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Should chickens free range or be kept confined?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by sunny & the 5 egg layers, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. sunny & the 5 egg layers

    sunny & the 5 egg layers Overrun With Chickens

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    I am raising my first batch of chicks that are 4 weeks old. I would love to have my chickens free range every once in a while and go back to their coop at night. I dont know if they would free range every single day but I would like for them to be able to free range a couple days a week. What is the best thing to do? The days they arent let free, they will be able to run around in their little run we are planning on building for them. Is a free range chicken a healthier chicken? Also, I am raising them for eggs if that makes a difference. Thanks guys.
     
  2. Josie

    Josie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I think free-ranging is awesome. It takes some pressure off the feed bill, and enriches the egg yolks. The chickens are even more entertaining with room for all their antics. The big downfall is if you have a garden or deck you are particularly fond of.
     
  3. Missouri Chicken Chick

    Missouri Chicken Chick Out Of The Brooder

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    If you are raising them mainly for eggs, a free range egg has less cholesterol and more Omega-3's. As the previous poster said, free ranging really cuts down on the feed bill. Your biggest issue with free ranging is the concern over predators during the day. Mine free range most every day and then are locked in a coop at night and I have never had a problem. Even though I was raising mine mostly for eggs, I did get a big rooster (a light sussex) who seems to watch over my 12 girls pretty well. He definitely lets all of them know if something is up and they will all go running into the coop. You don't have to have a rooster, but I felt better having him around since I can't be outside with them all day long. Good luck with your chicks.
     
  4. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

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    It is basically a matter of choice. Once allowed to free range, they are not very happy being confined. Understand that if you do free range, eventually some will be lost to predators.
     
  5. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    THey are much happier ranging freely. And some breeds do not do well in confinement. I keep this chart handy for checking information like that:
    http://www.ithaca.edu/staff/jhenderson/chooks/chooks.html Henderson's Handy Dandy Chicken Breed Chart

    Mine all range freely but return to their coops at night.
     
  6. SIMPleChick

    SIMPleChick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my first time with chickens, I have less than a quarter acre and neighbors so I can't let them free range all day long. I am planning on taking them out...hopefully every good day...for at least an hour while I am outside too. I am hoping it works!! Lets see how good I get at wrestling them back into the coop during the day! I will have a large chicken tractor with the coop on top and a run area below so they at least have that on bad weather days...
     
  7. lady feathers

    lady feathers Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Free range if you can it makes for a happier healthier chicken, a more flavorful darker yolk in your eggs and it adds so much more to the enjoyment of them to be able to watch them be chickens. If you are worried about predators and are able to have one you might consider a roo.... they won't stop them all but will provide extra protection and security for your girls and bring to your attention when they crow a warning that something is up. If you are nearby you may get to see what the threat is and can "treat" the problem accordingly. Plus, they change the whole dynamic of the flock. (Not all of them are angry vicious attackers-I promise) If you can't have one.... my girls free-ranged happily lon before our roo ever came on scene, but like previously stated be prepared for the occasional loss. If you choose not to free-range just remember the bigger the better for their run and enhance it with "toys", buckets, perches, branches, etc.. to climb on and change things up/ re-arrange every now and then to keep them entertained.
     
  8. emsdial911

    emsdial911 Chillin' With My Peeps

    FREE RANGE but watch out for the chicken poo every where especally on the front portch when you go out in the morning [​IMG] Mine come around to the front portch every morning and get their fill of the dog food.

    Also if you free range you will get a kick out of watching them in the yard. My wife will watch them from the dinning room table or the kitchen windo and will call me when they are doing something funny.
     
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2011
  9. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I free range...it allows them to get more grass,weeds,bugs...etc.I definitely think the more they are out,the better.They are fun to watch in the yard and seem to love it as well.The down-side is the poo...they seem to have a fettish for roosting on the porch gate...and where they roost...they poo!So my vote is...freedom to be a chicken as much as possible for your area [​IMG]
     
  10. chickgrowerdan

    chickgrowerdan Out Of The Brooder

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    This picture encompasses 90% of my "farm". My 4 hens spend the first half of their day in their tractor and the last half "free ranging" the yard. Then I have 5 more chicks and one rabbit that are living in the garage and also run the yard in the late day. I'd totally let them run loose all the time if I were not in a full on urban setting and my neighbors didn't allow their dogs to roam free in the mornings. So I give them as much free range as I can and still keep them safe, as a good farmer should, in my opinion. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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