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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by sQueek, Feb 14, 2013.
What is benefit of letting chickens go out of the cage and free range and is it worth the danger.
They are happier (That for me is reason enough)
You should see how happy our hens are to get out if they have been locked in the coup do to us sleeping in.
They forage and eat many things that are good for them including grass and bugs.
They are healthier because they can run and play.
I think all around if you can free rang or at least have a large run that is the best way to go.
You'll notice the benefit when you crack open one of your free range eggs, and then you'll taste it when you eat them
I think it makes for a much better egg, much happier chickens and a healthy yard. I let mine out when I'm going to be around to keep an eye on them, just in case they decide to run towards the street or an eagle appears looking hungry.
There are health benefits to ranging. But there is a higher chance of tragedy. It depends on your circumstances. Many years ago I had a fox and neighbor dog problem and I simply could not range my birds. I made a system in the coop with logs I rolled over once a week, maggot buckets and I brought lawn clippings to them. So both can have great results.
I let my chickens out in the evening when I can give them a little parental supervision. I really don't have a hawk or dog problem but I want to make sure they are safe in case a stray shows up. The eggs are big and colored nice, the chickens are healthy and they keep down the nuisance bugs in the yard. We really benefit from them eating ticks, spiders and grass hoppers in the yard. Yes....there is a greater danger that a chick will get eaten but we've had no problems and I recommend it.
There's no question that chickens love to get out and forage and roam around. Whether it is worth the danger is something each individual owner has to decide based on their circumstances and how they would feel about losses. People with larger flocks free range with the knowledge that they will have some losses occasionally. For people with smaller flocks it can be harder to absorb losses. Especially if a roaming dog wipes out your entire small flock.
Where I live I cannot free range or I would have no chickens at all in a very short amount of time. But my birds have the next best thing and have access to semi free range in about 3/4 of an acre of securely fenced goat pasture and scratch about in my barn. This apparently easily satisfies their desire to get out and forage as none of them ever try to get over the fence.
One thing nobody mentioned - your bug problems in your barn/house decrease. My chickens and ducks are kept in my side yard - I have had no ants, very few creepy crawlies and a much lower number of spiders. I assume this is because anything that is hatched in the yard doesn't make it past the chiciken brigade into the house. Compared to the previous summer without chickens, it was pure bug free bliss.