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Effects of free-ranging vs. confinement

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Can confinement make chickens aggressive?

 

Inversely, can free-ranging make chickens less aggressive?

 

Picture this scenario, let's say you have a flock of RIR's, if you let them free-range would they be less aggressive vs. cooping them up? This is an otherwise "bossy" breed, I'm wondering if free-ranging makes chickens somewhat happier and more easy-going compared to being cooped up.

 

Examples from personal experiences are very welcome.

 

Thanks.

post #2 of 12

Overcrowding can make them more aggressive.  So if your coop/run doesn't offer adequate space then they could likely develop aggressive behaviors that by default, free range chickens may not develop.  That being said, an adequate and humane living space that is confined by barriers likely wouldn't be associated with aggressive tendencies that the same chickens that were free ranging wouldn't display otherwise - so it really depends on what answer you're looking for from your query.

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On vaccinating v/s Marek's Disease - ( here & here )
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post #3 of 12
Chickens are curious, active creatures. So yes if too confined and not allowed to move, root, play, chickens can become aggressive. This is why chickens are sometimes debeaked, commercial farms especially with caged chickens run into this.
Now if you are speaking of chickens confined within a run, you would probably see much less aggressive behaviors. Especially if plenty of toys are provided to keep the birds busy and entertained.
I free range and keep Barr Rock and Easter Eggers. My Barr Rock are somewhat aggressive. Nothing serious, but they hold high rank in the pecking order fiercely.
post #4 of 12

Ours are kept in a coop with 2 runs and their runs have a straw bale to jump on and scratch, 2 dust bath areas, crates to climb on and run around if they want to get away from each other, and an elevated shelf they roost on.  They run around in the runs quite a bit and seem happy, although they do have different personalities.

 

Ours have never free ranged because of hawks, neighborhood cats and dogs.


Edited by limited25 - 5/17/16 at 2:04pm
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Ok let me give you my situation so it's clearer. My coop can house 10 (in fact I have 10 chickens). I let them free range everyday for 6 hours. I have 6 10 month old dominiques including one rooster, one 10 month old dark brahma bantam roo, and 3 two and a half month old australorp cockerels.
post #6 of 12

That's a whole lotta roo.

post #7 of 12

Too many cockerels/roosters can lead to some very stressed out hens. Also, if there aren't enough females to go around, those boys can and will get very frustrated. Frustration and hormones leads to cockerels and roosters constantly fighting. Either add a lot more hens, or get rid of all but one male. It's not a confinement v. free range issue. You have a male to female ratio that is seriously out of balance.


Edited by junebuggena - 5/17/16 at 2:12pm
post #8 of 12

You need fewer roosters.  10 chickens in a 10 chicken capacity house probably wont work if half of them are cockerels.  They'll wear out the hens via mating - I've seen people who have had hens killed by a single rooster when they didn't have enough hens to go around, basically from the wounds on the hens backs being constantly opened and worsened.  They had a 1/3 ration roo/hen - you're almost in a 1/1 ratio.  I'd pick out your favorite and then either start finding homes for the others or preparing a chicken heavy menu over the next week or two...

On vaccinating v/s Marek's Disease - ( here & here )
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On vaccinating v/s Marek's Disease - ( here & here )
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post #9 of 12

How big is your coop, feet by feet? Did you build it yourself, or is it a prefab? The prefab ones are often advertised to hold more chickens than is healthy. You do have  way too many roosters for your flock. A few years ago, when I had a flock of 50% roosters to 50% hens, the hens were terribly harassed by the roosters - chased constantly, ganged up on, unable to eat, drink or dust bath because of it. 

Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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Chickens off and on for 25+ years and still learning.

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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
Oh of course I'm aware that I have too many roosters, I'm in the process of of rehoming all except one. I don't know how big it is foot by foot but it's a unique coop. I made a coop out of an ice-fishing shanty and added and elevated run with chicken wire and windows. It's built pretty shabby but its predator proof and big enough for 10.
Edited by blueclip - 5/17/16 at 3:19pm
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