There are many reasons why people decide on free ranging their chickens. Birds are often happier and healthier, and as a result, they produce more eggs and are less likely to get sick. However, while there are many reasons to free range, there are also just as many reasons not to. Free ranging requires regular supervision, and there is always the chance that one of your chickens can get caught by a predator. Some people—like those who live in the city—may not have the room to free range.
Weighing the pros and cons of free ranging your chickens can help you decide which path is right for you and your flock. Read on to learn more:
The Pros of Free Ranging Chickens
Perhaps the biggest reason to free range chickens is that you end up with happier chickens as a result. Animals like to run around outside, stretching their legs and soaking up the sun. The freedom to roam around and explore their surroundings will make your chickens happier than if they’re stuck inside a coop or run.
They will eat less feed
Chickens love to eat. If they’re relegated to their coop or run, they’ll mostly eat feed. However, if they’re able to roam around, they’ll snack on grass and insects instead. By filling up on plants and critters throughout the day, your chickens will consume less feed. This kind of variety in their diet is not only better for them, but it will also save your wallet as you’ll be filling up on feed less frequently.
They’ll keep bugs under control
As we said, free ranging chickens will spend their days snacking on grass and insects instead of feed. They’ll munch on practically any type of bug there is. This can be a massive help to those of us who are battling bugs throughout the day. It can also be an eco-friendly way of removing pests from around your home, as you won’t have to turn to herbicides or pesticides to keep insects under control.
They’re more active
If you give your chickens more space to roam, they’ll be more active. It’s as simple as that. More active birds result in healthier birds and a happier flock overall. Additionally, since they aren’t living in close quarters, your chickens will be less likely to catch illnesses or diseases.
The Cons of Free Ranging Chickens
Predators can attack your chickens
Free ranging will make your chickens happier and healthier, but there are risks involved, specifically with predators. Raccoons, foxes, cats, dogs, coyotes, and other animals will eventually come after your flock. In a coop or run, your chickens are well-protected, but when they’re out in the open, they are left vulnerable to any animal that may be lurking around.
Your chickens will go after your garden
While chickens will eat up grass, weeds, and bugs, your garden will also be fair game. If you don’t want your flock nibbling away at your flowers or plants, you’ll have to protect your garden with chicken wire and stones to keep it out of reach.
They’ll make a mess
Chickens are messy. They’ll dig, chew up your garden, and roll around in the dust and dirt. Not to mention they will defecate wherever they please. This can wreak havoc on your perfectly manicured lawn. So, keep this in mind if you’re the type of person who likes to keep their backyard looking as perfect as possible.
Which is best for you?
Frankly, the benefits of free ranging can’t be beaten. However, free ranging can be difficult for some people, so it’s up to you to decide if the negatives outweigh the positive. If you have to confine your flock, be sure to give them plenty of room and keep them active throughout the day.
If you have more questions on free ranging your flock, contact Chickens for Backyards today.