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Should You Free Range?

Should You Free Range?

When it gets hot, I mean REALLY HOT out, it does your flock good to be able to get outside, take dust baths and stay in the shade.  Chickens will naturally seek cooler areas like bare soil and shade and the ability to do that in the yard can definitely help with their well being.

If you are still trying to make a decision on whether your flock will be allowed a little free range time during the day, here is a few pros and cons to the highly debated decision.

Pros of Free Ranging:

  • Save money on chicken feed by allowing them to forage on their own for some of their food.
  • Easy way to balance their nutrition with vitamins and minerals from fresh greens and soil, plus a little protein from bugs.
  • Mental health boost, they will run, fly and play like never before.
  • Decrease of yard pests like fleas and ticks as well as weeds.

Cons of Free Ranging:

  • Predator attacks are much more likely.
  • Possibility of getting out into the road and being hit.
  • They could wander and get lost, although for the most part chickens will instinctively stay within sight of their coop.
  • They will destroy gardens, landscaping and carefully mulched areas.  Make sure you have put up fences before letting them out.
  • Neighbors.  This is the reason we had to build a 100' chicken yard instead of free ranging.  The chickens don't observe property lines and there is nothing like a neighbor who doesn't share your love for your flock.

Can you think of any other reasons to or not to free range?  We'd love to hear from you!