True definition of FREE RANGE????

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by HappyFarmLady, Jul 1, 2011.

  1. HappyFarmLady

    HappyFarmLady Chirping

    Feb 13, 2011
    NE Kansas
    Is the true definition of FREE RANGE to only allow your chickens to find their own food? Do any of you do this? or do you all supply them with chicken feed?

    I had switched their feed to a locally made chick grower and they were tossing it all out of the feeder. So I decided to let the feeder go empty and they could eat what was on the floor. Now that that is almost gone too and I need to buy more......was just curious how everyone else does this.

    PS I had read somewhere that eggs are healthier if the hens are not fed grains. ????? [​IMG]

  2. A.T. Hagan

    A.T. Hagan Don't Panic

    Aug 13, 2007
    North/Central Florida
    Is the true definition of FREE RANGE to only allow your chickens to find their own food?

    No, that is called neglect. Even if all you're giving them is a handful of corn every day you still have to feed them.

    "Free range" is just what it sounds like. They are free to range about the property. Maybe this is a large fenced pasture or maybe it's no fences at all, but free to run and roam and find what they want. Unless you have only a handful of birds though to a very large area you'll still need to provide feed for them. In the fat time of year they won't eat much of what you provide. In the leaner times such as late fall through early spring and during dry spells they may eat a lot of it.
  3. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    There is no simple answer to any of your questions; there are multiple viewpoints.

    The way the term free range is used on BYC, it can mean anything from turning them onto a large field or pasture, to turning them loose in a small suburban back yard.

    Few if any chickens are expected to find all their own food these days. Around here, the old fashioned way was to feed a little cracked corn and whatever table scraps and leftovers were available, and let them find their own grass, bugs, etc. This did not produce the healthiest chickens, but they would survive if there was enough forage and leftovers. Now, people who let them forage over a large, fruitful area generally do find they eat a lot less feed in the months forage is available, but they still eat some.

    If they are tossing all the feed on the floor, it is likely they are after the corn, which is a treat to them. In commercial feed the corn is there but processed into a homogenous mixture, so they don't pick and choose. Corn is chicken candy -- they love it, and while it is not necessarily bad for them, a diet of corn alone is not enough. Also, sometimes tossing feed means you need to raise the feeder higher. Mine hang at the level of their "shoulders," just below where the neck begins.
  4. HappyFarmLady

    HappyFarmLady Chirping

    Feb 13, 2011
    NE Kansas
    Quote:Thank you!! I will raise the feeder, first of all!

    Don't get me wrong, I DO FEED MY CHICKENS!!! I was just curious. My chickens have free range of the yard and pasture and are happy and healthy!!
  5. Chris09

    Chris09 Circle (M) Ranch

    Jun 1, 2009
    A lot depends on where you are and how loosely you use the term "Free Range" Wikpedia describes free range as;
    Free range is a term which outside of the United States denotes a method of farming husbandry where the animals are allowed to roam freely instead of being contained in any manner. In the United States, USDA regulations apply only to poultry and indicate that the animal has been allowed access to the outside.[1] The USDA regulations do not specify the quality or size of the outside range nor the duration of time an animal must have access to the outside.[2]

    The term is used in two senses that do not overlap completely: as a farmer-centric description of husbandry methods, and as a consumer-centric description of them. Farmers practice free range to achieve free-range or humane certification, to reduce feed costs, to produce a higher-quality product, and as a method of raising multiple crops on the same land.

    Free range may apply to meat, eggs or dairy farming.

    In ranching, free-range livestock are permitted to roam without being fenced in, as opposed to fenced-in pastures. In many of the agriculture-based economies, free-range livestock are quite common.

    Also The Free Dictionary describes free range as;
    Of, relating to, or produced by animals, especially poultry, that range freely for food, rather than being confined in an enclosure: free-range chickens.

    Now most people here on BYC use the term "Free Range" as meaning not in a coop and or run but still confined in a yard.
    I my self don't see this as Free Ranging because there still confined in a yard and not free to range or roam at will but I would consider this as "Cage Free".
    When I myself use the term Free Range I refer it to my fowl having free roam with no confinement or fences. They do have a shelter that they go in and out at free will and they do have access to feed and water but I do not pen them up at night and they do not have a fence to keep then in a area.

    I understand that most people can not just let there chickens run free but then most people don't truly Free Range.

  6. ChickInDelight

    ChickInDelight Never an Empty Nest

    Apr 27, 2011
    Browntown, VA
    My 4 chickens are kept in a small hutch at night with a feeder and a hamster water bottle. During the day, I open the hutch and fill their feeder so they have to go back in if they really want Purina. My birds stay out all day eating bugs and whatnot. (I provide water in the yard.) The chickens put themselves back in their hutch at night, and I go by to close the door.

    The chickens are rarely interested in what I toss into the yard unless it is bread or feed.

    My girls really seem to prefer what they find to what I buy. [​IMG]
  7. Okie Amazon

    Okie Amazon Songster

    Mar 22, 2011
    Midwest City
    I turn my chickens out each morning to roam our 2 and 1/2 acres. I put a little feed down before I leave for work and some more down inside their pens/coops just before dark time, so they can get full "bellies" to sleep on. The guineas are never shut up, unless I have to catch them up because of weather. (See my post about unconcious guineas!)

    That may change with our newly hatched silver/blue guineas. I think I will probably NOT them run wild and free with the others. We started last year with 10 keets and we are down to only 6 of our original birds - 2 fell prey to our own dogs who did not yet realize the guineas were OURS and belonged. Plus the dumb birds flew right down into their mouths in the dog kennel! [​IMG] The other two we are not sure what happened, neighbor dog? barn cats? hawk?
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011

  8. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    mine sleep in the coop/run at night, then we let them out in the day, they have over 300 acres to roam and do what they like...they still get fed starter, they are only 12-13 weeks, and treats, that is how I trained them to "LOVE""free range", "free roam" to do what they will!
  9. CircleC

    CircleC In the Brooder

    Jul 1, 2011
    So, they can be out as early as 12 weeks??
  10. JodyJo

    JodyJo Songster

    Sep 27, 2010
    how large are they, can they get to safety from a hawk or other predator? Mine are out, have been since about 9 weeks...they know where to run if they need...
    You can let them out then lure them back in a while later, till they get used to coming in at night..usually by dusk, the chickens will head into the coop...but they may need coaxing, with treats.

    Here is a link to some treats...they will get it soon and put themselves in at night
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2011

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