Keeping Chickens Free Range
Pros & Cons
Keeping chickens free range can have it’s ups and downs
We will outline some of the most common pros and cons when it comes to keeping chickens free ranged and I think it is important that you consider all of them when thinking about free ranging your chickens. There is more than just the welfare of the chickens to consider.
- Eggs – Free ranging chickens can provide you with significant amounts of eggs daily. Because they are finding grubs, worms and other food other than just grain, this can help increase egg production.
- Health – The natural feeding helps the chickens to be healthier overall.
- Pest Control – Your chickens will provide a great source of natural pest control. By eating things such as ticks, grubs, grasshoppers, etc.
- Reduce Costs – Feed bills are a lot lower when you free range your chickens. They find a world of food sources out there and will actually eat the grain last, given the choice.
- Healthier meat – When free ranging chickens they find the ultimate sources of food proteins and eat a lot of vegetation. The health benefits can carry over to the meat and in turn, be healthier for you to consume.
While having free ranging chickens does have its benefits – it does come with its drawbacks as well. Not everything will be easy while trying to manage your flock, as you will have to deal with some of the natural things that come with owning free ranging birds.
- Wanderers – Part of having your birds as free ranging, means that they will likely wander off. This could potentially cause trouble as they may find themselves in the road holding up traffic, or even worse – in your neighbor’s yard. A neighbor who may not be as happy to see your chickens as you are.
- Hide & Seek – Free range your chickens and expect to constantly be playing hide and seek with eggs. The chickens will hide them (randomly) and you will have to do your best of finding them. The good thing is, usually once a hen gets use to laying in one spot, she will continue to.
- Manure – Part of the problem with free ranging chickens is that you will have to constantly watch for the “land mines” that they will leave for you anywhere and everywhere. It will be a never ending battle of keeping your yard clean. It can get smelly fast. If you have dogs… well… you can imagine the gross thing I am going to avoid saying here.
- Predators – One of the other down sides to having chickens free ranging is that they attract wildlife predators that may not necessarily have been in your immediate area. Make sure your free ranged hens have a coop and that they get back to it before dark.
- Gardens- Chickens can tear up your flower and vegetable gardens in no time at all. I suggest having a low fence around the gardens to keep them out.
If you have a lot of land and no close neighbors, free ranging pros can out weigh the benefits. However, if you live in a neighborhood close to streets and house, I suggest keeping them in a nice sized coop and run.
Be sure to check your local town ordinances before you even consider free ranging. A lot of places may not allow it.
Decide to house your chickens in a coop and run? Find out how big it should be here: