Aussie’s Guide to Healthy and Safe Free Ranging Chickens

Aussie's Guide to Healthy and Safe Free Ranging Chickens

Ever wondered about the upside of keeping free ranging chickens in your backyard? Or maybe you’ve questioned how to keep them safe from predators or pests while they’re out exploring?

I get it – these are big questions! No need to fret; I’m an experienced backyard chicken keeper.

We’ll dig into everything from creating comfy homes for our chooks to understanding their dietary needs. You’ll even learn how to spot health issues before they become serious problems.

5 Benefits of Free-Ranging Chickens

There’s something special about watching your chooks scratching and pecking around the backyard.

It’s not just for their entertainment, but free ranging chickens can benefit you too.

1. Healthier Eggs – The first advantage of free ranging your backyard chickens is that they’ll reward you with healthier eggs.

Studies have found that free range eggs possess higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and E than those laid by confined chickens kept in cages.

2. Improved Health Free ranging chickens tend to be healthier overall. They get exercise, fresh air, and sunlight, which can reduce the risk of obesity and common poultry diseases.

3. Pest Control – Free ranging chickens help control pest populations by foraging for insects and other small creatures.

They can be a natural and effective form of pest control for your backyard and garden beds.

4. Fertilisation – When chickens freely roam they deposit their droppings throughout your yard.

Chicken poop serves as natural fertiliser, enriching your garden soil with valuable nutrients. Over time, this can improve the health and fertility of your garden and lawn.

5. Enjoyment and Education – Keeping free-range chickens can be a rewarding hobby. You get to observe their natural behaviours, interact with them, and enjoy the satisfaction of producing your own fresh delicious eggs.

It can also be an educational experience for children and adults alike, teaching them about animal care and the food production process.

5 Benefits of Free-Ranging Chickens

Creating a Safe Environment for Free-Ranging Chickens

Chickens, when given the freedom to roam, can become healthier and happier. Securing the environment is absolutely essential for chickens that are allowed to roam freely.

Fencing Your Backyard – The first step in creating a secure space for your free-ranging chickens is setting up proper fencing. This not only keeps them within your yard but also helps deter predator attacks from foxes or stray dogs. Consider using chicken wire or mesh that’s sturdy enough to withstand potential attacks.

Predator-Proofing Coops – No matter how much time they spend outside, chickens need a safe place to retreat at night – their coop. Make sure you choose one from Coops and Cages, where every design prioritises safety.

Laying a protective barrier of wire or pavers, on the ground under, or around the perimeter of the coop will deter predators digging their way in and keep your chickens safe.

Providing Cover From Predators Above – Eagles and hawks are always on the prowl for a tasty treat. Protect your chooks by providing overhead cover like trees or even shade cloth if natural options aren’t available in your backyard.

This might seem like quite the task initially, but remember – taking these steps means giving your chickens more than just freedom; it gives them security as well.

A small investment of time and effort will let you enjoy watching happy hens peck around without any worry.

Lock Up Food Store chicken feed securely in a metal or rodent-proof container to prevent attracting rodents or other pests that could, in turn, attract predators. Coops and Cages treadle feeder is an ideal solution to keeping your flock’s food protected whilst still allowing them to feed freely.

Proper Lighting – Motion-activated lighting plays a crucial role in protecting free-range chickens from nocturnal predators.

When motion is detected, the sudden illumination startles and deters animals as well as alerting your chickens to potential threats, which enables them to quickly seek shelter in the coop or other secure areas.

Creating a Safe Environment for Free Ranging Chickens

Feeding Free-Ranging Chickens

Unlike their coop-bound mates, free range chickens have access to a smorgasbord of natural food sources. They’ll eat bugs, plants, and seeds in the backyard – nature’s own buffet. Still, they won’t be getting everything their bodies need.

Balanced Chicken feed – A balanced diet is key for your feathered friends’ health and egg production. Commercially produced chicken feed gives them necessary nutrients like protein, calcium, and vitamins. The RSPCA recommends layer pellets or mash as main meals.

Treats for Your Chooks –We all love treats. So do chickens. Fruits like watermelon can keep them cool on hot days while veggie scraps are great too. Somerzby has a great guide on what scraps not to feed chickens.

Grit: A Chicken’s Dental Floss –Your chook needs grit to grind down their food properly; think of it as birdie dental floss. Offering crushed oyster shell separately lets each hen get her fill without being pushed around by bossy beaks.

Feeding Free Ranging Chickens

Monitoring Health When Free-Ranging Chickens

Keeping an eye on your free-ranging chooks is vital for their wellbeing. Look out for changes in behaviour, such as less activity or decreased appetite, which might signal health issues.

Regular Health Checks

You need to regularly check your chickens for signs of illness. This includes checking their feathers and skin condition, eyes and beak cleanliness.

A healthy chicken should have bright eyes and a clean beak while unhealthy feathers can indicate parasites or other health problems.

Maintaining Good Nutrition

To keep your hens fit as fiddles, they’ll need a balanced diet with plenty of fresh water available at all times. Protein-rich feed like mealworms are fantastic but also ensure they get enough calcium by giving them oyster shell grit.

Maintaining good nutrition will make sure they lay strong eggs. For more info about what to feed chickens, check Somerzby’s Guide to the different types of chicken feed.

Ensuring Comfort When Free-Ranging Chickens

The comfort of your free-ranging chooks isn’t just about feeling good, it’s crucial for their health and egg production. A happy chicken is a productive one, but how do we make sure they’re comfy out there?

The first step to making them comfortable is providing enough space. They need room to stretch their wings and explore without stepping on each other’s toes – or claws. According to the RSPCA guidelines, each bird should have at least 4m².

An open-air run can be great when it’s sunny, but not so much during rain or scorching heat. So don’t skimp on shaded areas where they can take refuge in bad weather.

Besides shade, water access is vital too – especially during those hot Aussie summers. Keep fresh water available at all times; remember chickens drink twice as much in summer than winter.

A dust bath area might sound strange if you’re new to chicken keeping – but trust me here; chickens love a good roll in the dirt. It helps keep parasites away and promotes healthier feathers. Plus watching them enjoy this natural behaviour is priceless.

FAQs In Relation to Free Ranging Chickens

Is Free Ranging Good For Chickens?

Absolutely. Free-ranging lets chooks explore, peck at natural grub, and enjoy sunlight. This boosts their health and happiness.

What Kind Of Chickens Are Free Range?

In Australia, any chicken breed can be free-range as long as they have ample outdoor access during the day.

What Is The Downside To Free Range Chickens?

The main danger with free-range hens is potential exposure to predators or pests. They might also damage your garden a bit.

What Is Free Range Chicken In Australia?

‘Free-range’ in Australia means that chooks aren’t caged up but roam outdoors freely during daylight hours under specific conditions.

Jordan’s Wrap

I’ve been raising backyard chickens for quite some time now, and let me tell you, there’s something truly special about it!

Raising backyard chickens is like nothing else. It’s a lifestyle that connects you with nature, offering the joy of fresh eggs and the satisfaction of coexisting with our beautiful Australian landscapes.

But it comes with responsibilities: secure coops, vigilant protection, and a balanced diet are key.

Whether you’re a seasoned chicken keeper or new to the wonderful world of free ranging chickens, it’s a rewarding journey filled with delicious eggs and a newfound appreciation for life in your Aussie backyard.

Here’s to your flock’s well-being and the joy they bring!