Free Range Meat Chickens

opivyMarch 28, 2010

I have been looking into the possibility of utilizing my 40 acre farm (midwest) that is 30 minutes from where I live to raise free range meat birds (just for my family) in the summer months. I am looking for advise on wether or not this will be possible since I will not live on the property.

If I decided to do this, I will be providing housing, water and fencing to keep predators out (but not limit the birds). I will only be raising the birds until they reach fryer size and will be checking on them once a week. I would be raising the chicks in my garage in the city until they can be out on their own. The area that would be fenced off would be large to ensure enough foraging for each bird. If the area is large enough with ample water supply is it feasible to think that a once a week visit could ensure a high success rate and not risk undue harm to the birds? Looking at utilizing a heavy breed instead of a cross meat bird. Thanks.

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lazy_gardens

The hawks will have a feast, as will coyotes, bobcats, raccoons, skunks, and anything else that can fly over, jump over, or dig under your fencing.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 8:22AM
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gardengalrn(5KS)

Yes, I agree. I wish I could tell you that it would for sure work :( Most critters need daily care for not only feed/water (you may have this aspect planned out such as automatic waterers and such), but pest/disease management and predator management. Many of the predators of chickens are creatures of habit once a fine meal has been had. We had a hawk problem for a bit and he/she was relentless even with humans coming and going many times a day and my pen being right here near my home. Checking young birds only once a week will set you up for big problems if they get sick. Lastly, even in the event of having automatic feeders/waterers, things can go wrong. All it would take is one day of blistering heat and a broken waterer to kill your entire flock. Depending on the breed you pick, it could be especially problematic to not lay eyes on them each day. People have had good luck with the Cornish Crosses but those people are the diligent ones who meticulously maintain daily care. It seems that sometimes even my best plans are thwarted by something I didn't think of when it comes to my critters. I've gone a day without checking my girls/letting them out of the coop when we had a horrid blizzard lasting several days. But I considered that extreme and worried terribly. Let us know what you decide and if you decide to go ahead, how it turns out. I'm also getting some meat birds, 20 of them. Lori

    Bookmark   March 28, 2010 at 9:21AM
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greekbecky(6)

Opivy:
I've had flocks of chickens and the hawks, raccoons AND neighborhood dogs got at them! I had the girls fenced in a paddock attached to my barn where they slept at night. I had protective wire fencing and that still did not stop predators from getting at them as they dig under the fence easily. They do have electric fencing that you dig 6 inches into the ground, but its expensive and you have to do it correctly or its worthless. Have you ever cleaned up a bloody mess after a hawk attack or picked up hens with broken necks?...be ready for that if you don't protect them, its not the most fun thing. There's a good site to educate yourself before you get chicks or hens: www,backyardchickens.com I learned a ton from them...:)

    Bookmark   March 29, 2010 at 2:27PM
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woodrose711

OMG, your flock will be decimated in short order. Chickens are quite defenseless. I agree with greekbecky, check out "Backyard Chickens" website. It's very helpful.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2010 at 11:28AM
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