Anyone let chickens loose in cow pasture unsupervised?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by 0o0, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. Only if the fencing was not barbed wire.

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  2. Only if I could afford to lose a few chickens.

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  3. Only if I could close the coop door at night.

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  4. Absolutely, with few/no concerns.

    2 vote(s)
    25.0%
  5. Never! Too much can go wrong!

    0 vote(s)
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  6. Other (please comment below)

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. 0o0

    0o0 New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2017
    I am considering getting a few dozen chickens for fly control for my 8 cows on 60 acres (I read they eat the larvae in the cow poop). This is in central Texas. The cows have an opened walled shed and the pasture has many large trees.
    I have never had chickens before.
    The main problem is I can't be there every day because my house isn't built yet and it's a drive. When I was mowing a few weeks ago I spotted many rat burrows, a coyote and a hawk. On another occassion I almost stepped on what I think was a Rough Greensnake (which eat insects).

    The coop (do I need one?) door would be open all the time.
    The perimeter fence is barbed wire, which birds can have problems with.

    I expect to lose chickens on a regular basis, but is the flock likely to survive or be wiped out?
    Should I have more roosters than usual for flock protection?
    Would the cows scare off predators?
    Will the chickens try to leave the property or tend to stay with the cows?
     
  2. The Moonshiner

    The Moonshiner Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That set up would be a death sentence.
    Complete loss of flock.
     
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  3. Parront

    Parront Overrun With Chickens

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    I lost a lot of my chickens to dogs. Something I have wished to do is put a burro in the field, they hate dogs and coyotes. (First I have to get a place with such a field)! Some do this with all roosters, you don't loose much if a few get eaten, don't have to pick up the eggs, either. I will be interested in the others responses
     
  4. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I am a rancher in western SD. I have barb wire, cows and chickens. There is no problem that I have ever had with either barb wire or cows and chickens.

    What will get you and wipe you out is the coyotes, hawks, and if you have seen them, I am pretty sure you also have coons. Coons are relentless.

    Chickens are domesticated birds, they need at least a predator proof coop at night, coons will treat an open roosting area like the local tasty freeze, and stop by each night till gone. Then leave you a note to get more chickens, you are out.

    Personally, I have had good luck with a good mature rooster and daytime predators of hawks. No rooster or multiple roosters are any good against coyotes, or coons.

    It won't work, you will lose the flock, and I would bet in less days than you can really believe.

    Mrs K
     
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  5. BabyBoss

    BabyBoss Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They won't make it. Have to wait till the house is finished and you can shut them in at night and keep them safe.
     
  6. 0o0

    0o0 New Egg

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    Sep 21, 2017
    Thank you for your insightful comment. I found "automatic coop doors" which operate based on a timer or photocell and are powered by batteries or a solar panel. If the chickens had a coop with an automated coop door to protect them at night, do you think the flock could survive during the day?
     
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Maybe, but not probable. When people are around, stomping about, that tends to move predators off. When they are gone for days, predators move back in. Coyotes are very good at this, sometimes, I have found out later, they were watching me, waiting for an opportunity. Really, I would not give an experienced mature flock of 25-30 head to last more than a month in the set up you are describing.
     
  8. sannabelle

    sannabelle Overrun With Chickens

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    Hawks hunt during the day- as do hungry coyotes with pups...also that would be banking on them all going into the coop on clockwork time, which may or may not happen. Even my hens who have been established for 2+years still stragle on in from time to time.

    I personally don't think it's worth the risk.

    Have you looked at getting fly predators shipped in? A friend of mine has done that on her property and had pretty good success, and we've thought about doing it here. You can order them online.

    Would at least be a good solution until you can move to your property and be there for chicken management.
     
  9. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    I concur.

    The cows, barbed wire, and chickens are great. The chickens will love digging in the cow dung and will hang in the pasture with the cows who won't care about the birds.

    The rats won't be a big problem, except they will eat any feed you leave for the livestock. Some chickens will actually eat the smaller rats.

    Hawks will pick off from above. Roosters are generally good at alerting, so you'll need a strong one on guard and some hiding places. You'll loose some from time to time until the flock gets savvy. My hens are now pretty hawk savvy.

    But the coyote will clean you out in a night. Ditto you've likely got coons.

    You will have to build fort knox to lock them up at night if you want to maintain a flock with that coyote(s....as there is more). Electric fence along the perimeter will help as well.

    Nice set up for some free range birds. I suggest you look into Buckeyes for a good dual purpose bird that is a good free ranger, provides nice meat on the boys, girls lay decently.

    LofMc
     
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  10. Lady of McCamley

    Lady of McCamley Overrun With Chickens

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    Another thought is getting a LGD. A well trained LGD will help a lot with all the predators, especially the big ones.

    LofMc
     
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