We keep two flocks of chickens here. One group is totally free-range. They go where ever they want. Mostly they want to go in the woods. They seem to enjoy scratching around in the leaves and I’m happy to let them to do it, but they aren’t doing much good for the farm there. Of course once a year we thoroughly clean their coop, spread the litter over gardens, then till it in. That does the farm a great deal of good.
We keep the other flock inside poultry net fencing, which we move around depending on where we want the chickens to forage. We put them in gardens that are done for the year and they till the soil, eat the bugs and deposit fertilizer for next years gardens. This group is definitely earning its keep.
These chickens are good representatives of the symbiosis we try to create here. We give them feed and shelter, they give us eggs and garden work. They are an important part of the reason we don’t need to use any chemical inputs of this farm.