South east texas new free ranger help needed.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by derfregal, Nov 8, 2014.

  1. derfregal

    derfregal Hatching

    May 18, 2014
    just fenced off some of my yard to free range our chickens. I had been feeding them 24/7 access to layer pellets from feed store. that was getting expensive hence the reason i decided to free range. They now have all day access to our weed grass (st Augustine). Our winters don't really get too bitter here on the gulf as a matter of fact, our grass is still green. What is the consensus on supplemental feeding for free range chickens. If I want egg production, do I have to supplement with layer pellets during the winter or will grass and bugs still keep them laying? thanks
  2. One hundred percent free range feeding and maintaining a balance nutritional diet would be almost impossible. You should continue to have "free choice" layer feed available to them. Also you can expect your free range area to be denuded pretty quickly by your chickens. Between their pooping which is too "hot" to fertilize directly, their scratching for food and their scratching/digging to create dusting areas your yard will not last.

    I have 22 laying hens and one rooster that free range 8-10 hours every day. They do pretty well since here in West Texas we have been having a grasshopper epidemic. But they also have access to layer pellets free choice. In addition I have oyster shell and grit available free choice. My feed bill is less than half what it was before I started free ranging but it is still there. And, my girls seem a lot happier and calmer with the ability to free range. It has however pretty much destroyed the area the range in. There are holes in the ground where they have scratched down to dust bath (even though they have a dust bath available to them) that they disappear into when they get in them. It is not as bad as my ducks free range which looks like a lunar landscape but it ain't good either.

    Just make sure they have what they want to eat available to them. Chickens are really good at balancing their own nutritional needs.
    1 person likes this.
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Songster

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    x2 what JTN said. You can cut down your feed bill by free ranging, but if you want healthy chickens that lay eggs, you'll need to continue feeding feed. Unless you have a very large yard and only a few chickens, yeah, they will eventually tear it up to nothing.

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