Advice from FREERANGERS please....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by DawnSuiter, Sep 2, 2008.

  1. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    We recently started allowing our older cockerels range during the day. We have two groups, the first group has been at it for about 3 weeks, and they find their way back to the coop at night, not really a coop, more like a shack. The 2nd group (previously in quarantine) started getting out the last couple of days, and would prefer to roost on my front porch at night. Now, I think it's darling.. just two of them, the others don't seem interested.

    Anyway.. I have guard dog on duty and he's able to protect them at night... I was thinking of building a roost off my front porch over the garden and under the overhang and allowing some to roost there if they want. It's 5 feet from my front door, and the dog patrols at night when he hears something and sleeps in front of the door when not patrolling.

    Do any of you free-rangers allow outside roosting at night? These boys are my freezer birds and this was the lifestyle I was hoping to have for them. I'll always keep the hens/chicks/breeders behind lock & key but these guys, for which we'll always have a few I'm sure... do you think I could let them sleep outside?

    Thank you for your thoughts & experiences...
    Yes, I realize I may lose some or all.. but IMO Freedom isn't Free and it often costs lives. However I think they are pretty well protected in this fashion... the roost/porch is 8 ft off the ground...
  2. sussexgal

    sussexgal Chillin' With My Peeps


    Sounds like a sweet deal for the roo's. Their alpha roo just happens to be a pooch is all. If you are comfortable with the arrangenment you spoke of, I bet your birds will be happy too. IMHO
  3. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    I do a limited free range but the one thing you have to keep in mind even with a guard dog - unlimited, unsurpervised free ranging is a risk. You are always at risk of something at some point will get a chicken. A low swooping owl can get in out before your dog knows what's up. The same with hawks.

    You prove an even larger risk with allowing them to roost all over your place at night. Chickens go almost hypnotic and trance like at night. They roost in the highest places in effort to keep most night creatures from getting to them. In an attack the chickens usually are the losers.

    Something else to consider. Everywhere your chickens go they poop, drop feathers, scratch around and leave their scent. You can't smell it but predators can. Roaming chickens will bring in roaming predators. They will come back repeatedly for a chicken dinner unless they themselves are the prey and are taken out by a bigger predator like your dog.

    Big meat bird breeds get to a point where they often can barely run, can't fly up or jump up to roost and are left at the mercy of any attack on the ground.

    If you do free range in the manner you suggest you have to be willing to risk loosing every bird through no fault but your own. If you are in the mountains you also have to consider bear attacks once they get the scent of chickens in the air.

    Chickens are far happier locked up at night, safe and protected.

    Good luck with your choice.
  4. Mojo Chick'n

    Mojo Chick'n Empress of Chickenville

    Heya -

    I would definately stop them from roosting on my porch, LOL the poop is just way to harsh on my deck (and my feet and eyesight, and ... well, I don't want it there, LOL.)

    That being said...

    All of my spare roos freerange 24/7/365.

    Some of them sleep in the barn - which is where I would prefer ALL of them to sleep - it is dry and safer in there, but they have other ideas.

    The guineas sleep on top of the chicken run. A couple of roos used to sleep there, but one discovered the barn, and the other is now in with some ladies for breeding.

    One roo sleeps on the porch rail of the chicken coop (yeah, my chicken coop has a porch, LOL). He is the one in the most danger, IMO, but I have yet to convince him to sleep elsewhere.

    The guineas have slept in the barn a couple of times - when it got REALLY bad storms, but usually they tough it out, and no chasing or convincing or bribing can get them to sleep elsewhere. I had considered building an extra roof over part of the chicken run with a perch, so they can at least get out of the weather under it. Sort of like an Attic for the coop (what the heck, I got a porch already, I probably need an attic, LOL).

    So far I have lost one guinea, who was gotten out in the yard, not at night on their roost. I have hawks (saw a hawk take down a pigeon in the front yard yesterday) and an owl (a little guy, when I see him, I throw rocks at his tree so he'll fly elsewhere - it is an act of futility, though, and he and I both know it) and we have coyotes all over the place.

    One thing I got going with the coyotes is that I have donkeys - they tend to keep the coyotes farther away. The owl and hawk - well, I just hope the chickens are aware enough to escape. I cannot protect them from everything - just as I cannot (and would not) protect anyone from Everything. Sometimes life just happens (or death) and, not being the All Powerful Goddess that I tell my hubby I am <eg> I cannot stop nature or God.

    My vote, therefore, is to let them live out their lives in a free range fashion. Yes, you will lose a few - maybe you will lose all of them - It is up to you what you are willing to lose - only you can make that decision.

    Peace -
  5. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    I know the pic is awful but you get the point.. thats my living room window barely 2' behind them.

    Thank you miss p, I will consider everything you typed carefully
    Sussex, thank you for the support, I was very happy to hear someone else might think this could possibly work out.
    chicknmama thanks to you too for your information... what a fun mix of birds it sounds like you have. I DO have a coop for them, so I can always change my mind or force them in during poor weather or known dangers... thank you for sharing
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 2, 2008

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