Letting your ladies roam the backyard has many benefits for both you and your flock. Your chooks will delight in the opportunity to sample all the goodies your garden has to offer. Grubs! Worms! Seeds! Grit! Free ranging your chooks means tastier and more nutritious eggs, naturally trimmed claws, exercise for plump poultry, mental stimulation for bored birds, a reduction in feed cost and nourished garden soil. It’s a wing wing situation for all involved!
There’s nothing more pleasant than spending a weekend afternoon, cuppa in hand, watching your fabulously feathered girls potter about the backyard. But maybe you are yet to experience this divine pleasure? Perhaps your yard is not secure? Or your chickens haven’t quite grasped the concept of property boundaries? Not to worry, you CAN know the joy of observing a free range flock thanks to the wonders of poultry fencing! Just set up your fencing to suit your yard and let your girls go wild!
Free ranging is all well and good you might say – but won’t somebody think of the veggie patch?! This is a legitimate concern! Chickens are notorious bad girls with a taste for succulent greens! While there are the occasional ladies who can show restraint, most chooks will clamber over each other to start in on your prize silverbeet! Poultry fencing provides great protection for your patch. So surround those veggie beds or keep your girls in their own V.I.P. (very important poultry) area with some easy to set up fencing and maintain the peace between girls and garden!
Caring for free range chickens is a complicated balancing act. On the one hand it is richly rewarding to liberate your girls from the confines of their coop, yet, on the other hand, the mother hen in all of us normally comes out and we find ourselves chasing the girls around the yard, warning them of all the dangers they might soon unknowingly wander into. So, before you fling open the gate and rechristen your chooks as fully free range chickens, it’s important that you consider the pros and the cons of this bold but irresistible move.
Ultimately, safety is the key concern when letting your flock behave like free range chickens do. Your chickens will have some difficulty defending themselves in a free range environment because, to put it simply, they are not at the top of the food chain. There are some tips and hints though that should help your girls adjust to free range chicken living.
Some owners make the distinction that their flock is either full-time or part-time free range chickens. The difference being that full-time free range chickens are left entirely to their own devices, essentially free to run wild over the property. Part-time free range chickens spend most of the day out of the coop, exploring the world however they come home at the end of the day to a safe warm coop. Though I don’t believe there is any “right” or “wrong” way to do this, I would probably recommend allowing your chickens the live the free range life on a part-time basis. Here are some handy ways to ensure that your flock lives a happy life as part-time free range chickens.
The key to having your girls live happily as a part-time free range chickens is basically to establish barriers and parameters for their own protection. Your girls may never be totally safe from all of life’s little dangers, but so long as you put measures in place to protect them from things that you know will prove to be threatening, you and your chickens should live a happy life together.
Letting your flock live the free range chicken dream is a truly rewarding experience for both you and your chooks. Though there are some challenges to face along the way to ensure that your girls are protected from some of life’s dangers, ultimately you’ll feel deeply gratified in knowing that you have brought limitless joy to the life of your flock.