After 2 yrs. of free range...it finally happened

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by palabeco, Aug 18, 2008.

  1. palabeco

    palabeco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    A hawk attack! It got one of my BO pullets. So now the chickens stay in the run untill we are outside to watch the skies. Although they seem more vigilant now. Even the ducks are looking up more often.

    Then last night around 11 pm, my dh steps outside before going to bed, and calls for me to come out, I come out and he says "listen" It was the most disturbing sound I ever heard...An animal screaming, some crunching sounds, and some growling....I think some coyotes got a deer.
    Now my boys can't go in the woods to play anymore.

    I'm not asking for sympathies for the loss, I know the risks involved when free ranging, but those sounds last night really gave me the willies.
     
  2. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator Staff Member

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    Quote:Is there any special reason you decided to go with free ranging for your birds (that outweighed the risk that a bird would be killed)? Just wondering about philosophy; not trying to condemn you.
     
  3. palabeco

    palabeco Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just think the birds are healthier and happier free ranging.
    They get more of a variety of bugs and vegatation when they free range, which I think makes better eggs.
     
  4. chicknmania

    chicknmania Overrun With Chickens Premium Member

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    Sorry, but to not allow your kids to play in the woods is a bit extreme, in my opinion. We hear and have always heard those sounds frequently, and our kids always played in the woods while theywere growing up, they are young adults now. If they were coyotes, they were after their prey, not your kids. It was probably a rabbit, not a deer, because rabbits do scream. As far as losing chickens when they are free ranging, ours always have free ranged. Although we lose one occasionally, we feel that they are happier and healthier, and produce premium eggs. They also learn to watch out for themselves. We have lost more chickens when they were cooped up in our barn roosting at night then we ever have when they were free ranging. They are chickens, designed by nature to be prey animals. That doesn't mean you are automatically going to lose them all; we had one roo that lived to be ten years old. And finally, this is the most prevalent time of year that hawks will prey on your flock. A State wildlife employee told me once to count on hawks in August and September, and other predators March - May.
     
  5. ams3651

    ams3651 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 23, 2008
    NE PA
    We have a nice size hawk here too, I just let them out for the first time a couple days ago and watched them the whole time. I must say my roo did a good job keeping them together then just rounded them up and took them inside. We played in our woods as kids, there are bears and bob cats here but we were taught the signs to look for and to make alot of noise. We usually took the dog too, he was the first to smell a bear one day. We didnt know it till my aunt up the road said she saw it traveling thru about an hour after we were out.
     
  6. nautical_bouy

    nautical_bouy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I feed the crows and they do a good job of keeping the hawks away.
     
  7. Cuban Longtails

    Cuban Longtails Flock Mistress

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    Quote:The bad side of that is that crows will steal your eggs.
     
  8. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

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    I'm sorry you had your first loss, it is inevitable but sad. I too free range - no fences whatsosever - surrounded by thousands of acres of woods filled with every predator known to man and chicken. I lost a few of my older girls this spring shortly after moving here because they were used to wandering far into the woods and sometimes not making it back by dark. The younger ones that were reaised here are learning to keep closer to home and don't go as far into woods as the older ones do. Our dogs have now had more time to chase predators away from edge of woods. Will I lose more to free ranging - yes. Will I change my "philosophy"? NO! Why - because they are happier and healthier and have a better life. I get more enjoyment, as do the many guests here, of wandering the property and seeing chickens everywhere we go - all running up to greet you and seeking treats. My young ones all started laying eggs at four months, the roosters began fertilizing those eggs at five months and now I'm hatching my own flock. Every hen lays an egg a day, with rare exception. They have never molted or stopped laying in winter.

    Those who keep them locked up in Fort Knox still have losses and deal with issues I've never had to deal with. I to don't have pecking issues or fighting (even amongst the many roosters). I raise all age groups and let the babies start free ranging at one week old and no one has ever harmed them and I've never lost a baby chick. I have a disabled chicken that others not only do not pick on, they seem to go and gently sit by her.

    Free ranging is the way God intended this remarkable creature to live. Locking it in a bubble in an effort to keep it alive longer does not mean it has a better life.

    If I were asked my preferences, for my own life style, I would choose a life well lived, living freely, with the possible quick and sudden death to a life long lived in captivity with limited freedom. If we let our children go out into the world, why would we try and hold onto chickens? Our children could also be attacked by predators, hit by cars, get in accidents but if we kept them locked up, they would miss out on living life. None of us have any guarantees. My philosophy is to enjoy life and let my animals enjoy it as well. I would rather find a few feathers and know that my chicken died a quick death and went on to feed a fox or coyote than find it dead from long term abuse by another chicken that slowly pecked it to death and ate it alive because is was cooped up in too small a space. In the second scenario, I would feel that I failed my chicken. It died a senseless and tormented and tortured death.
     
  9. Quail_Antwerp

    Quail_Antwerp [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2665.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG]Mrs

    Aug 16, 2008
    Ohio
    We have the occassional hawk here, but my BO Roo does a good job at getting the girls inside. He usually calls them in when any bird flies over, even a robin...Guess he figures better safe than sorry LOL

    I would love to free range my chickens, and I did try that a bit, but they soon found the garden, and my husband freaked. He said if we get the garden fenced in next year, then I can free range my chickens during the day and just pen them in the evening.

    edited to add: my bantams do have free range of the yard during the day, except the Silkies. I open the door for them in the morning and leave it open, but they don't choose to venture out. I started this because they fly out anyway, and this way they go back in at night.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2008
  10. DawnSuiter

    DawnSuiter Chillin' With My Peeps

    I wrestle with the decision to free-range or not all the time and probably will continue to do so. So, thanks to those of you who post about the free-ranging experience, it's extremely helpful to hear it from your perspective.

    I'm sorry you had this loss, but thank you for sharing.
     

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