There are so many ways out there now that you can raise pastured, grass-fed, or free range chicken. You can simply let them run around your yard, keeping them in a stationary (or movable) coop at night. You can also use that neat new invention called the chicken tractor. Moving it around your yard every day...
But which way is the best? We want to raise the healthiest, and happiest chickens, for the best meat and eggs on our table.
Picking up some bugs in the mint.
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We want the healthiest eggs we can get. I mean...why would we want any less?
From this study by Mother Earth News, pastured eggs are so much better than the factory-farmed eggs. They have 2/3 more vitamin A, three times more vitamin E, two times more omega-3, and seven times more beta carotene! No wonder pastured eggs are so orange!
Choosing the best egg laying chickens will also give you the quantity you want, as well as quality.
So...How do you achieve that in your situation?
You know that you want them on pasture. There are now so many ways that you can do that. And a lot of it is up to you.
The goal is healthy chickens right? Healthy chickens equals healthy food for our families.
Some questions to ask yourself when trying to decide how to keep your flock:
- How much land do you have for them?
- How many chickens are you going to have? Ten, or a hundred? there is a difference! :)
- Do you want them everywhere or are there somethings you really don’t want them getting into? Do you want them in your garden or not?
- Do you really want them right on the back porch? I can tell you they make a mess so be sure about this one. :)
We have 2 acres, with different sections that are fenced off.
In the back end of one pasture we have a stationary coop we built that opens up onto about 1/4 acre of (soon to be) grass. We let them out every day and they stay mostly in that 1/4 acre. They will get out sometimes, but they mostly stay right where we put them.
Our flock numbers definitely vary, but I’d say we have about 50.
They are allowed to eat any bugs They help keep the goats pen under control, by picking through their manure. They get any weeds they want and we are going to plant grass in that section this spring.
So how are you going to set up your flock?
Buff Orpington eating a moth!
Chicken tractors... are a great idea, if you are committed to being there every day and being really pro-active moving them around.
A moveable A-framed style coop... is what we started with. We still have it and will use it. It is nice to be able to move it around. But it is heavy. And I can’t stand up in it. That is the biggest downside. It is hard to work in there.
A stationary coop... will need bedding, and that will need to be cleaned out every now-and-then. Providing you have some grass right outside, this can work nicely, though. It is super easy. Just open the door every morning. Close it at night. This is what we are using right now for most of ours. This is more like the truly free range chicken.
Raising Free Range Chickens
It comes down to...
There isn’t the perfect chicken coop/tractor plan. They all have their downsides. They all involve some work. So don’t stress over it.
It may take some trial and error to find the one that works best for you. Just remember, the important thing is to raise healthy chickens. Get them on some pasture.
God created us to take dominion of His creation. And to do that responsibly, to the best of our ability.
As such, our goal is to raise our chickens the best we can. So enjoy the continuing learning process!