Two acres, front half is lawn, area behind the barn is woods with dense undergrowth (weeds, clover, wild flowers, poison ivy, blackberries, thistles, etc). Woods are to the right, the l-shaped property to the left and behind ours is pasture. Our woods go right up to our back property line. The three buildings on my property are, from front to back, house, garage, barn (which is actually a 1950s hen house with a concrete floor).
The barn. The left side houses our pigs and their yard is to the left of and out the back into the woods. In the right side we will build the chickens a place to sleep.
I'd like for the chickens to have as large an area as possible and be able to forage in the woods. These are behind and to the right side of the barn.
So what would you do with the space, given that:
1. I want them to forage and feed themselves as much as possible
2. I want them to have as big of an area as possible
3. I will be willing to accept the occasional loss from hawks or other predators
4. I don't want them to wander so far that they'd annoy the neighbors or cause an accident in the street
Will chickens really roam THAT far if they have awesome woods to play in? If so, is there a way I could discourage this without having to spend a ton of money fencing in 3/4 of an acre or more?
Lastly, if anyone knows a good way to do rotational pens with temporary fencing in an area with dense underbrush (and a stationary sleeping area), that would be great.
Thanks so much for any advice you can offer!