Advice on pasturing my hens please and thank you!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by JSossong, Jul 28, 2014.

  1. JSossong

    JSossong Chirping

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    I currently have a flock of 23- 11 (16 week old) RSLs and 12 (11 week old) BRs. I keep them in a spacious coop with an attached/ portable run. More recently a lot of them have been flying out of the run -its only a 3ft tall fence at this point- which really isn't a problem considering we have more than enough land for them to graze on.

    The only issues are.... 1) some of them can't figure out how to fly back into the run when they want to go in 2) if I need to put them away before dark it's quite a chore trying to round them all up to put them back in the coop 3) my dad has started to complain about them digging and scratching around his trees/garden and pooping everywhere (which to me is no problem at all and actually I believe is great for the land and the chickens but it's his land so I have to be respectful).

    I began free ranging them completely because it's a hassle to keep trying to get them to stay in the run. I can tell that they are so much happier, which in turn makes me happier because I know this is how they should be living, free ranging on a pasture. The problem lies with my dad....

    He keeps saying I should build a more secure run for my girls and/or clip their wings. I'm not opposed to either considering, like I said above, I live on his land for now and must be respectful of his wishes. But he doesn't seem to complain when he's supplied with beautiful, healthy eggs with yolks the color of the sun.

    My other issue is predators... I'm nervous that I will lose some hens to wild animals while free ranging them and I hate the thought of that.

    So basically I'm looking for advice here. Should I come to an agreement with my dad so I can continue letting them free range completely? Or should I bite the bullet and build a more secure run/clip feathers? (Btw the run is full of delicious weeds and clover for the hens to snack on, so it's not like they aren't getting the nutrition while being in the run). I'm just at an in-between and not sure which route to go.

    All and any suggestions/advice is welcome!
    Thanks!
     

  2. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I think all chicken keepers should have a secure run available, even if it's not in use all the time. It will keep your birds safe from predators at night, and allow you to be free to go on vacation, etc. As someone who has their world turned upside down with an unexpected, prolonged hospitalization, I've embraced being prepared for others to have to look out for your animals, and to make things as easy as possible for them.

    You might also look into something like electrified poultry netting, for pasturing your flock in an area your father approves of. The netting is pretty mobile, so you can move the area from day to day as you need, but fence out his landscaping he doesn't want the birds on.
     
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  3. JSossong

    JSossong Chirping

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    Western PA
    @donrae that's a good point. I was straying away from electric fencing because regular fencing is less expensive but at this point I know it will be worth it. How pricey is electric fencing, and is it quite simple to work with? I don't know much on the subject. I guess I have some researching to do..
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    Check out Premier Fencing.
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I don't have personal experience with poultry netting, but am really looking at going that direction this fall. Premier seems to be the go-to brand.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Crossing the Road

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    When you compare the permanency of standard fencing, as well as buying the posts, and the lack of options re: moving the fencing to give the flock fresh grazing land, electronet fencing seems like the better choice to me. But, that's just my opinion.
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    I don't free range because:

    ...don't want the risk of losing any of my 10 birds(to plenty of predation or the busy road I live on).
    ......don't want the birds(and their poop) where I don't want them.

    So I built this:
    [​IMG]

    Eventually I will try out some electronet for pasturing off the main run.........
    ......meanwhile I provide them with greens and animal protein, and know they are always as safe as possible.
    They have plenty of space to be pretty content.

    ETA: having a secure run in case you need it due to predation, absence or whatever cannot be underestimated.
    My run, tho 'permanent', could be fairly easily moved if necessary.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2014

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