So I have raised chickens in the city before, but I just got my first batch of chicks since moving to the country. I cannot afford a bunch of fencing, nor do I see the point in keeping chickens in a run all day. If I wanted eggs from confined hens, I could just go to a store. Of course, we have a secure coop for them to roost at night, and adequate run space for them if there's a local outbreak or terrible weather. I will provide feed, but I want my birds to live off the land for the most part. Yet coyotes pass through here frequently, even during the day. Bald eagles are around too. I even worry about our cat. She's a pretty good hunter. Sadly I cannot have a rooster per on-site landlady's request. So I did my research, and I figured I wanted alert, lightweight, flighty breeds of non-white plumage that I thought would have the best chance of free ranging successfully, and I also wanted a good feed to egg ratio. I went with 4 brown Leghorn, 2 Ancona, 1 blue Hamburg, and 1 EE. Supposedly they are all females (I hope). Our property is five acres, mostly wooded, with a lot of brush, and some clearing. There are plenty of places for cover. I can't afford to keep a large flock (8 is the max for now), so if I get any losses, I was thinking of trying to find a couple Egyptian Fayoumis hens or some kind of game breed, something that will make a racket whenever predators are near, like a substitute rooster.
Any tips from experienced free-rangers? Does my scenario seem sustainable? I don't mind replenishing birds occasionally, but I don't have the time or money to be raising chicks constantly. How do you find their eggs, especially with the "wilder" type breeds? Do y'all think I could possibly train a dog to perform such a task? We're getting a dog pretty soon, probably before we get any eggs, some type of herding breed, maybe. It will be a rescue. I'm pretty decent at training rescue dogs, though I haven't done any search stuff before.
Edited by UrbanEnthusiast - 3/14/16 at 1:39am