Yes, you can let chickens roam free in the yard as long as the yard is fenced so they cannot escape or predators can get to them.
If you let your chickens roam free in your yard rather than being kept in a coop all day, they’ll probably consume less chicken feed as they’ll be foraging around your yard throughout the day.
So in the long run, you’ll be spending less money on chicken feed but you’ll still have some very happy and healthy chickens.
If you eat the eggs that come from your chickens, then letting them roam free in the yard will result in tastier eggs.
This is because the chickens are consuming other nutrients that they cannot get from chicken feed from. Letting them roam free in your yard they can then eat grass, plants, and even insects.
You should try to let your chickens roam free as much as possible in your yard. It can be very boring and unhealthy for chickens to be cooped up all day in a run and that boredom can result in them fighting with each other.
Free-range chickens will be less likely to be overweight as they can run around all day and whilst a plump chicken may be cute, no one wants an obese chicken.
However, as we said, if you have predators surrounding your yard you’ll need to make sure that your fences are high enough to prevent the majority of them from coming in and disturbing the peace amongst your chickens.
It’s not just the average cat or dog that is a danger to your chickens, but also wilder animals like raccoons, coyotes, and even snakes who are looking for an easy meal.
Another negative of letting your chickens roam free in the yard is that they may wander off into your neighbor’s gardens.
Chickens can and do fly when they want to, so if you don’t want any complaints from neighbors nearby you may want to ensure any fencing in your yard is too tall for the chickens to fly over.
Try to make your fence at least 10 feet tall, or if you have chicken coops in your yard where your chickens rest a night, you’ll want to make the fence higher as chickens have been known to try and launch themselves off to gain a higher flight.
If you’re going to let your chickens roam free in the yard, you’ll have to be prepared to go egg hunting as they’ll probably lay their eggs in the most random places now.
The best way to prevent this is to keep your chickens in the coop for the first few weeks so they become accustomed to laying their eggs in the nest and then when they’re allowed to roam free in the garden, they’ll return to these nests to lay more of their eggs.
Do you have to let chickens out every day?
You should try to let your chickens out as much as possible, especially when the weather is fine. You will still need to have protective housing or covering for your chickens in case of adverse weather like heavy rain, hail, or snow as they do not fare well in these sorts of weathers.
When the weather is particularly cold or there is snow outside, then chickens will rarely venture out as they don’t like walking in the snow.
In these circumstances, you should make sure to insulate their chicken coop properly with blankets over the top, lots of straw inside, and maybe even adding carpet inside the coop to keep them cozy.
However, leaving your chickens roam free all day every day is not always an option for everyone, due to surrounding predators or the inability to check up on them every so often.
You should try to open up your chicken coop first thing in the morning and then put them back in around sunset, however, if your work schedule doesn’t allow you to be around then you could consider installing an automatic coop door that will open and close at these times.
If your yard isn’t safe for them to be out all day without supervision then you should try them out for a few hours a day when you get home from work or focus on leaving them to roam free all weekend whilst you are home so they can get some freedom.
It’s better to keep your chickens safer inside their coop than being exposed to predators without anyone to help if something goes wrong.
Will a chicken stay in my yard?
Chicken’s don't often run away from their homes on their own accord, they are quite curious so may wander off whilst exploring and get lost, but they do not intentionally plan to escape (that we know of).
Chicken’s like to come home to roost in the evenings and if they know they have a safe, warm home to go to every evening they will be less likely to run or fly off.
Chickens know that their coop has food and safety, however, when you move a new chicken into the coop they may be unaware of this and be more likely to run away as they’re unsure of their surroundings.
The best way to keep them in your yard is by having a very tall fence that they are unable to fly over and make sure you don’t put the chicken coop near the fence as they can launch themselves off the roof to gain more height to their flight.
As long as they have space to walk around and plenty of food given to them, chickens will be quite content staying in the same yard without wandering off.
If your chicken does wander off, then they can usually find their way back by listening out for other chickens in their group. Although, the best way to prevent them from escaping or getting lost is by ensuring they are safely enclosed by a fence.
Will free-range chickens ruin my lawn?
Yes, letting your chickens roam free in your yard back ruin your lawn as it is their instinct to peck and scratch at the floor. If you want to keep your lawn in better condition, consider splitting it in half and rotating the area that you keep your chickens every 6 months.
This will prevent the entirety of your lawn from getting sparse as it’ll give time for the other area to grow back when you alternate.
If you have vegetables growing and flower beds, then you may as well kiss goodbye to them now if you’re letting your chickens roam free. They’re pretty careless when they’re wandering around and will sit on your favorite flowers or eat your growing vegetables.
Will my chickens run away if I let them out?
If your yard or the area you keep your chickens is not enclosed, then you’ll have a higher chance of your chickens running away.
However, chickens will happily stay where they know there is food, safety, and warmth during the night but as a precaution, it’s always best to keep a tall fence around the area they roam to make sure they stay put.