So just how far do chickens travel in a day? Much further than most people realize. In just three hours, the mother hen has taken her chicks over 600 feet through woods, pasture, and gardens. Over the course of a day she will take them from half a mile to a mile. This would be the equivalent of a person walking three to six miles.
I wonder what the psychological effects are on chickens which have very little room to move. I look at chickens being raised in 10 by 12 foot chicken tractors and can’t help but imagine they must be going mad. I’ve yet to see any of my chickens limit their daily movements to such a small space. Some of them travel so far I’m surprised they don’t get lost.
What I’ve observed with my chickens is that they don’t like to stay in one place very long. Even when they are in the midst of plenty to eat, they won’t stay more than five or ten minutes eating before moving on. It may an instinctual behavior to keep from being found by prey. Wild chickens which stay in one place too long may have a greater chance of being eaten than those which keep on the move. And if chickens have this instinctual need to keep moving, what happens to their psyche when they can’t?