Free Range Chicken Farming – Top Things to Consider
In this day and age, technology and signs of progress surround everything we see, do and even eat. Many people are opting to get back to the basics and are choosing to grow their own gardens and raise their own livestock. One popular trend is raising backyard chickens. Some people may choose to raise chickens to eat or for their eggs. Either way, a family will benefit from the decision.
Free range chickens are reportedly the best tasting if you are considering meat chickens. The eggs of chickens that are free-range have yolks that are more yellow than chickens fed a diet of chicken feed only. The eggs are also higher in Omega-3s than standard store bought chicken eggs. Below are a few things a family should consider before making the final decision to raise free-range chickens.
*How much space can you dedicate to the chickens?
Free-range chickens do not require a great deal of space and can be kept in an average sized backyard. The idea behind free-range is to let the chickens graze through the grass to eat the bugs and greens that are in the area. Chickens will not stray too far from their coop, but if they are spooked, they may fly over a four foot fence. If you have neighbors, it is a good idea to install a fence that is at least six feet high to keep the chickens in during any flying episodes.
*Family pet issues
Family pets may be an issue if they have never been around chickens before. If a family wants to have free-range chickens and pets it is best to keep the pets inside or penned up while the chickens are out and about.
*Chickens and children
Children do not generally pose an immediate problem for the chickens. However, if the chickens will be using a backyard as their range, remember they do poop a lot. Kids and adults alike may not appreciate the mess chickens tend to leave behind. Chicken poop is great fertilizer but can be harmful to lawns if the chickens are allowed to stay in any one spot for a long period of time.
*Is there enough space for a chicken coop?
Chickens must have a coop or house to be locked into at night. This is also where most of the chickens will lay their eggs. Wild animals or stray dogs are a threat to chickens. A family will need to secure their chicken house with mesh wire all around the bottom or foundation as well. This will help keep out raccoons and other critters that will try and steal the eggs. Most chicken coop plans are designed to be raised off the ground several inches to prevent some egg thieves from gaining entrance.
*How much work are you willing to put in?
Lastly, one of the most important things to consider before choosing to raise free-range chickens is the time and energy involved. Cold winter months will require a heat lamp to be on almost constantly to keep the chickens warm. If there is a great deal of snow on the ground the chickens will need to be fed inside their coop. The chickens will need fresh water every day as well. This means trudging through the snow to the chicken coop carrying water.
Many people feel the benefit to raising their own chickens far outweigh the minimal amount of work involved with actually caring for them.