L&A Family Farms
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Free-Range For a Day

Posted 3/25/2017 4:45pm by L&A Family Farms.

     From a distance, it appeared our hens were out enjoying their pasture on the first full day of spring; however, upon closer inspection, there were no fences confining these hens.

     This group of egg layers arrived on the farm in the fall of 2016. After spending six weeks in the brooder house, they made their move to the hoop building for winter housing. Chickens – true to their name – are scared of anything unusual in their enclosure whether it runs, walks, or just sits. A good example of this behavior unfolds when feeding them fruit and vegetable scraps. The mere tossing of a banana peel sends the flock into panic mode, causing them to flap their wings and scatter in all directions, filling the building with dust. Since cold weather arrived before they were old enough to enjoy the pasture, they hadn’t experienced time outside of the building until Tuesday.

     At some point during the day, gusty winds blew one of the doors open on the building.

Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it also drove the hens outside to explore their surroundings. They didn’t just stop at the pasture, though. With their instincts kicking in, the hens scrambled across the property line where a wooded area with low sprawling bushes and briars offered better protection from predators in the air. There they set up camp for the day and enjoyed scratching through leaves, eating any bugs or seeds they found, and perching on tree branches. They were happy, happy, happy!


 

Happy hens!

     

     Any attempts made to usher them back inside only sent them further into the woods, so the decision was made to wait for another instinct to kick in. When the sun begins to set, chickens head for their homes to roost for the night. This can be a pain when moving them to different buildings since they’ll attempt to return to their old home, but it was helpful in this situation. Once the sun started sinking below the horizon, some of the hens went inside on their own, but a hundred or so required some persuasion.

     Herding chickens can be interesting. It is best to keep them in groups because if singled out, they’ll take off full speed, beginning a seemingly never-ending chasing game. The herding process clearly explains why people came up with “birdbrain.” The hens could be standing about a foot away from an open door, but they’d still try to run around the side of the building, attempting to find another way inside. After nearly 45 minutes of chasing them out of the woods and herding them to the building, four of us were finally able to get the hens back inside for the night.

     Our eggs are labeled “pasture-raised,” but any laid from that flock in the following days easily met the definition of “free-range!”

 

 

3 Comments »
Judith Gail Beatty said,
3/28/2017 @ 8:36 am
Great story and pictures, too. This reminded me chickens I raised in Wyoming - my border collie herded them to the house at night. She had more patience than I did.
Brian Lau said,
3/28/2017 @ 10:23 am
If chickens can be happy, these hens did enjoy their day. I wish we could be free range also, but that would add a new wrinkle to egg gathering. I bet the surrounding predators would also approve!
Mary Auten said,
4/14/2017 @ 11:00 am
Really enjoyed the story and I'm going to try the deviled egg recipe. I have never thought to put butter in them.<br /> Thank you so much for including me in your e-mail list.
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