Raising Free Range Chickens or Free Range Chicken farming- A complete beginners guide:
Raising Free Range chickens is a high profitable business all over the world. For starting up a free-range chicken business, you should have complete knowledge about free range chickens and complete management to run a successful poultry farm. Free range chicken has gained popularity for its less mortality rate. Farmers raise these free-range chickens for self-consumption, these chickens are easy to raise, and chicken is very nutritious.
Free range chicken and the backyard chicken production are a profitable business, but you do a complete study before you venture into the business. First, you should decide the size of your project that is number of chickens you want to grow in a cycle and location of poultry farm and your target market.
Raising Free Range Chickens – Free-Range Chicken Breeds
There are many breeds of free-range chicken available in the market. Choose the right breed depending on your need. You can raise the free-range chicken for selling meat, selling eggs or for selling both meat and eggs.
Raising Free Range Chickens – Layer Type
In Layer type chicken there are many breeds that lay eggs once a day or 300 eggs a year.
Raising Free Range Chickens – Breeds that lay eggs
- Plymouth Rock: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 230-300 eggs per year.
- New Hampshire Red: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 200-280 eggs per year.
- Rhode Island Red: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 240-260 eggs per year.
- Rhode Island white: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 240-250 eggs per year.
- Delawares: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 200-270 eggs per year.
- Australorp: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 350-360 eggs per year.
- Dominant CZ: This breed of free range layer chicken lays 300 eggs per year.
Breeds of chicken for meat in Raising Free Range Chickens
Meat type free range chicken also lay eggs. Below is some list of free range chicken grown for meat.
- Jersey Gaint.
- Cornish cross.
- Hubbard Chicken.
These breed free change chickens take 45 days to grow. Depending on the genetics some breeds also take more than 50 to 100 days to grow. These breeds of free range chicken are fed with commercial feed, chicken food like vegetables, green grasses, weeds grit etc.
Land and Housing Requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
The main housing difference free range and broiler chicken are broilers raised indoors, they will be confined to the broiler house, but free-range chickens will spend most of the day outside. The Housing and land size depends on the size of your poultry project. Land you select,for growing free range chicken should be well drained with good resource and good air. Housing should have a proper ventilation, for a free air movement in the chicken house. Even should have good light setup, lighting stimulated hens to lay eggs. If you are growing free range chicken for egg production, install adequate lighting in houses.
Cage or Coop for brooding for Raising Free Range Chickens
A cage or coop is a small chicken house constructed with wood with fencing. A coop or café should minimum 1 foot per head is required so that chicken can stay inside the coop or cage and roam freely in hot or cool climate.
- Cage or cage should be 40-50 chicks per square meter for 10 days old chickens.
- When the chicken is 20 days old the dimension of the cage should increase 2 square meters for 40-50 chickens.
Bedding for Raising Free Range Chickens
Cage or coop of free range chicken should cover with bedding or litter. Bedding prevent the chicken manure formation at brooding stage. This bedding should be cleaned and changed twice a week for chicks. Bedding or litter should also be disinfected before loading the chickens. You should use some sanitary steps to keep the cage or coop clean. Use probiotic cleaners to the environment clean and hygienic.
Free range chicken and backyard chickens need a good amount of required space to grow and roam. Free range chicken should not be crowded, if they are crowded they may suffocate to death. Each chicken needs minimum 0.1 square meter floor space. Housing size depends on the number of chickens reared.
Housing can be:
- Chicken runs or hutches.
Some Bedding or litters for free range chicken cage or coops:
- Rice hull.
- Rice Straw.
- Wood Shavings.
- Cut new paper can also be used.
Lighting Requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
Lighting in the free-range chicken stimulates hens to lay eggs. So, install the proper lighting system.
Lighting requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
- 50 watts per 50-60 heads and 30 chicks – 25 watts.
And the lighting be should move up and down as per temperature in the brooding area.
Chicken makes the sign by huddling under bulb indicating that they need more need, you need to lower the bulb down till they get separated.
Water Requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
May models of water containers for chickens are available in the markets. You can purchase as per requirements. Water container you use must be.
- Made free from chemicals and toxins.
- Water and the water containers should always fresh and clean.
- Containers should be free from spilling.
- Container height should easily accessible to the chickens.
- Place containers in shade, water stayed in sunlight is not good for chicken health.
Feeding Requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
Feeder you use for free range chicken should be made of bamboo, large PVC separated in two, galvanized feeder, trough feeder, open containers, feed dispenser.
- Both the Layer and meat, chicken need chick starter feed. The chicken starter feed is rich in protein formulated with good nutrition.
- Both the medicated and non-medicated chick starter feed is available.
- Medicated feeds are good for growing chicken before free ranging to limit the chance of the flock from coccidiosis. This can be avoided if you take proper sanitation to your flock’s environment.
Medicated feeds + proper sanitation gives healthy chickens.
Bad bacteria’s effect of chicken can be reduced cleaning areas regularly.
Starter feed for Raising Free Range Chickens
This is feeding given before the arrival of the chickens to familiarize what to eat and what not. One day old chicken suffers stress from shipping, so provide them with multivitamins or electrolytes with water to restore their strength.
Feed for Layer type for Raising Free Range Chickens
- Chick Starter = 0-6 weeks.
- Pullet grower = 6 -20 weeks.
- Chicken Layers = 20 weeks on.
Feed for Meat type for Raising Free Range Chickens
- Chick starter= 0-6 weeks.
- Chick grower= 6 weeks-slaughter.
- Finisher: optional.
Free Range Chicken Breeds
Buy one day old chicken (DOC-Day Old Chicken) from the suppliers, free range chicken suppliers or from agricultural and poultry suppliers. Make a complete verification of product suppliers to get a better product.
Best Qualities of Free range chick
- Not cross beak.
- Should have a good eyesight.
Best Characteristics of free-range chickens
- Predator wariness.
- Should have a plumage color.
- Should have ability to hunt food themselves.
- Should be adaptable to all the environments and weather.
- Should be flexible.
Shipping in Raising Free Range Chickens
Shipping the free-range chicken should follow some arrangements:
- Use hard cardboard that has small holes, to make them breath properly even during transport.
- You should be very careful, while transporting them to one place to another.
- You should use hard plastic cages or any available alike to protect them from being crushed.
- Using regular boxes for transporting is not recommended.
Site or Area requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
Site you select should be:
- A plane area.
- The area should be covered with trees for shade to chickens.
- Land with covered with green grass can be an added advantage.
- Land or site should have water facilities.
Ranging Area Requirements for Raising Free Range Chickens
- Each bird should have 1 square meter.
- Ranging area should be covered with net or bamboo or any fencing material to protect chicken from predators.
- The area should be cleaned so that it doesn’t have any harmful chemicals.
- A chicken house should protect them completely from sun and rain.
Feeding Procedure for Raising Free Range Chickens
Feeding at the Brooding stage for both layer and meat type for Raising Free Range Chickens
- (0 to 20 days) 3 feet long, 1.5 inches height, 2 inches wide feeder=20 chicks Double the feeders if you have 40 chicks.
- Feeder must be filled with feed up to 1 inch to prevent waste.
Feed at the ranging stage for free range chickens
- Meat Type free range chicken: (20 days to butcher 50/60 days) any feeder or bucket can hold 5-7 kilograms of feed = 20 chickens.
- Layer Type free range chicken: 1 feed them 3 kilograms=20 heads of commercial are fed 2 times a day mixed with vegetable, corn or any alternative food.
Alternative feed for Raising Free Range Chickens
- Free range chickens eat vegetables and leaves like ipil-ipil, beans, cabbage, raw potato peel, dried beans.
- Add the fruits like bananas, papaya, guava, tomato, mango, avocado, citrus fruit to the feed for free range chickens.
- Add some chicken food like burdock, corm, azzola, dandelion, grass clippings, sunflowers.
- Also add rotten or moldy food, vegetable scrap to feed.
Medicine Used In Raising Free Range Chickens
Free range chicken should be medicated with oriental herbs or herbal medicines or synthetic antibiotic for preventing diseases.
Some of antibiotics are:
- Moringa oilfera, given for yield performance.
- Chili use as an antibacterial medicine for free range chickens.
- Oregano is also an antibiotic medicine for respiratory problems in chickens.
- Give them natural antibiotic like ginger, garlic.
- Guava leaves are natural antibiotic medicine for increasing weight in free range chickens.
- Ipil-Ipil leaves are antibiotics for deworming and anti-parasite.
- Lemon grass is a natural antibiotic medicine for detoxification given once in a week.
The above listed are natural and herbal medicines, but there is no guarantee to prevent from disease. You should consult local poultry technicians or veterinary doctors in case any health problems in chickens.
Never give any medicine to chicken without consulting the doctors.
Vaccination In Rasing Free Range Chickens
- Follow the vaccination chart and contact the local veterinary doctor for vaccination details.
Tip for Successful Free-Range Chicken Business
Should maintain the records on cost per bird (D.O.C), Expenses from the first day, Mortality rate, etc. Note all the necessary steps taken in raising the free-range chicken:
- Any insect or parasite beneath the litter?
- When does the chicken started pecking or fighting and why?
- Have you sensed ammonia scent?
- What happens if the bedding is soggy?
- Have you notices why some shake their head?
Nests preparation for layers type in Raising Free Range Chickens
For layer type free range chickens, it is important to prepare a confrontable zone to lay eggs. For this you can use plywood, coconut leaves shaped into the nest box. Cover the nest slightly with any material except plastics.
Management and Labor for Raising Free Range Chickens
The number workers required for your farm depend upon the size of your free-range chicken business. If you are running a small-scale business like 100 birds/cycle, 2 or 3 persons are enough to take care of the chickens. If you are planning a run a farm of more 1000 birds/ cycles you need minimum 10 members to manage the free-range chickens. The labor should have complete knowledge of rearing techniques of free-range chickens.
The Capital required for Raising Free Range Chickens
The investment depends upon the scale of the project. You can get capital from bank loans or other financial sources. Free range chickens are very profitable.
Marketing the Free-Range Chickens
There is a good market for free range chicken all over the world. As the people are focusing on the organic and healthy food. Free-range chicken is very nutritious, tasty and healthy, so they have good demand for both the meat and eggs. The price of free range chicken is a bit higher than the broiler.
You can supply these free-range chicken meat and eggs to households, butcher, school, restaurants, companies, supermarkets, events, etc. Free range chicken are also as live birds, or you can slaughter and freeze them and sell them as dresses chicken. There is a good export market for free range chickens.