My chickens are not really “free range.” They have a nice big run, about 360 square feet, as well as a coop big enough for twice their population, but I only let them roam outside for little excursions under my watchful eye. When I arrive at the outside door with a key in my hand, they gather in great excitement because they know something good is coming.
It’s interesting how they wander in tentative little clumps, pecking and scratching at the ground. Cooper usually has his head up, keeping guard and calling out in short little clucks if someone seems to be a little too independent and needs to come back and join the group. They sometimes pull up blades of grass and swallow them whole, but I haven’t observed much eating out in the yard. They do like to hop up into the compost pile and scratch around, so maybe that is where the bugs are. (Yuck!)
When I am tired of babysitting, I swing my shepherding stick to guide them all back through the door, and count heads. Cooper helps me and sounds the alarm when the last couple hens dodge me and run around the corner rather than filing politely back into the run. He gets mad at them and ruffles his neck feathers in warning, but I think the girls are a bit too much for him to control sometimes.