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Free Roaming Chickens - Page 2

post #11 of 55

My chickens are totally free range.  They get locked up at night and that's it.  Depending on the breed a 4 ft fence could be very easy to get over.  That's something you'll have to test out if you want them running around.  I occasionally lose a chicken to a fox but they lead a much happier life when they are able to run around and find the food that they want.   I've gone to farms to purchase chickens where the hens never even get to go outdoors.  They spend their whole lives in a shed with a concrete floor covered in sand or straw.  They probably wish a fox would come kill them.

Call Ducks, Black, Chocolate and Lavender Orpingtons, Bantam Cochins, Black Spanish Turkeys

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Call Ducks, Black, Chocolate and Lavender Orpingtons, Bantam Cochins, Black Spanish Turkeys

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post #12 of 55

I am wondering if I put my chickens in the coop at night and let them run free in my fenced back yard during the day.  The yard is fenced with chain link about 4 feet high and is rather large.  I understand about predators but if my neighbor does it shouldn't I be ok as well?
First of all, keep your cool, as you're doing now. Second we cannot possibly know if "everything will be alright." That is for you to determine. Asking for reassurance here is like asking the choir to preach to you.

You have to do two things, in all cases:

1. Determine if the "range" can sustain the birds' needs.
2. Determine the threat from predators.

Chickens can be pets, but they are also livestock. As such, we expect they will provide a return benefit. So they give you the best results when you control their activities.
So fencing them into paddocks (yards) is the better idea. The notion of "free ranging" is widely applied, but most people don't grasp it's full import.
We tend to either romanticize the concept as the above poster has, or we deem it some sort of low-cost feeding scheme. Each outlook has it's place, but neither is entirely appropriate.
When it comes to feeding chickens, it has been proven that a carefully arranged, hybrid feeding plan is best. This means one where you control their primary feed intake, with supplement from the range area. In other words, feed them what you know they need - first - and then let them forage up what ever else they can.

A 4 ft fence is adequate with paddock management, for containing chickens. If you clip their wings and keep any sort of perches away from the fence, you should be alright. They WILL go over the fence if they can get close enough, though, so keep the means to do so away from the perimeter. And keep their wings clipped if you want to keep them within the fence.....

But predators wont let fences stop them, and there are both ground and aerial avenues of access available to them. In suburban Utah, the predator threats are probably easy to determine.
The short list will include dogs, coyotes, weasels and their kin and a few other key terrestrial predators. All will have designs on your chickens.
Some can climb a chain link fence, others can dig under or jump it. And DO NOT under estimate the local "pet" dogs - in the urban landscape they are some of the worst offenders.
From the air, hawks, kestrels, falcons, eagles and owls.... well, these all love a fresh chicken dinner, too. So it behooves you to be aware of these and prepare defenses against them.

Here's the bottom line - chickens don't live forever and there are many dangers. Cars are only one of these and truth be told, they are possibly the lesser.
"The Chickens World Is A Savage Place," for sure.
All this drives to the fact that losses are inevitable. You can cut these losses, though, if you open your eyes and keep a view of THEIR life in mind.


Edited by Davaroo - 2/11/11 at 7:30am

Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by newchicken22 

I am going to let my chickens roam free during the day and if they get out hopefully they will come back for food and to roost at night.  One question though.  Sand or straw on my concrete floor for the coop?  I have heard pros and cons of both.  I live in Salt Lake where it can get down to 0-10 in the winter and 105 in the summer.  What is the best on Price? Ease of clean up? and smell?  and how deep should I make the layer?
Thanks


My coop is less than 50 feet from my neighbor's property line....so it has to be stink free as it violates zoning. I use about 8 inches of pine shavings over concrete. Every day I rake under the roosts and mix up the shavings. I clean the whole thing out once a month in the winter and every two weeks in the summer.  No smell!


Edited by TheSitcomGirls - 2/11/11 at 10:21am
post #14 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheSitcomGirls 
Quote:
Originally Posted by newchicken22 

I am going to let my chickens roam free during the day and if they get out hopefully they will come back for food and to roost at night.  One question though.  Sand or straw on my concrete floor for the coop?  I have heard pros and cons of both.  I live in Salt Lake where it can get down to 0-10 in the winter and 105 in the summer.  What is the best on Price? Ease of clean up? and smell?  and how deep should I make the layer?
Thanks


My coop is less than 50 feet from my neighbor's property line....so it has to be stink free as it violates zoning. I use about 8 inches of pine shavings over concrete. Every day I rake under the roosts and mix up the shavings. I clean the whole thing out once a month in the winter and every two weeks in the summer.  No smell!


You can also use locally available litter, like shredded leaves. Pine shavings are probably more absorbent.
In his book, "The Henyard," Geoffrey Sykes makes the case for littering them on a deep layer of straw. And Charles Weeks made much of using sand.

I've always kept fewer chickens as a practice, as opposed to dealing with the issues of one too many in a too small space. Needlees to say, I have never used a litter medium out of doors.
But from what I know of the practice, it is the depth of the litter, the degree of drainage and the amount of maintenance you put into it that matters most.

Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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Peace... David
"Poetry often comes in through the window of irrelevance"

 

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post #15 of 55

My chickens free range all day every day.  We have a 6 foot cedar fence that encloses the back yard, although at the side of the house there is only a four foot chain link fence.  They have never tried going over this, but it may be because it doesn't appear to go anywhere appealing.  If there were grass or something yummy looking on the other side they might try.  Unless you have a predator problem, I think it is ridiculous to only free range your birds when you are watching them.  I haven't got time for that and they wouldn't care for it either.  This is what works for me.  Only having a four foot fence all the way around, they might go jail break, but you could be ok.  I would recommend letting them get used to that being their space when they are little (prior to being big enough to free range safely without supervision) and they may be less likely to jump over as adults.  Mine certainly seem content with our small backyard.

Definition of addiction: you need more and more to get the same effect, and you continue to use in spite of painful consequences.
My drug of choice: chickens
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Definition of addiction: you need more and more to get the same effect, and you continue to use in spite of painful consequences.
My drug of choice: chickens
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post #16 of 55

Sand.  It's way easier to keep clean.  I live in a cold climate area and have had no issues with the sand.  I've used wood shavings and sand.  The sand is cleaner and easier.

Married since 1987, daughter born in 1990, son born in 1992, 1 medium sized white dog, 11 hens, 2 RIR's, 2 Red Stars, 2 Black Australorps, 2 Ameraucanas, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 large Bluegill, 2 small Large Mouth bass, 1 large Plecostomus.
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Married since 1987, daughter born in 1990, son born in 1992, 1 medium sized white dog, 11 hens, 2 RIR's, 2 Red Stars, 2 Black Australorps, 2 Ameraucanas, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 large Bluegill, 2 small Large Mouth bass, 1 large Plecostomus.
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post #17 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackBrookPoultry 

My chickens are totally free range.  They get locked up at night and that's it.  Depending on the breed a 4 ft fence could be very easy to get over.  That's something you'll have to test out if you want them running around.  I occasionally lose a chicken to a fox but they lead a much happier life when they are able to run around and find the food that they want.   I've gone to farms to purchase chickens where the hens never even get to go outdoors.  They spend their whole lives in a shed with a concrete floor covered in sand or straw.  They probably wish a fox would come kill them.


Well said! One of the main reasons my husband and I "went farmer" was because we couldn't stand the way so many animals are treated like inanimate objects. We wanted our animals to have quality lives "being chickens," or "being pigs," or ... Of course, I know many chicken owners who keep their flock secured whenever they're not around, and they make sure their birds are happy. But as you said, many others keep their animals caged up always indoors and often in small spaces that don't allow for any "natural" chicken behavior at all. I can't imagine that those birds have any quality of life at all. IMHO, chickens that are allowed to free range, even on a limited scale, are just plain happier. Sure, it raises the risks of predation and accidents, but again IMHO it's worth it.

post #18 of 55

We used to allow ours to free range during the day but they were pulling all of the mulch from our flower beds (as chickens do while looking for bugs) and were not very friendly with our vegetable garden.  Also they ventured out of our 4 acres on both sides to our neighbors yards.  I did not receive complaints from them but did not want to chance it.  We did have some chickens and indian runner ducks go missing with no clue as to their were abouts so there was some loss.  So we built a larger combined penned area for the chickens and ducks.  They do get sun, grass and to be chickens each and everyday.  I have been fencing off large areas to replant grass since they do tend to tear that up.

Also we use pine shavings in our coop and I have been trying to do a deep litter method but with all of the mud from snow and rain it makes for a heavy mess.  I have used straw in the past and found that to end up smelling worse than the pine shavings so I went back to them.  I have never tried sand but have heard some positive things.

Lucky husband of one wonderful homeschooling wife!!!!
Blessed father to 3 sons (19, 11 & 9) and 2 daughters (14 & 6)!!!!
Watchman, caretaker and feeder to 1 chocolate lab, 3 cats, 46 mixed chickens (RIR, BO, etc), 19 mixed baby chicks and 13 Indian Runner ducks.
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Lucky husband of one wonderful homeschooling wife!!!!
Blessed father to 3 sons (19, 11 & 9) and 2 daughters (14 & 6)!!!!
Watchman, caretaker and feeder to 1 chocolate lab, 3 cats, 46 mixed chickens (RIR, BO, etc), 19 mixed baby chicks and 13 Indian Runner ducks.
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post #19 of 55

seems like in a cold climate sand would not be very efficient in helping to keep the coop warmer, I like pine shavings myself.

Living in the Beautiful Mountains of Western N.C.. with 15 chickens= EE's, Game, Cochin bantams,Light Brahma,  Black Australorps . 13Muscovy ducks, 1 Embden Gander,2 Toulouse geese 1 American Buff, 3 mini Dachshunds, 1 mixed breed, pond goldfish,  and a wonderful Husband who makes it all possible..

 

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Living in the Beautiful Mountains of Western N.C.. with 15 chickens= EE's, Game, Cochin bantams,Light Brahma,  Black Australorps . 13Muscovy ducks, 1 Embden Gander,2 Toulouse geese 1 American Buff, 3 mini Dachshunds, 1 mixed breed, pond goldfish,  and a wonderful Husband who makes it all possible..

 

http://www.godvine.com/Moving-Video-To-A-Christmas-Hallelujah-Reminds-Us-What-Christmas-Is...

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post #20 of 55

I have stacks of wood and piles of pine shavings in my shop and it doesn't help keep the shop warmer.  I'm thinking the belief that pine shavings keeps it warmer might be a myth.  Besides, it seems to have been shown beyond doubt that warmth is not an issue except in the most extreme temperatures, like below 0.

Married since 1987, daughter born in 1990, son born in 1992, 1 medium sized white dog, 11 hens, 2 RIR's, 2 Red Stars, 2 Black Australorps, 2 Ameraucanas, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 large Bluegill, 2 small Large Mouth bass, 1 large Plecostomus.
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Married since 1987, daughter born in 1990, son born in 1992, 1 medium sized white dog, 11 hens, 2 RIR's, 2 Red Stars, 2 Black Australorps, 2 Ameraucanas, 1 Barred Rock, 1 Silver Laced Wyandotte, 1 Buff Orpington, 1 large Bluegill, 2 small Large Mouth bass, 1 large Plecostomus.
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