This is a slightly strange question but one that I could definitely use some information on.
We were given a flock of 12 hens and 1 rooster this month when our neighbors moved to Colorado. We have a little over 4 acres and live about 75 yards down the street from the neighbor we got the chickens from. They lived on 2.5 acres and their pen was on the far side of the property away from our house. They let the chickens free range and I would occasionally see them at the house directly across the street from the previous owners of the chickens but never down on my end of the road.
I say all this because I am wondering if there is any chance or worry that the chickens would "return home" to their previous coop/run if I let them out to free range?
I have an adequate run and coop for the size flock I have. They have access to all the feed and water they want in the run and the hens are already laying in the boxes I built in my coop. I just want them to be able to free range some during the day and don't want to worry about them going to the wrong house.
On the other hand, I am considering not letting them range like that at all and just using a larger chicken tractor that my son can move with my garden tractor and putting them in the coop at night. This is because we have lost chickens in the past to coyotes and there is now a hawk that lives somewhere in close proximity to my property. Also, I'm pretty sure that my dogs would eat the chickens if one chose to hop the fence and get into the main yard......
My original thought was easy free range but now I'm thinking half in the tractor other half in run and swap them out every day or so and doing it that way. Ideas? Thoughts? Am I over complicating this chicken thing?