Making the decision to free roam your chickens has benefits for you and your flock, but there are also risks to consider.
Wondering how big a chore it would be to have a few chickens? Maybe you already have a backyard flock and find them a bit overwhelming to care for. Truth is, I think we’re all a little guilty of fussing over our birds more than we need to. We worry about predators and try to keep them safe by locking them up in a coop, then, watch them unhappily pace their walls of confinement.
Chickens that are allowed to free roam will be busy looking for bugs and scratching around in the dirt. They will require much less upkeep, lower your feed bill, and have much cleaner coop. In my opinion, coops are for laying eggs and a night time safe haven. I lock up my flock at night and do the best I can to protect them from predators. At dawn, I let them out and hope for the best. That may be a little risky, but lets face it, so is driving in your car.
If you don’t have the free roaming option, then a coop is going to require some work on your part. Even just a couple hens are dirty, and after just a few days the coop will need to be cleaned. Coops can be hot in the summer and freezing cold in winter. Cleaning the coop, feeding, watering, and picking eggs probably isn’t going to make your list of favorite things to do in inclement weather.
Chickens are actually pretty smart, they managed to find food, shelter, and are capable of hiding from danger. They huddle together to stay warm in the winter, and are smart enough to dig holes in the dirt to stay cool during the summer months.
I provide a safe place for my flock at night, and enjoy watching my chickens enjoy their freedom during the day.