Flock Lifestyle Terminology


Getting to know the correct terminology will better help you raise your backyard flock!

It is said that to be free range a domesticated bird is to have a life of limited confinement with few restrictions. Keeping a flock free range has no pens, can roam the owners pasture or yard freely during the day and is locked up in a barn, a chicken coop, or a building at night to prevent a nighttime predator attack. 

Pasture raised poultry is a sustainable agriculture technique that calls for raising of laying chickens, meat chickens such as broilers, and/or turkeys on pasture, as opposed to indoor confinement. A "pasture raised" claim on meat, poultry, dairy, or egg labels means that the animals were raised for at least some portion of their lives on pasture or with access to pasture. Some might ask is free range same as pasture raised? Cage-Free, free-range, pasture-raised -- they all indicate how much space the hens get... cage-free is regulated by the USDA, but it only means that the hens don't live in cages. The term does not specify or indicate how much space they have, or whether or not they see the outdoors.

A building enclosed by wire with access to the yard is called yarding. The wire fencing runs from the birds housing also known as a "chicken run", off an access door.The run gives the birds an outdoor exercise area and a place for the owners to offer treats such as lawn clippings, garden waste, and other poultry treats such as meal worms, ect. The chicken run can be large enough to create a free-range environment, if your flocks numbers are low enough to keep the grass and other greens growing and not bare and muddled. 

A bird that has no access to an outdoor run for exercise but that can move freely within their coop is a confined bird. If your living in the city, confinement may be required, but the flock can have a humane and healthy lifestyle, providing grass clippings, greens, treats, and an area to dust bathe would be ample. Confinement birds raised on your farm do not have to be debeaked and kept in a small cage with no room to move around. this term does not imply total confinement or constant cage dwelling. Hundreds of thousands of layers that are kept for commercial egg production are kept is total confinement. 

Chickens living in cages are usually debeaked, and troughs of feed and water ar eplaced in fron of them so they have access to it without the need to move around freely. In most commercial age situations, birds are kept in a small space. No nesting boxes are provided and their eggs roll out under the cage. Many times hens do not have access to the outside their cages and roosters are not involved in the natural mating process. 

Choosing how to raise your birds is entirely up to you, although we prefer "Yarding" and provide them with some sort of protection from predators and neighboring animals such as dogs and cats that could cause harm to your flock. 

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