Do you guys free range your chickens when you are away from home for a few hours or for the day? I've only had my flock a couple of weeks (they're about 22 weeks old), and if I know I'm going out that day I wait until I get back to let them out. There was just one time I went out unexpectedly for a couple of hours and didn't put them back (they are hard to catch during the day and have too many good hiding spots under dense foliage). So I took my chances and left. All were there when I returned. Plus yesterday we spent several hours down the back of our farm cutting firewood so we were effectively out as we have 84 acres and 'down the back' is nearly a kilometre away (3 miles?).
Just wondering what others do. We are in Australia, so the only predators we really have to worry about is foxes and wedge tailed eagles. The chooks have good tree cover so I'm less worried about the eagles, more so about the foxes.
The peacock we used to have survived here 8 years before it got sick and died, and I've never seen a fox near the house, if that helps ( though I'm sure they're there and have seen them down the road)
Everything goes great, until it doesn't. I got away with free-ranging my flock for just over a year. Then, one day come home to find 9 out of 11 gone. All that was left was piles of different colored feathers all over the yard. The fox showed up around here. Took him awhile, but he got here. 650' of electrified poultry net was the answer for me.