What Is Free Range Chicken Farming?
Free range chicken farming is the practice of having chickens that are raised mainly outside of pens and runs and only enter the coop at night. The chickens are allowed to roam free and forage for their food. You may also provide them with supplementary food in their feeders and water. Free range chicken farming can be done when raising backyard chickens. You don’t need lots of acreage.
What Are The Advantages Of Free Range Chicken Farming?
The advantages of free range chicken farming are numerous, one of which is that if you are selling the eggs or the chickens you will get a better price as people are willing to pay more for free ranged chickens and eggs. This is because the eggs and meat taste better, are healthier and are more nutritious with higher levels of nutrients and less fat. The cost of feed for free range chickens is less because the chickens will eat bugs and greenery when they are outside. You also don’t have to spend more getting them grit and rocks as they will find their own grit. Because their diet is so varied, they tend to produce more nutritious eggs.
Another advantage to free range chicken farming when raising backyard chickens is that chickens which are free ranged will weed and debug your yard because they prefer to eat weeds and bugs to store bought feeds. If you have a small garden and need manure, the chicken poop (guano) is an excellent manure source which will save you on additional costs. Free range chicken medical costs are cheaper especially if you decide to go with herbal and natural treatments for minor ailments such as lemongrass for detoxification, guava, chilies and garlic work as antibiotics and there are leaves that can be used as anti-mite and anti-parasitic medicines such as ipil-ipil leaves. You also don’t need to spend any more time cleaning up after them and the coop stays cleaner for longer.
Are There Disadvantages?
Free range chicken farming has its disadvantages however and you should take this into consideration when deciding whether or not to free range your chickens when raising backyard chickens. Free range chickens will often poop everywhere so if there are areas of your yard you may not want to get the chicken poop, you will have to find a way to block the chickens from those areas. Free range chickens will also tend to lay their eggs everywhere which can make it difficult to collect the eggs. The chickens may stray into neighboring homesteads and free range chicken farming makes them more prone to predators. The chickens also eat up the greenery so that some parts of your yard will be bare which can make your yard more unattractive.
Alternative Methods of Raising Free Range Chickens
One way to raise free range chickens without some of the disadvantages to free range chicken farming is to use paddocks or mobile pens, such as chicken tractors. These are a way to raise your chickens through a modified free range method while eliminating some of the problems such as poop everywhere, difficulty collecting the eggs, and lack of safety from predators. You can build a simple pen by using chicken mesh wire and making sure it is light for easy portability. Move it every so often so that the chickens have fresh grass to forage in and so they also don’t leave too much poop in one place.
Whether you go for the full or modified free ranging method for raising backyard chickens, free range chicken farming is an excellent way to ensure happy, healthy chickens with nutritious eggs and meat.