The weather has been perfect the last few days. Sunny, warm and dry. Perfect for free ranging chickens. A few years ago our chickens didn’t know about free ranging because they had always stayed within their pen. We had no protective barrier for free ranging chickens if they left the pen and predators lurked just beyond the clearing. So we keep them in their rather large pen surrounding the coop. Recently, we installed some additional electric fencing around the poultry and rabbit area. Adding the beautiful weather to the new security and I decided to bring a few chickens out to free range.
Are Your Chickens Free Ranging Chickens ?
I Always have such good ideas!
So we set off to combine a photo shoot with some free ranging time for a few chickens at a time. I thought this was a great idea! My husband was around and we were having a relaxed day. I explained my plan to which he said, “why do you need me?”
Now I do a lot of photo shoots all by myself but what you may not know is that there are an awful lot of shots like this
and blurry photos like this
when I do a shoot by myself. I explained to him that I would be lying on the ground to be at eye level and it would take me a few minutes to stand up and chase any escapees. That would be his job. Chief Chicken Wrangler. Yes, he was one excited camper. But he complied and we started to bring out some chicks first.
And then this happened…
There’s just something extra special about having something besides the brown dirt from the run as a backdrop to the photo.
The pullets were pretty excited about the grass. And then of course, someone had to defy the limits and slip through the fence.
Guess the pullets are still too little to be free ranging! She slipped through so easily.
The older girls needed to take a turn so the pullets had to go back in. Belle was more than eager to be picked up and brought through the gate. She would probably follow me anywhere. But no one else was excited about the opportunity to be free ranging chickens. I had to catch a couple more hens and when they were set down on the ground, they hovered around the gate, wishing to go back into the run!
I had hoped to have more green involved in this photo shoot so I needed to convince them to stay on the grass long enough for me to take some pictures! Chicken Wrangler to the rescue! He suggested grabbing the bag of meal worms and sprinkling them on the grass. (yes, he is pretty smart) This tactic worked like a charm and I was able to take some more photos of chickens foraging on grass.
And then the two hens marched right back to the gate and I was left with Belle, and the bag of meal worms.
Belle thinks foraging is a great idea!
Belle made herself comfortable next to the open bag of meal worms!
Why forage when a delicious treat is sitting right there for the taking.
The free ranging was fun for a change of pace and a diversion on a beautiful spring day. I don’t think we will ever let our chickens be totally free ranging chickens but maybe an occasional foray while being supervised will be a good thing. I love that they can grab more greens this way. And choose what their bodies need to eat. I try to provide a varied diet by bringing in lots of edible weeds and leftover greens from our kitchen. Foraging for your chickens is a great way to give them the nutrition from free ranging with out the added danger. Free Ranging is a management style of chicken keeping that everyone will need to decide on their own if it is right for their flock. I don’t like to lose chickens to predators. Our property is mostly wooded and is home to many wildlife predators. When we are not there supervising and doing chores, I still feel it is best to keep everyone in their runs.
As for Belle, she is a little bit of a couch potato I think. She said she would prefer to forage for meal worms, right from the bag!
Update 2016. In the last year we have added more poultry netting fencing and the chickens have been free ranging chickens more than ever before. It is still only when we are around the area, but they are always ready for the gate to be opened.
Buy your chickens a treat! Click image to purchase.
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Janet writes about many homestead and livestock related topics on her blog Timber Creek Farm. Her new book, Chickens From Scratch, is available now through the Timber Creek Farm website or from Amazon.com