Free Range Chickens (Sort of)

Free Range Danger

We live in an area with an abundance of predators. We’ve had coyotes and bobcats as well as hawks and owls within 100 feet of the homestead. In addition, we have neighbor dogs that roam the area freely.

These factors are not favorable to letting our chickens free-range at will. However, we do enjoy the benefits of letting them forage for their food when we can.

Free range confinement
In the chicken yard

Before letting them out of the chicken yard to run free it is important that they know where home is. We raised these chickens from hatchlings but we still didn’t let them out the first day in the big coop. We made them stay in their yard for a few weeks until they consistently went to roost in the coop each evening.

free range coop
Going to Roost

My chickens are also highly motivated by chicken scratch. I started training them to come to my call of “Chick Chick Chick” from the day I brought them home by feeding them when I’d call. Now I can call them in and put them up if I need to leave the homestead anytime they are free-ranging.

free range yardFree Range Chickens (Sort of)

Having overly friendly chickens can have drawbacks. If you’re trying to do anything in a flower bed or garden they will want to help and they can be hard on some plants. They love tomatoes and most squashes so you’ll probably want to fence them out of the garden. And you may want to put a gate on your porch.

free range porch

On the porch

All things considered, having chickens is worth the effort. We bought a dozen chicks last spring and ended up with seven hens and five roosters. Two of the roosters have gone to the pot.

Honestly, two more should go but I’ve gotten somewhat attached to them (at least too attached to put them under the ax). Seven hens produce way more eggs than the three of us care to eat, but we share the excess with friends and family.

I’m sure we’d have no trouble selling eggs but for now, giving them away makes me happy. One thing I need to do, whether I sell or give them away, is to buy some more egg cartons.

Please, leave a comment and let us know what we can do to improve.

 

 

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