Raising free-range food comes with many perks. Not only does it tend to be much healthier, but free-range farming tends to be much more humane than other practices.
Regardless of the reasons you want to raise free-range food, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. First, this route can be very time-consuming and requires a lot of dedication. Below you’ll discover more about the importance of free-range food and ways you can achieve it on your homestead.
3 Ways to Get Free-Range Food on Your Homestead
Use a Mobile Range Coop
Free-range poultry comes with plenty of benefits, but there are some downsides. These are because it can be tricky to track them, and you usually have to spend time hunting for their eggs.
To solve this issue, you should invest in a mobile range coop. This allows poultry to roam the land, but they’re secured into one area. Because it’s mobile, you can move it to different locations so the flock can explore new sections.
This device is also sustainable and can be reused. Some can also be equipped with solar panels, feed bins, and roll-up curtains.
Thanks to these features, it will make it much easier for you to track your flocks. It will also save you a significant amount of money in the end so you can focus more on raising quality food.
Fence the Area
Fencing your homestead is another option to try. In most cases, steel hex web fencing is ideal because it’s a durable choice. It also does well at keeping the animals (especially poultry) inside and stops common predators from sneaking in. For larger animals, you might consider an electric or cross fence to keep them in.
The main problem with this though is that it can be a little expensive, especially if you want the entire land enclosed. Besides this, because it’s completely open, you might have some trouble fully watching the animals, especially poultry. You’ll also need to periodically inspect the fencing to ensure that nothing is worn down or broken.
Use Preventative Predator Measures
You’ll have to be aware of potential predators with your free-range animals, especially poultry. But, while you’ll have to accept that a hawk or fox could potentially take a few, there are some ways you can prevent excessive issues.
One is by securing steel mesh fencing around their sleeping areas. This is especially important because these predators tend to strike a lot at night. They can’t easily break into or dig around mesh fencing, so your creatures will be safe. Make sure the enclosure also has a roof to prevent hawks and other birds of prey from swooping down into it. You could also install sensor lighting. This will go off when motion is detected and can scare off predators.
Besides this, make sure to keep spaces clean. If there’s a specific area the animals like to be in, ensure there aren’t food scraps lying around or eggs laid nearby if you’re raising poultry. These can attract pests, like rats, that might not prey on the animals themselves but can spread diseases and take eggs.
Tips For High-Quality Free-Range Food
Even if you achieve your goal of completely free-range food on your homestead, if it doesn’t taste good, all that hard work will have almost been for nothing. While this aspect will vary depending on a few things, there are some methods to consider that can result in delicious food.
While it might seem that free-range means organic, too, it’s completely different. Free range just means that the animals were able to move freely around the land. Organic means no harsh toxins (like pesticides and herbicides) are applied to the land.
Going organic can be a little pricey and time-consuming, but you’ll find it will result in higher-quality food. This is because their food is heavily regulated, so the meat and eggs will usually taste better.
Plant Trees, Tall Grasses, and Shrubs
Because the animals will be out all day, they must have places to rest or hide from weather elements and predators. Chickens also tend to lay more eggs if they feel they can secretly roost in. Due to this, ensure there are trees, tall grasses, and shrubs that they can use. You’ll find this will lead to safer and happier animals.
Do Consistent Checks
Even if you make a beautiful landscape for your poultry to live off of, that doesn’t stop potential diseases from spreading. Some common ones include fowl cholera, coliform infections, and avian influenza. So if you notice the birds acting lethargic, having poor feather quality, or misshapen eggs, you’ll want to get them checked out immediately.
These consistent checks can stop the spread of these diseases, which won’t only protect the flock but also prevent you from losing an important food and money source.
Raising free-range food on your homestead can take a lot of work, but the results are well worth it. By keeping these tips in mind, you can easily accomplish this goal.