Free Ranging Your Chickens

Image from Backyardchickens.com

Our girls love to run and fly around the back of The Keep. Their “home” is a portable coop called a “tractor”. They lay their eggs there, eat chicken feed and share stories around the water tank. But when the door is open, they are out and running for the bushes!

Chickens are domesticated versions of wild fowl, and their instincts are closely tied to their ancestries. Given the chance, chickens will take healthy dust baths, scratch and peck, preen and hunt as if they were back in the forests and jungles. This activity helps produce far healthier eggs and meat. It also helps clean up your yard of insects. We had a grub problem that disappeared, and the battle against the tomato and cabbage worms is much more manageable.

I came across a great article on free ranging that I’d like to share with you. HERE is the link.  I recommend it for anyone with a “backyard flock” or much larger sustainability operations.

If that gets you going, check out THIS article from Homestead.org, the “How and Why of Free Range Chickens.” From this article, is supporting factoids for free range results:

“The nutritional value of free-range eggs makes this challenge a worthwhile endeavor for the homesteader wanting to produce higher quality eggs for a healthier diet.  Recently, Mother Earth News did an egg study comparing free-range eggs to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutrient data for commercial eggs.  The findings showed that free-range chicken eggs produced the following results:
• 1/3 less cholesterol
• 1/4 less saturated fat
• 2/3 more vitamin A
• 2 times more omega-3 fatty acids
• 3 times more vitamin E
• 7 times more beta-carotene”

We have not gone the eat-yer-bird route. Our production of eggs has been a source of pride, and the expanding produce section of our operation does nicely as well. We’re working towards much greater variety and quality of foods. As of now, our meats are store bought, and with as few questionable additives (“0” is the usual) as possible – generally grass fed naturally raised beef and quality sourced ham and turkey. Our long term storage meats are freeze dried.

I do sense some canning in our future….

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