Free Range Chickens are a must on every homestead.
They by nature like to scratch the ground for bugs, greens, and grain. By doing so they get all the nutrients that they need and are healthier than caged birds. Chickens are easy to raise and provide both meat and income for the homesteader.
Why are chickens valued on the Homestead?
In addition to providing food on the table, they also supply you with eggs. Six hens will supply you with roughly two and one half dozen eggs a week. When I kept records, my egg sales paid for my store bought feed. Any eggs and meat I enjoyed were my profits.
We buy our chicks only a few days old. They require a heat lamp to keep warm, and they need to be fed chicken starter for the first few weeks. Then I start mixing crushed grain such as barley, oats, wheat, or combination thereof such as half and half for three weeks. After that they get just the grain and are allowed to free range.
Here is a short video clip of Isa chickens inside a smaller pen for the night time mostly. Some people claim that Isa’s will lay themselves to death without purchased feed. That is simply not true. I was raised on a farm and all we ever gave chickens was mixed crushed grains combined with water. If we noticed the shells were getting soft, we would supply oyster shells or gravel.
Isa chickens are my personal favorite for temperament as you can pick them up to pet, egg laying capability, and meat. We tried raising leghorns and they are frightful, and require lots of hormone feeds to get to the size your used to from the store.
Some people build fences, while others have moving hen houses comprised of solid wood construction or tarpaulin type. Your choice depends upon the amount of land you have, and your time factor. Remember: fencing can be expensive!
Since I have 80 acres I prefer to provide about one acre that includes some bush for shade, and I use stucco wire for my fence. That keeps the chickens inside the fence along with the goats or sheep that I may have at the time. It cost me more but chasing goats can be frustrating when they get out, and I prefer to keep the chicken droppings confined to the barn area, than on my doorstep.
My family also noticed that the pig, chickens, and goats enjoyed each others company. However, the pig will root and make a mess, so it is best to have them confined to a ‘fence within a fence’!
Learn How To Build Your Own Chicken Coop
This is the perfect solution for people with small grassy areas, suburbs, and people who enjoy having the chickens close to the house. These chicken coops are small enough for a few birds and could be turned into a tractor coop with the addition of wheels or skids, that one could pull with a small garden tractor.
Garden tractors are really suited for people with small areas such as suburban. I have seen people in the country using chicken tractors due to the cost of fencing. My only problem with these tractors is that the chickens cannot freely run if the y choose to do so. However, the less they run, I suppose the more meat they gain. I guess it all depends upon what you want.