've got 2 girls on a community nest I cannot find and it's driving me crazy. Out 6 days; haven't seen in 4. And we have spent serious hours looking. Last time this happened, I lost 3.... :hit
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2014
  7. holm25

    holm25 Jr Chicken Wrangler

    11,375
    2,988
    401
    Apr 6, 2014
    MN
    Very cold hardy, roosters are known to get frostbite . Hens 7-8 pounds roos 9-10 . 20-25 weeks and lay a terra cota colored egg so dark brown and darker brown specks . They are a dual purpose breed but are not to big in the thigh/leg area . I will get pics later!!
     

  8. At night, yes. Most everything comes out to hunt at night.
     
  9. brattima

    brattima New Egg

    3
    0
    7
    Jul 13, 2012
    I free ranged my 3 hens and rooster always. they came home to roost at night and to lay their eggs. Once in a while they would try the empty dog house. All was fine for 2 years, locking them up at night. Until a fox decided it would get best results in nabbing chicken in the day, early late, mid day, no matter what time.. This fox wiped out 2 of mine, my neighbors 15 hens. so now mine are locked up, keep a light on the outside incase I see that rascal at night. The yolks are not as orange now. Have 2 young hen replacements, just started laying, not letting them out. would like to though. the young hens lay eggs the size of a teaspoon. will they get larger?
     
  10. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler extrodinaire Premium Member

    26,097
    16,649
    686
    Jul 11, 2014
    Orrock township, Minnesota

    The eggs will get larger, those are pullet eggs.

    I free range, I know I lose birds to predators. I try to limit the losses. As long as the losses are within limits I can handle it. With only 4 birds it would be hard because the loss is so noticeable.

    I recently loss a CX, I am not sure when, the last couple times I counted them I only got 22. I was sure I had 23. It bothers me most when I see something take a baby. I have enough birds I do not miss a few. I also have some that never go into a coop at night. I am guessing about a dozen right now. I would think I have lost a few of those stubborn ones. After culling I will be down to a number I can count easier, which will make the losses obvious faster.

    That is if I can figure out how to capture the outside roosting birds to put them on the bus to camp.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by