We are all becoming more concerned about the world around us these days. The farming sector is a prime example. In addition to worrying about the environment when running a farm, we want to support cruelty-free practices.
The market for cage-free eggs is worth more than $5 billion. That shows a lot of interest in the concept, and it could be why you’re interested in launching your own free-range chicken farm – out of either personal interest or as a business.
But free-range chicken farming is vastly different than caged poultry farming. It’s important to understand these distinctions if you want to be successful.
We’ve put together this article to help you figure it all out. It covers everything you need to know to start a free-range chicken farm successfully. You will know what to do to run a free-range farm that is eco-friendly and cruelty-free. So keep reading to learn more.
Create the Right Space
The most important part of your free-range chicken farm will be the space you provide for your chickens to roam.
The first step in creating a suitable space is building a fenced-in area on your property. It can be a very big fenced area if you want. But it needs to be contained so that chickens don’t wander off and get lost. Something like a mobile chicken coop can help with this.
If you can, try to find a space that either already has trees within it or has areas in which you can add trees. Trees in your space will promote natural chicken behaviors like foraging, bathing dust, and scratching.
Offer Safety From Predators
Another important part of the space you create is making sure that it offers shelter spots from predators.
Despite your best efforts, it’ll often still be possible for predators like coyotes or snakes to dig their way into your enclosed space. When that happens, your chickens should have somewhere they can run to keep themselves safe.
Provide Fresh Water and Good Food
Of course, if you want your chickens to lay a lot of eggs and be happy, you must ensure they’re taken care of. The first step is providing consistent access to fresh water and nutrient-rich foods.
Chicken fodder is the way to go for food. It’s an excellent protein source with all the vitamins and minerals your chickens need to stay healthy.
Plus, they can eat it as they would in a natural environment, making it an excellent fit for a free-range farm.
You also need to ensure that your chickens can access fresh water when needed. But this is pretty simple. You can keep large bowls of fresh water filled around the enclosed space and allow the chickens to drink from those bowls whenever they’re thirsty.
Make Sure the Economics Work
Running a free-range chicken farm costs money, not just what you have to spend to get the place up and running. You’ll have ongoing food, shelter repairs, and chicken care costs that will come up as you run your farm.
That’s why it’s important to ensure that your farm’s finances will work for you. If you’re doing this as a hobby, you may be content with paying for the costs of running your free-range chicken farm out-of-pocket. Make sure you have enough money to tackle unforeseen expenses when they arise.
But if you’re looking for a way to offset some of those costs, the most obvious way to do so is by selling some of the eggs you produce. You can do that at a local farmer’s market or through a partnership with a local grocery store.
If you run a farm, it may also be possible to use your free-range chicken enclosure as part of a broader farming experience that people can pay you to come to see.
Let Your Chickens Be Chickens
Finally, when you’re running a free-range chicken farm, it’s very important to make sure that your chickens get to express innate behaviors like dust bathing and running.
When chickens get to be chickens this way, they grow to be healthier and happier animals. And that ends up having a direct impact on the amount of yield that you get out of every bird.
Know Whether Free-Range Farming is Right For You
Now that we’ve covered the most important steps in starting a free-range chicken farm, it’s worth reflecting on whether this type of farming is right for you.
The benefits of running a free-range chicken farm include:
- Higher-quality eggs
- Lower feeding costs
- Happier chickens
- Lower risk of spreading diseases
However, free-range chicken farming isn’t a strategy that will allow you to optimize your egg yield with the space you have. You’ll get better quality eggs (which you can sell for a higher price). But you won’t get as many eggs as you would receive if you were running a more traditional poultry farming outfit.
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