Am I crazy to trust my chickens??

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Toi-toi, Jul 22, 2010.

  1. Toi-toi

    Toi-toi Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2010
    Central MA
    I have 6 of 10weeks old SS and they are free range since 7weeks old.
    We have hawks around so I wasn't sure to do free range but I thought I have enough hiding spots.
    We have one tall oak tree, raspberry bushes, pine tree with rose bushes, 2-holy berry trees, kid's toy play houses and above ground pool has deck all around.
    Their coop is always open during the day time if they want to go back.
    About 1/4arcer of back yard is fenced in for chickens.
    And I only do free range when I'm home. (I'm almost always home because I got small kids)

    Yesterday I saw hawk sitting on the tall pine tree in the back. (Not in my yard, lot next to my backyard)
    I posted on my facebook said "I got hawk, go away" then I got comment said "I can't believe you do free range with hawks around"
    I said "they have hiding spots and I have to trust their instincts to survive".
    She said I'm nuts, trusting my own chicken to survive...

    Am I crazy??? I should stop free range and lock them in to run???
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    You aren't doing ANYTHING wrong.....I do the exact same thing with mine. They have a coop, and a covered run, then when I get home from work, I let them free range until dusk when they're ready for bed, and they come in on their own.

    Now, I'm not saying you won't ever lose one to a hawk. I lost one last year to a hawk, and one this year. When I lost the first one, I kept them locked up most of the time, but they were so sad. In my humble opinion, I think the their happiness is work the risk. Meaning, I'd rather them have a shorter, happier, life, than spend a long time pacing in a cage.

    One thing I did notice is that both last year and this year, when each young chicken was taken, it was in the mornings on the weekend when I had let them out early. After 5pm, I rarely see a hawk. We're also surrounded by woods at our house, so there are also lots of places for them to hide.

    So I say NO YOU ARE NOT CRAZY! I think you're doing everything right! [​IMG]
  3. le neige homme

    le neige homme Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2010
    I recently had some hawk troubles and here is how Mr. Hawk played the game:

    He flew up into a nearby tree and waited. Of course, all the chickens ran for cover when he flew by, but then they thought the danger had passed and came out. That's when the hawk swooped down from the tree and got them. I lost four in a one week period.

    Mylar ribbon hung all over the place did the trick. My huge regret is that it took me so long to figure out that it was a hawk and how the hawk was doing it.
  4. NYchickies

    NYchickies Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 21, 2010
    I don't know it's a matter of trusting them, or taking your chances. I just embarked on the chicken raising experience, and plan to free range mine. I know that I have hawks. I see them regularly. I figured I'd still take my chances. I personally feel the eggs taste better, and are healthier, and the chickens are happier and healthier. Mine are just under 3 weeks old, so they aren't out on their own yet. I said that I wasn't going to get attached in case anything did happen to them![​IMG] I don't think you are nuts. Their instincts can be pretty amazing, even when days old.
  5. Sew the Farmers Wife

    Sew the Farmers Wife Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 7, 2010
    I free range my chickens, but am now reconsidering. I have learned hawks are patient and persistant, I have not lost a chicken yet, but judging from this hawks persistance I probably will. (He sat in a tree for 45 minutes yesterday morning watching my yard while we were waiting for the summer school bus. We see him the most at around 7:30 am and right before dusk [​IMG] I am going to try the ribbon thing first, but this hawk has swooped in the yard while I was in it, I also have 2 Labs who hang out with the chickens, and the hawk does not seem bothered by them either.

    Best luck to you! But I think we are headed to enclosed run [​IMG]
  6. cheeps

    cheeps Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2008
    Rockwell, NC
    Are you CRAZY or WRONG? No, not at all.

    You are RIGHT to trust your chickens instinct to survive. My birds know there's a hawk around before I do most of the time.

    That being said, don't be suprised to lose one or a few to the hawk. It happens! Does that mean I'm going to keep my birds locked up 24/7? For me it doesn't. If I see a hawk hanging around, I usually keep them up that day. But I've lost three total in two years to hawks. I was sad to lose those girls, but three in two years isn't that bad of odds.

    I agree wholeheartedly with chicmom, their happiness is worth the risk.

    Just my two cents.
  7. MyBlackHen

    MyBlackHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2010
    Upstate New York
    Quote:How do you hang the Mylar ribbon? Is that just fishing line? Do you have any pictures? Right now we only let our 7-week old pullets free range when we are out there with them. We are going to put in a large fenced yard around the coop because my neighbors have two dogs. However, we are not planning to cover the top of it with netting so hawks will still be an issue for us. Maybe the Mylar ribbon idea could help us.

  8. Morgan7782

    Morgan7782 Dense Egg Goo

    Mar 22, 2010
    Sacramento CA
    You have to come to a delicate balance of safety and cutting into chicken quality of life. I free range my girls in my urban backyard, Sacramento is VERY known for hawks, but I have been lucky so far with no sightings. I range them when somebody is home (usually everyday somebody is home) because chickens are meant to free range as much as possible. The more big outdoor time they get the happier and in turn healthier they are. If chickens are kept cooped up all the time due to dangers that lurk (which they do) that is no quality of life.

    You are doing everything right, they are chickens and need some space to streach their legs. I have had my girls free range since they were 8 weeks old, and now they are never put in a pen. I let them out of the coop in the morning and they free range all day until nightfall. I have 2 pens as well one is 12 x 9 feet and the other is 5 x 5 feet. I have them in case I ever need them, but don't use them until I do need them. [​IMG]
  9. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I think you are doing the best for your chickens letting them free range. You may loose some to predators, but their lives will be much happier being able to be out in your yard. Everybody has to make decisions like this for their animals, but I think you are doing the right thing. Sound like you have a little chicken heaven on earth....
  10. suburbanminifarm

    suburbanminifarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2009
    N.San Diego County
    I totally agree that the mylar ribbon OR cd's hung across the yard from fishing line WORKS! The hawks will sit and watch, but they can't find a clear place to swoop through with fishing line and cd's stretched across the most open areas. So evaluate your yard and see if there are any open, grassy problem areas that could still be unsafe and fix them. Happy free ranging!

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