What are free-range chickens?
Free-range chickens are birds that are provided regular access to the outdoor, with an abundance of sunshine, fresh vegetation, and room to maneuver. Moreover, these chickens are not fed with any chemicals (antibiotics or unnecessary medicines) of any sort. Federal ordinances forbid the use of hormones in raising pork and poultry. The animal’s organic forage cannot contain animal by-products, antibiotics or genetically engineered cereals. Also, the food must not be grown using tenacious pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It solely means that the chickens are permitted to wander freely and devour food that is native to their diet. Farming of such chickens is known as free-range chicken farming.
Young chickens experience fresh pasture and are not bound in any way.
Eggs laid by free-range chickens
The eggs produced by free range chickens have a much greater nutritional content than the eggs bought from stores. Free-range eggs carry double the amount of Vitamin E and six times the amount of vitamin A. They also contain limited saturated fat and four times the omega-3 fatty acids. The cholesterol content is half as much as eggs laid by hens raised in factories and shelters. If you consume the meat of free-range chickens, it considered much more nutritious than the meat of factory raised chickens.
Why free range chicken farming over traditional chicken farming?
There are several reasons why people opt for free range chicken farming these days.
#1 Endless supply of high-quality food
Free range chickens give you an unlimited quantity of high-grade food. Since these chickens are raised in a natural environment and not fed unwanted chemicals, the eggs laid by them are rich in nutrition, and their meat is also very healthy.
#2 Less space requirement
Since these chickens wander in the open during most of the day, they do not require large spaces for living. An individual living in an apartment can also purchase a portable chicken coop and raise free-range chickens. All you need to do is take them out in the open for food, water, and the sunshine.
#3 Low maintenance cost
Free-range chickens depend on natural vegetation for food and hence their maintenance cost is low. No chemicals or chicken food is required to raise them, resulting in limited spending.
#4 Reduced chance of diseases
Since the chickens are not caged together or held in a coop, there are minimal chances of them getting a contagious disease.
5 Helpful tips for free range chicken farming
If you are planning to take the free range chicken farming route, here are some helpful tips for you:
#1 Buy high-quality chickens from a certified dealer
The first and the most important step in free-range poultry farming is purchasing chickens from a certified dealer. Carefully examine the breed you want to raise and ensure that it is free of any disease.
#2 Take excellent care of the chickens until they mature
Keep the chicks inside a brooder till they have reached a growth period where they are ready to be brought out into the open.
#3 Build a protective fence around their roaming area
Design a fenced area where the chickens may wander freely. Ensure that you keep it reasonably high to prevent the entrance of domestic hunters like cats. It does not have to be big space, but make sure that it is sufficient for the numbers of chicks that you are raising.
#4 Built a coop on the fenced area
Remember to build a coop in the fenced-in area for basic shelter for the chickens. During the rainy climate, the chickens may be forced to house themselves to stay warm. Also, always keep some feed in the coop even if the birds are being motivated to gather food on their own.
#5 Keep them safe from domestic predators
Assess the area thoroughly before your chickens set out on their journey out in the open. Ensure that the area is free from native predators like cats and dogs.
How long does it take to grow a free-ranged chicken?
Chicken raised by traditional poultry farming techniques transform from a freshly hatched chick to a full-grown bird in an extraordinary 40 days which is approximately six weeks. Whereas, an organic chicken or a free-range chicken, which grows at a natural pace with natural food and habitat, takes more than twice as long to grown into an adult bird.
by Miriam Rolling – poultry farmer