Learning Centre

Expert tips and tricks for backyard chicken keeping

Do chickens need to free-range?


Backyard chickens don’t need to free range to be happy, healthy, and productive. Ideally, most of us would like to free-range our flock: that is, allow them to range freely on our land. But our individual situations mean it’s not always possible. Plus, free-ranging can open your chooks up to predators. Let’s face it, chickens are not high up in the foodchain!

Chickens do not need grass, but it is highly recommended that you provide it in some form. Grass is rich in micro-nutrients and offers a lot of variety to your chicken’s diet. Chickens are omnivores, which means that they have similar nutritional requirements to humans. They will consume lots of bugs, grubs, and insects in the garden.

Top tips for when you can’t free-range your flock:

  1. Supplement with Garden & Grubs Blend. A natural blend of greens, grubs, whole and cracked grains. Packed with protein, calcium, and phosphorous to support hen health and egg production. Garden and grubs blend is a tasty solution for when your chickens are unable to forage naturally. 
  2. Cover the run with sand, wood shavings or hemp. Leaving it bare will cause a muddy pit (bacteria) when rain comes.
  3. If you can, block an area off within your run, where you can grow forage plants or grass seed. Only allow your chooks limited access. Just until they have pecked the tops – not the seeds. Then block them off again until this reshoots.
  4. Buy a chicken tractor on wheels. This way you can move it to fresh grass weekly.
  5. Pile some large rocks in their run where bugs can hide. 
  6. Your chickens should have access to both sun and shade in their run, so they can choose if they want to bask in the sun or take a nap in the shade.
  7. Pile some shavings or straw for your chooks to play in.
  8. Try our Forage Seed Kit to provide a fun smorgasbord of green nutrition.
  9. Chickens that are cooped up can sometimes start picking on each other if they don’t have enough to do. Check out our treats and toys section for enrichement ideas.
  10. Make sure that chickens have an area to dust bathe, you can learn how to do this here.

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