Hi all - I was wondering if the community could shed some light on this for me. Together with my next door neighbors I launched a flock of 6 hens about two weeks ago. On the third day we started to let them free range around our backyards (they are connected). They really seem to like it and they peck away at the dirt and grass, but they do poop all over the place. I personally am not grossed out so much by the poop, especially when it's dry. But one of my neighbors just expressed concern about our kids making contact with the poop, and my wife agreed with him. Their suggested solution is to put an end to the free-ranging and just let the 6 hens make do with their run (about 9 feet long by 3 feet wide by 3 feet tall). So my question is, what are the proven or alleged benefits of free-ranging to the chickens, and do these benefits outweigh the risks of illness to kids from coming into contact with the poop? Alternatively, should we just commit to cleaning up chicken poop that gets dropped during free ranging, thereby minimizing the kids contact with the poop and preserving the chickens' ability to free range. In short, just how important is free ranging? Thanks!