Allowing Chickens Outside the Coop - Debate


5 Years
Feb 18, 2018
So my friend and I were discussing the risks and merits of allowing chickens to roam occasionally outside their designated run. I have a small coop with small runs (perhaps 4 sq. ft. per bird) for my 2 backyard chickens. On a few occasions I have let the chickens out of the run for supervised excursions throughout the yard. I noticed one of my chickens is restless whenever she sees me in the backyard presumably because she wants to explore outside of her confined area. I noticed this behavior shortly after the chickens escaped their coop after my daughter did not properly close a nesting box and they learned that there is an entire world outside their small coop and run. My position on supervised excursions was that it is perhaps psychologically helpful for the chickens to roam around and explore new areas at times. I feel what I would describe as compassion to a allow an animal to explore and not be treated exclusively as a resource for eggs. My friend perhaps rightfully so noted that what happens is the chickens then develop a yearning to constantly be outside their coop and this causes distress, etc. Perhaps a very valid point he raised so I am torn between allowing the chickens out for supervised visits on occasion or confining them almost exclusively at all times. Thoughts?
If mine were confined all day I'm not sure we'd like each other very much lol! They spend more time outside than inside, its risky but they are happy. Sounds corny but their lives are finate just like ours and they get bored and depressed with the same surroundings every day like we do. I just can't be ok with knowing that and keeping them cooped to keep them safe if they're going to be unhappy. Just my personal thoughts, I'm a little hippy dippy about my chickens. :)
I let mine out when we’re home and able to keep an eye on them. Which is most days. They hate being stuck in the coop. They love scratching in the green grass and they also eat TONS of bugs so we use them for bug control. They even eat baby snakes and crawfish!

I would definitely let them out when you’re able to. It makes for much happier hens!
I vote for letting them out.
As for "risk" or "danger" it depends a lot on where you live. While they will never be totally without danger, some places are safer than others.
I let me chickens out of the coop every day - I don't even have a "run" for them. Once they are out of the coop they have the whole world before them! They stay mostly in the "yard" but occasionally go down to try and steal some grain from the goats, of explore the woods for bugs, but they always come back and get in their coop before dark.
Just this evening, ironically, a man visiting one of my neighbors brought his pit bull with him and of course the dog got loose and came over to my place to explore - three other dogs, three cats, two goats, five chickens . . . what a new world for him. The guy he doesn't understand people who see a pit bull and want to kill them. I replied, I won't shoot him for being a pit bull, but I will shoot him if he gets one of my chickens or hurts one of the goats. He seemed okay with that. . . . and its a good thing, cause that is exactly what will happen. :th
But by an large I don't have any trouble by letting my chickens free range all day every day.
And as for health - getting bugs and seeds from nature has got to be healthier than any manufactured feeds. And better for us too - the fewer bugs, I mean. :thumbsup
I have large runs but mine free range most the yr. In the fall I cut down to mostly breeding stock and can't afford to loose a single one. When they are used to being free, and then confined they act like those wolves you see in zoo's.
I let my big girls out. They love poking about the "garden" (it was a garden, once :D) I'm a bit nervous about the little girls, although they've been let out a few times. Some don't come out if I open the run they like to stay where they feel safe (or whatever)
I really like this! I've already screwed up though if I'm not out there at sunrise there's eggs in the doorway and more bites than a Mike Tyson fight and that's maybe being ten minutes late. A girl can dream of sleeping in though. :(
I let mine out, but not everyday and on no set schedule, that way I am not waking up to chickens demanding to be let out.
There is a risk letting them out, but by switching up the days and such I think it is minimized as the predators never know when they are out unless they get lucky.


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