We just recently adopted our very first chickens and I knew right off whether or not we would free range our chickens. While the thought of free ranging is that they’ll be happy, there are more things to consider.
My friend Mindy over at Farm Fit Living is going to let us in on a little secret. Maybe free ranging is great, maybe it isn’t that great…. Here she is with more!
Are you facing of the dilemma of looking at pros versus cons of free ranging chickens?
Pros versus cons of free range chickens is kind of a big deal. You might think that the decision is a no brainer. Free range those chickens!
But wait just a minute there, homesteader. There are some cons I myself have faced with free ranging chickens that I want to share with you. I apologize in advance for playing devil’s advocate, but there are some issues with free ranging chickens you need to know about.
When I say free-ranging, I mean letting the chickens roam completely free. Absolutely no pen or fence around them at all. Because that is what people think of, although, “free-ranging” really means the chickens are not caged. They can range freely in a large pen.
Whether your chickens are free ranged or “free ranged” in a pen, one way could work better than the other depending on you and how you want to manage your chickens.
So, today, I’m going to give you some pros versus cons of free ranging chickens. I’m going to tell you my story by way of discussing the pros versus cons of free ranging chickens. All of these situations I will discuss are based upon my own eight years of experience raising laying hens for eggs to feed my family.
Now that you know a little bit about where I’m coming from, let’s jump right into the discussion. Here are the pros versus cons of free ranging chickens.
Pros of Letting Chickens Run Free
Ok, so let’s begin with the goods. The positives of letting those chickens free range in your yard or pasture.
- First of all, the chickens have plenty of room to roam around. They are free!
- Next, the chickens get plenty of exercise by running around all day in the yard.
- Finally, of course, the chickens can forage freely eating natural organisms and plants around the yard and garden.
Now, let’s get into those cons.
Cons of Letting Chickens Run Free
First of all, chickens stay in the yard for a little while.
- Then, they get bored and start to leave the yard. This results in your precious girls becoming lost or stolen from your property.
- Or, your chickens could become stressed if they are chased by dogs and/or cats. Yes, you could sit outside and monitor your chickens all day, but who has time to do that?
- Furthermore, your chickens could eat something that could make them sick. You really need to make sure that there is nothing harmful around your yard the chickens could be eating.
- Finally, chickens could wander out onto the road or a major highway. They could get ran over so easily. The joke about the chicken crossing the road? They don’t all make it to the other side!
So, now you are aware of some of the pros versus cons of free ranging chickens. Now, for a solution.
Solution to the Dilemma
So, with every decision, there is a third option. A solution that could beat out both the pros versus cons of free ranging chickens successfully.
This solution promotes keeping chickens safe and healthy. You’ll be able to monitor your chickens: What they eat as well as their safety.
My solution that I use for my healthy chickens was to build a long run attached to their coop. Here are the check points:
- 10 Square Feet of Run Space Per Large Chicken
- Grow Your Own Fodder or keep some organic feed on hand to put in the run.
- Use portable fencing you can move.
- Move around to different spots in the yard.
- Make sure chickens have plenty of water.
What About The Coop? Well, I have a portable coop I can move around with the fencing so they can still lay in their boxes. There are many plans out there for portable coops. Here’s an example.
Next, I’m going to tell you why I prefer this option.
Why I Prefer the Third Option
You might think I’m taking the easy way out. Maybe so. But, it’s really the best of both worlds. Hear me out.
Let me tell you why I prefer to pen my chickens in a large run.
Years ago, I was attempting to free range my chickens. I thought they would be safe, healthy, and stay right there in the yard.
And it worked great for a week or so.
But then, the chickens began to leave the yard. This made my Great Pyrenees angry and he tried to “herd” them back to the back yard. Bad idea.
When I gathered my chickens up for the night, I realized I was missing some. When I went to look for them, I found two more but two others were missing. I was devastated.
There could be several things that may have happened to my chickens. But the truth is it was my own fault that I didn’t take the initiative to keep them safe and sound.
Keep Your Chickens Safe & Sound
Yes, it’s true that the responsibility of keeping the chickens safe and sound is up to the chicken keeper. And that, my friend, would be you.
So, why not give your chickens the best of both worlds. The pros versus cons of free ranging chickens never has to be a hard decision to make. There is a solution if you know the chickens won’t be safe free ranging the yard.
The rules of chicken keeping says to make sure your chickens are:
Therefore, you need to keep these in mind when you are deciding whether to free-range chickens or not. That will help you make the decision that is right for you and your chickens.
Now that you’ve read the pros versus cons of free ranging chickens, which option will you make depending on your location and space?
Mindy Young is passionate about helping rural people discover a balanced rural life one step at a time. To create the life you want to live and start living the way you want to. You can learn more about here by visiting her at Farm Fit Living.