A good friend, who was raised here in the rural area in which I now live and has spent all of her 63 years here (and who has kept chickens when she was younger) asked me why I am stressing about how big to make a run or enclosure for my chickens... She's asking me why I don't just open up the coop early in the morning, let them free range over the 4 acres I am about to move into, and let them come back to the coop at dusk - or when I call them - for the night. She says she "always free ranged hers totally, and never lost a single chicken".
I know there are plenty of hawks in Sussex County, NJ. She knows a lot, being a lifelong country gal... but she can't be right about this, can she? She claims that the thick treeline being along one side of the chicken coop and the barn being on the other side (not fully attached, though, just very near to) will "provide cover" for the chickens and stop hawks from winging in/down to snatch one... Is that statement true? And what about other predators? Black bears. Red foxes. Coyotes. Coywolves. Snakes. Probably weasels. Who knows what else? Also, since the 4 acres is mostly pastures (and a pond down the hill the house sits up on and across the private "road" (if you can call a 40-inch-wide dirt road "a road", lol, but there is one neighbor past us and up the hill further who uses that road as his only access in/out of his own property) - what would stop hawks from snatching the chickens (or ducks) anywhere other than the under-trees area just in front of their coop?
Yet, my friend IS generally pretty darn knowledgeable about livestock, in general... Is this seemingly-casual attitude towards chickens normal amongst farmers? Am I worrying overly much, needlessly? Being a city girl my whole 55 years, I can't tell if I'm just not understanding it??
e insane for naming my new rooster
I was considering setting, say. 6- or 7-ft tall 2x4s into cement or concrete into the ground, a few feet apart and using chicken wire (or a combo of chicken wire & hardware cloth) as walls, with a skirt around the bottom to prevent digging predators from entering, and a bird netting or plastic netting ceiling attached at the top. You know, like a 15-ft x 30-ft enclosure, one that either enclosed the coop within it and/or maybe led from the coop. My friend just stared at me and laughted at me, telling me that I was gonna waste my time and money building Fort Knox and chickens don't need such a ridiculously locked space. She has been ribbing me for a week, now, since... telling me I don't need to build "Fort ChicKnox".
So... am I being silly? Is it true that one just has to consider a lost chicken here or there part of having chickens? She thinks I'm quite insane for giving my new rooster a name. She says "everyone" just calls their layers "this chicken" or "that chicken" or "the broody one", etc.