Raising Two or More Breeds and Allowing them to Free-Range Near Each Other

Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
2,380
425
251
Texas
I was wondering about if this is practical or possible.

If I wanted to raise two or more breeds of chickens and have each breed in a separate pasture to free-range, would there be a practical way to keep each breed separate? The cost of building tight, high fences might make this impractical.

I just wouldn't want to keep the chickens locked up in cages. I think they should able to move around.

Is there a way to make this work, or would a person just need to stick with one breed of chicken?
 

Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
2,380
425
251
Texas
Never work unless your groups are far enough apart to not hear any others crowing.
Do you use runs for your different varieties of Leghorns?

I guess the only way my idea could work would be to run 8-foot-high chicken wire all the way around the pasture. That would cost a little bit.
 

NatJ

Songster
Mar 20, 2017
316
705
146
USA
If I wanted to raise two or more breeds of chickens and have each breed in a separate pasture to free-range, would there be a practical way to keep each breed separate? The cost of building tight, high fences might make this impractical.

I just wouldn't want to keep the chickens locked up in cages. I think they should able to move around.
Never work unless your groups are far enough apart to not hear any others crowing.
For totally unfenced free range, with eggs always guaranteed purebred, I agree with The Moonshiner.

But you don't have to choose between "free range" and "locked up in cages." There are lots of in-between options. Here's some off the top of my head:

--You could build separate coop/run setups for each flock.

--Do you have a predator-proof fence around the perimeter? You could divide between the chickens with something much cheaper, perhaps chicken wire or aviary netting on light poles (chickens with lots of space don't usually try too hard to get through fences.)

--Are you planning to leave them completely unfenced during the day, and risk predator losses? You might be able to put up a cheap/light fence that does contain the chickens, although it will not keep them safe from predators. (It might keep them out of the road and the neighbor's yards, as well as keeping them separated into two groups.)

--Why do you want both breeds? If you just want to enjoy them and eat the eggs, you can let them mix all year long and not worry about it. The only reason they should need to be separate is to produce purebred offspring, and very few people are hatching eggs all year long.

--You could let them range together as one flock for most of the year, and pen them into separate coop/run arrangements for two months or so in breeding season (3 weeks before collecting eggs, plus however long you collect eggs)

--If the hens lay different color eggs, you could let all the hens run together all the time, and keep one kind of rooster in a coop/run. Collect only the eggs from the breed whose rooster is loose. (When you switch roosters, allow three weeks before collecting eggs, or be prepared to deal with some crossbred chicks.)

--For some breeds, you could let them run together and just deal with having some mixed chicks. A black breed with clean legs and a brown breed with feathered legs would make crosses really easy to spot from hatch: they'd be the only ones that are both black and fuzzy-footed. Then you'd cull or re-home the crossed chicks.

--Just keeping a single breed is obviously one choice, as you mentioned. (But if they're completely unfenced, and any of your neighbors have chickens, there may still be crosses.)

Hopefully one or another of those will help you figure out something that works for you! Or maybe someone else will jump in with yet another idea.
 

woodmort

Crowing
9 Years
If you want to keep breeds pure and free-range it is going to require truly separate facilities Otherwise, the alternative is to keep just one breed or, one rooster with breeds that lay different colored eggs. At one point I was trying to improve the color of my ameraucana eggs by just keep ameraucana roosters in a mixed flock and hatching the best colored blue eggs.
 

The Moonshiner

Professional Chicken Tender
Nov 17, 2016
4,874
11,067
481
Missouri
Do you use runs for your different varieties of Leghorns?
Yes I use breeder pens. I do hate it put thats the only option. Birds are so much happier with room to roam.
I do have more birds then pens so when I'm not breeding or whoever I'm not breeding gets to run together.
I also only breed certain projects at certain times so I don't breed every project at the same time.
 

Klutch

Songster
5 Years
Jan 30, 2014
156
76
121
West Sacramento
If your trying to save cost, try to use your existing perimeter fencing. I string out that fence wire from tsc, 4ft x 50ft with the 4 inch squares. A rooster is more content on staying on his established side (territory). My unclipped Shamos never had a problem. When in doubt., clip.
Day 25: How to Clip Your Chicken’s Wings


First, Should You Clip or Not?
It can be a dilemma for many backyard chicken owners – To clip or not to clip their chicken’s wings. The answer is that you don’t need to do it unless your chickens are getting into trouble by flying over fences or restricted areas. In that case, clipping the wings can keep them safe and your garden intact.

The idea behind clipping is that it prevents your chickens from being able to get lift when trying to fly. Granted, a chicken doesn’t fly much anyway because their body mass prevents them (in most cases) from getting more than a few feet off the ground. But lighter breeds can fly over six feet high. And even within the heavier breeds, you can always have a few birds with enough determination and wing strength to get high off the ground.




The problem with backyard fliers is that they can get into BIG trouble. They fly over walls and fences into the neighbors yards (which is especially bad if there is a big dog on the other side of that fence). Or they can fly into areas that you want to keep off limits. Clipping can help with this. It keeps the chicken safe within their confines and that is better for you, the chickens and your garden.

Important Considerations:
Before you grab your scissors, you need to consider if the chickens you want to clip might ever have to deal with predators.

A predator can be a dog, cat, raccoon, fox, etc. If they do, you do NOT want to clip. Without a rooster to give them some protection, a hen’s only defense is to fly or flutter to get away from a predator. NEVER clip the wings of birds that are out in the open – a field, pasture or an unfenced yard where a neighborhood dog can walk right up to them. One predator can take down your whole flock and the birds will not be able to fly away.

However, if your chickens are truly confined to your backyard or an enclosed area, they should not have to ever fly in the first place. Clipping can be the perfect option for you. But remember, clipping is not a guarantee. Even with clipping, some birds will manage to get over fences.

Does Clipping Hurt?
No. When done properly, clipping the flight feathers is the same to the bird as us clipping our fingernails.

How often Should You Clip?
You should only have to do it once per year or after each molt. Sometimes, the clipped feathers do not fall out well during the molt, so watch for that.

How Do You Clip Wings?
My friend Michelle had some chickens that were flying over every barrier in her backyard, so said I would help clip her hen’s wings. The “girls” were gracious enough to be out models for the step-by-step instruction.

1) You are only going to clip one wing – not both sides. Clipping only one side throws them off balance and even if they flap hard enough to get some lift, they will be out of control. If you clip both sides, some birds will be able to build up wing strength to still fly up and over things.

2) Have a friend help you. It is safer for the bird and easier for you. One person gently holds the bird and the other clips.

3) Be careful where you cut. There ARE blood vessels and bones in the wings. You do NOT want to cut in the wrong place! Only clip the “primary flyer feathers” as seen in the photo below.



4) Gently hold open the wing so that you can plainly see the primary flier feathers and the secondary feathers.

5) Clip the primary feathers only as far back as the next level of feathers. NO SHORTER! Backyard chickens has a nice illustration on their website that takes the guess work out of it.



6) That’s it! Easy-Peasy. I recommend you give your hen a treat for being a good sport. Then later, sit and laugh at her when she tries to fly up on a chair or planter. But be nice and don’t laugh too hard, it just might hurt her feelings.
 

Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
2,380
425
251
Texas
--Why do you want both breeds? If you just want to enjoy them and eat the eggs, you can let them mix all year long and not worry about it. The only reason they should need to be separate is to produce purebred offspring, and very few people are hatching eggs all year long.

--You could let them range together as one flock for most of the year, and pen them into separate coop/run arrangements for two months or so in breeding season (3 weeks before collecting eggs, plus however long you collect eggs)

This is a good idea. The two breeds only need to be separated for three weeks before eggs are to be collected to be incubated. Even if someone wanted to have two hatches a year, this makes a lot of practical sense.
 

Bullitt

Crowing
8 Years
Jan 16, 2012
2,380
425
251
Texas
Oh, just remembered another idea I've read about: each breed gets a coop/run, but they're let out to range on alternate days. So they get half their days free-ranging, and they never mix.
This is an excellent idea also.

The two ideas can be used together. Two or more breeds are running all together when not planning to collect eggs to incubate, and then they are separated into their own coops and runs three weeks before collecting eggs to incubate. Then on alternating days each breed is allowed a day to free-range. After all the eggs are collected to incubate, all the chickens go back together again as one flock.

I think this is the answer.
 
Top Bottom