Best Chicken Breeds For Free-Ranging
by Meghan H
Published January 18, 2021
Chickens as a species are natural-born foragers with an instinct to constantly search for bugs, grass, and other tasty morsels in their surroundings. Regardless of breed, chickens will always be happy to explore and scratch a patch of green grass, freshly dug dirt, or a recently turned log. Free-ranging is your chickens is a great option when done safely. Before you get started, read some Free-Ranging Basics and some of the Benefits of Free-Ranging Your Chickens here.
Aside from the natural instinct of all chickens, there are some breeds that are better natural foragers that will thrive in a free-range environment. Thriving in a free-range environment means these breeds will forage for much of their feed needs, be better at predator evasion, and have superior jumping/flight ability. These breeds are also usually more “flighty” and shy than others. We have our top free-range breeds listed below!
Best Chicken Breeds for Free-Ranging:
- Leghorns: The white egg-laying powerhouse, the Leghorn will thrive in a free-range environment but can also tolerate confinement. Most commercial egg operations are housed with White Leghorns. Meyer Hatchery carries the Leghorn in three color varieties: White Leghorn, Light Brown Leghorn, and Exchequer Leghorn.
- Ancona: Revered for their evasion of birds of prey, the Ancona has a quick and alert personality and is best suited to free range. They also lay white eggs, 4-6 per week!
- Golden Buff: These chickens are a backyard favorite for their high output of large, brown eggs and friendly personalities, but they are also excellent foragers.
- Rhode Island Reds: A dual-purpose breed and another brown egg-laying breed, laying 4-6 eggs per week, Rhode Island Red Chickens are a great option that can also forage well.
- Buckeye: Another dual-purpose option laying 3-5 brown eggs a week. These chickens originated right here in Ohio and unlike some of the others on this list, they are generally curious, calm, and friendly.
- Barred Plymouth Rock: A long-time favorite for chicken owners and another dual-purpose option for free-ranging is the Barred Plymouth Rock chicken. You can expect them to be generally friendly and lay 4-6 eggs per week.
- Egyptian Fayoumis: (Pictured above) If you want a truly unique addition to your free-range flock, the Egyptian Fayoumis is the perfect choice for hardiness, both in health and all types of weather.
Consider adding some of these top foraging breeds to your backyard flock for some interesting color patterns and for their self-sufficient capabilities. Let us know in the comments below what your best foraging breed is in your flock.
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