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First time Free ranger Needs Advice

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Hi All! 

 

We've had chickens before but have been on a break for the last 5 years. They've almost always been kept in a coop with no issues, but I'd like to give our next flock the run of the property.  Our yard is about 200' by 100' with cow pasture on two sides and a fairly busy road on one side.  I'm hoping you can give me advice on whether or not we need fencing all around? and if so, how high and sturdy it needs to be?  The chickens will be back in the coop for night time and the yard is mostly treed; stray dogs are not an issue. We have a few neighbours who don't fence their chickens and they don't go near the road or out in the cow pasture and one who just uses 3' high snow fence but that seems a little risky to me.  thanks for your help!

post #2 of 4
Your chickens will not stray from your yard. Mine have access to a very large area and we have a gravel road that is only used by our 4 neighbors. My birds mostly stick to my yard and at most hunt through the tree line. The only real concern is predators. I realize you do not consider stray dogs an issue but I had a dog travel 3 miles to kill my chickens twice, so beware of that. Also coyotes, hawks, and other predators will hunt during the day hours, especially if hungry.
Free ranging, you will have losses. I personally have only lost two, both during the day. But others have lost entire flocks.
I will always free range, I enjoy the fact that they cut down on my insect population considerably. I also like the nice dark egg yolk and decreased feed cost (and I think they look pretty). To me these things are well worth the risk, and I think my chickens agree big_smile.png
One thing that helps reduce my risk is I keep a couple good dogs and a rooster. The rooster cannot really protect much, but he will try while the hens run to safety, he also keeps them together and there is safety in numbers. My dogs completely ignore my chickens (not all will) and keep the coyotes and other predators at bay.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your reply. I will try letting them free range and see how they do. 

 

You might get a chuckle out of this, the reason I say dogs aren't an issue is because we had a cat lady from the city move in a few houses down, about 15 years ago.  She calls animal control every time she hears a dog because it 'upsets' her cats, and also has baited live traps around her house to catch anything in the neighbourhood that might be looking for a meal and then sends them to the SPCA.  She's the sort that thinks letting animals outside is cruelty and cow smell should be outlawed; it's hilarious to listen to her. Very few people around here bother having dogs any more, and the raccoon/stray cat/fox population is down as well.  I will keep it in mind though, maybe put in some thorny bushes around the edge of the property as a deterrent.

post #4 of 4
Lol sounds like she is at least as good as a dog...I have little patience for those people, but at least you found a bright side.
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