Free-range poultry?

Almost Eden

Golden Chicken
Messages
111
I've noticed that many people here claim to free-range poultry. I thought I did too, but after reading an article about it, I'm starting to wonder if I should call my method something else. It looks like it mostly boils down to fencing. So, if you let your birds out of their run for a good portion of the day, and you don't use any other fencing or barriers to keep your birds within certain bounds of your property and away from your other livestock if needed, then how do you keep your ducks, chickens, turkeys, guineas, pheasants, quails, geese, and other fowl safe? How do you keep them from wandering onto the road, from snatched by predators, from getting lost, or from bugging the neighbors?
 

RichZ

Bean Stalker
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
281
I've noticed that many people here claim to free-range poultry. I thought I did too, but after reading an article about it, I'm starting to wonder if I should call my method something else. It looks like it mostly boils down to fencing. So, if you let your birds out of their run for a good portion of the day, and you don't use any other fencing or barriers to keep your birds within certain bounds of your property and away from your other livestock if needed, then how do you keep your ducks, chickens, turkeys, guineas, pheasants, quails, geese, and other fowl safe? How do you keep them from wandering onto the road, from snatched by predators, from getting lost, or from bugging the neighbors?
I guess it boils down to how your property is situated. If you have enough property for fowl to free range without getting into the road or your neighbors' property, then you can free range. Predators can always be a problem. In my case, it's never been the predators that you would expect. I've lost fowl to an inconsiderate neighbor's dog, who used to run onto my property and kill my chickens and also hawks who took many half grown chickens. I no longer let chickens free range until they are full grown, and I no longer live near the inconsiderate neighbor, so I manage to control my predator problems now.
 

Urban Homestead

Golden Chicken
Messages
117
I didn't realize that was the big limitation. I guess I don't free range either. I let mine out of their run, but our entire property is fenced in. They can wander over a few acres of land, but the chickens definitely can't get out. I also put fence around some garden areas to keep them out at times. I live in an urban area and I have neighbors, but I'm on the end and no one is behind us which is where the bulk of our land runs. I honestly couldn't let them go wherever they want. I can't have a rooster either. I let them out in the morning and put them up before the sun goes down.
 

RichZ

Bean Stalker
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
281
I didn't realize that was the big limitation. I guess I don't free range either. I let mine out of their run, but our entire property is fenced in. They can wander over a few acres of land, but the chickens definitely can't get out. I also put fence around some garden areas to keep them out at times. I live in an urban area and I have neighbors, but I'm on the end and no one is behind us which is where the bulk of our land runs. I honestly couldn't let them go wherever they want. I can't have a rooster either. I let them out in the morning and put them up before the sun goes down.
How high is the fence that you have? Chickens can fly to a limited extent, and they're good at flying to a low branch and then working their way up. My chickens would need a pretty high fence to keep them in.
 

Henderson

Farm Hand
Messages
101
Now wait a second, I would consider that free ranging, @Urban Homestead. Most farmers do have fences, often electric fences at that with no trespassing signs and cameras. It keeps people out! The spirit of free ranging the animals is all about treating them as nature and GOD intended. That's what you're doing. You don't have them confined. They can stretch their wings, scratch at the earth, chase after bugs, dust bathe freely, and all the good things that make chickens happy. I think it's okay to use a chicken tractor when you want them to focus on scratching up certain area and fertilizing it to boot. I think it's okay to keep them in their run at sundown until it's time to go in the coop. So long as they get hours and hours of a normal life every day, then I count it as free ranging. To me, turning them out to pasture is free ranging.
 

RichZ

Bean Stalker
Top Poster Of Month
Messages
281
Henderson, I think it depends on how big the enclosure is. My first farm was 10 acres, which I had fenced. I don't think there was any problem enclosing a hundred chickens within 10 acres. But some people might have a tiny enclosure and try to call that free ranging. I knew someone who kept their chickens in a barn and had about 10 feet of enclosed space outside of the barn and they tried to call that "free range". It wasn't free range.
 

greg

Farm Hand
Messages
91
I think there is no definite yes or no answer to whether you should free-range your chicken; you should first understand the pros and cons of doing this. Again, since this involves allowing the chicken to access the outside, the space available is another factor. It may be safe to let them wander since most fast food franchises prefer to buy eggs from free-range chicken.
 
 
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