Can I free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WilcoxChickens, May 26, 2011.

  1. WilcoxChickens

    WilcoxChickens In the Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    I'm hoping that this is the place to post this topic so please don't flay me if I'm in the wrong place [​IMG]

    I'm VERY new to chickens and I'm hoping everyday that I don't do something to mess my chickens up. I'm a bit of a worrier when it comes to these types of things and I should probably just relax because I seem to make a LOT more out of it than is probably necessary.

    So, here is my question on letting my hens be free range. I have a HUGE yard with a lot of property with no neighbors and a lot of swampland. My husband and I are building a coop and it will include an enclosed run. I would love for my chickens to be able to have free range in the yard but we don't have any fences around the property. My husband's cousin and his girlfriend also have chickens and they let theirs just run wild around their yard all the time. They live in a very small neighborhood with minimal neighbors but their chickens don't seem to leave the yard at all.

    Do I need to really worry about my chickens just wandering out of the yard into the tall grass never to be seen again? I do know I will have to keep an eye out for owls and hawks out here and our yard has large birch trees throw around but not enough for good cover. I would very much like to be able to allow my chickens to run the property at their whim.

    Any ideas? Would it be better for us to fence in a large portion of the yard and let the chickens run around in there or will their learn where their "area" is and stick to it?

    Thanks in advance,
  2. NYRIR

    NYRIR Songster

    May 13, 2010
    Quote:Be aware that if you free range you WILL eventually lose some.
    That said,I free range and have had no losses (3 close calls)in a little over a year.I EXPECT to lose some sooner or later.I do have fence around the perimeter of the yard but they can get out if they want to.It's mostly there to "deter" dogs.
    I think the benefits of free-ranging outweigh the risk myself.My yard provides lots of cover...(trees,shrubs...the coop is a foot and a half off the ground...)Maybe you could plant some things for them to find cover under.I would suggest if you do that,make a few areas around the yard...not just one.
    My chickens choose to stay within roughly an acre of space because everything they want is right there.Food/water/grass/bugs/treats/dustbath holes/shade...etc. Look around your yard,think like a chicken...and you'll do just fine [​IMG]
  3. Chicken.Lytle

    Chicken.Lytle Songster

    Oct 19, 2010
    Montgomery County, TX
    Welcome to BYC! You have come to the coolest place on the internet for chicken knowledge.

    I started with chickens last summer and the people of BYC have been great. This year I have tried hatching and buying chicks for even more chickeny joy. Please visit my BYC Page for my blog links that you may find informative or amusing.

    When I started, my chicken pen was not covered. Because of this, my chickens decided to free range themselves. They enjoyed eating bugs. I enjoyed watching chickens roam my 3 acres.

    I knew that I was taking a risk and I accepted that risk, logically. But my heart did not.

    Now I keep them in a fully enclosed pen. When I let them out it is a quick run from pen to tractor. I may free range if the hawks ever leave, but their cried fill the air every day.
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  4. WilcoxChickens

    WilcoxChickens In the Brooder

    May 16, 2011
    I might go ahead and give it a try. I have a fully grown male rooster and was wondering if he will keep an eye on his "hens" while they are all out of the run and in the yard. Currently he is the own adult as he was given to me just recently and my other 6 are only 3 weeks old. There are lilac bushes around the yard and I never thought about those for cover [​IMG] Like I said, I'm probably way over thinking this whole thing.

    How hard are chickens to round back up and get into the run once they are outside? I'm guessing it might just depend on the chickens. Mine don't seem to want anything to do with me right now [​IMG] They squeeze into a corner of the box when I put my hand in there half the time and it breaks my heart. Maybe I'm not spending enough time with them. I was just wondering if I let them out into the yard to free range for a short time each day how hard it would be to get them to go back in.
  5. nekkiddoglady

    nekkiddoglady In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2010
    I let my 2 roos free range when Im home. I know there's a risk. Ocassionally I have seen a big bird flying around outside, but dont see it on a regular basis. My roos tend to hang around the shed, and my back porch, so they are pretty well covered.

    I have a neighbor a few doors down who lets his chickens free range.. they ussually are near the road, I think more of them have become roadkill than a meal for a predator.

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