Chickens are the main source of some dinner table essentials such as eggs and meat. To meet the large demand of products, most chicken farms breed their chickens indoors in wire cages or similar conditions to properly manage the layers or broilers.
Another animal husbandry method that’s suitable for farms with large areas or even for backyard production is called free range chicken production.
Through this method, chickens are raised in an outdoor setting where the animals can roam freely.
CPV Natural Farm, located in Tangub City, Misamis Occidental practices this method and according to its proprietor, Bhal Abad Cabrera, it has many benefits such as practicality and inclination to natural farming practices.
“Going back to the basics by raising chickens in free range conditions can save you a lot of money because you don’t have to spend any on feeds or constructing cages or poultry houses like commercial breeders do,” Cabrera said during a webinar posted on social media by Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) Northern Mindanao.
Moreover, free range chicken production doesn’t require a large capital for one to start, but it can earn a significant amount of profit.
Breeds best for free range
CPV Natural Farm is a certified learning site accredited by the ATI in Region X. It produces chickens that’s mainly sold for meat. One of the breeds grown on the farm is the red hubbard which, Cabrera explained, is suitable for meat production and the free range method.
Red Hubbards can grow around 1.5 to 1.8 kilograms in weight when fed with commercial feeds for 56 to 60 days. However, in free range conditions, this breed requires minimal supervision and can forage from available natural sources.
In comparison with the Philippine native chicken, red Hubbards are said to be better in terms of growth rate and meat yield.
Another breed that’s raised on the farm is the Dekalb brown and it has another function than meat production.
“This particular breed has two purposes: it can be sold for meat and it can also serve as a layer to produce eggs,” Cabrera said.
Dekalb chickens, brown or white, can lay quality medium table-sized eggs. Acquiring a number of this breed can result in a higher egg count, providing more than what’s needed for personal consumption.
As Cabrera said, caring for free range chickens does not require a large chicken coop to house the chickens. However, the birds need to be given shelter in case of extreme weather conditions.
The measurement of the coop would depend on the amount of space available on a farm or backyard. But bamboos can be used to create the frame of the house so the structure would be sturdy but also affordable.
For the flooring, Cabrera recommends applying a layer of sawdust so that the surface can be easily cleaned should the chickens make a mess. Plus, after some time, the sawdust that contains chicken droppings can be used as a mulch for plants and crops.
“You can also use other raw materials that are accessible to you. There are other options such as rice hull but make sure that the material you used is sustainable,” Cabrera said.
CPV Natural Farm uses sawdust because there are some furniture makers located near the farm.
These are only some of the things that aspiring free range chicken breeders should know. Cabrera offered more information on the practice during a webinar from ATI Northern Mindanao on Facebook.
For the next part of the article, Cabrera discusses the proper feed component to enhance growth.