Free Range Chickens

Look closely my chickens are out in the pasture.

Look closely my chickens are out in the pasture.

Recently  I wrote about not being happy with a white chicken.   If I kept my chickens confined then this would not be an issue.   Lucky for my chickens I let them free range.   Free range is a natural method of raising chickens.   It allows them time to range out in nature, eating bugs, slugs, seeds, grasses as they naturally would.     Free range chickens produce eggs that with yellower yolks, have a creamier taste, and are naturally higher in Omega-3!   Unfortunately running around free range also has some serious risks.   Predators love chickens.   Predators can be what you all think of,  foxes and coyotes.  There can be some not so common predators from the air hawks or an occasional eagle.   It can also be the neighbor’s dog.  When a pet kills or maims your livestock this can create some serious conflict.   Everyone in this picture has some responsibility.   As a chicken keeper I have an obligation to reduce the risk of running in to predators, by picking chickens who blend in with my landscape.   I also reduce the likelihood they will meet a predator by keeping them in the chicken run until the sun is up and confining them as the sun starts to set.   I have lost one to a hawk.   I have added some more cover for them after that loss.     I have had  to called the neighbor two pastures over when her dogs decided to do a long-distance adventure and came pouncing into my chicken run.  Occasionally I have found the chickens  further from home than I would like.   When that happens I haze them and then reward then with food treats when they come home.     Those birds are my responsibilities.   It isn’t a perfect science. but it works well enough for me.

Now you know why a white chicken wasn’t my first choice.  One look at my photo of my pasture this spring with my existing flock tells you she would have a bull’s eye on her.  I suspect I will have to make some adjustments to how I manage my flock for her safety when she grows up.