Can I free range?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by HennyYoungman, Dec 14, 2014.

  1. They should be out as much as they can, but every once in awhile, you will lose a hen.

    2 vote(s)
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  2. They should be out, but less so when the trees are bare (e.g., winter and autumn).

    0 vote(s)
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  3. Glad you added a run to your coop, that's where belong except when you are watching!!!

    2 vote(s)
    50.0%
  1. HennyYoungman

    HennyYoungman Out Of The Brooder

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    Dec 14, 2014
    We live in suburban Washington DC. We got a coop. And we pretty much let our two hens have free run of our fenced in yard. At night or when we would be away for extended stretches of time, we closed the hens in the coop. But whenever we were home during the day, they could roam and have fun.

    This worked great until some sort of a hawk swooped down and killed one of them.

    We have now extended the coop with a fenced in structure that gives them another say 8x8x8 area. But we have been very skittish about allowing them to roam beyond the coop again. (We got a new hen so there is again a pair).

    Are we being overly protective? Are there times of day or of the year where we can give them more free reign? Or should they generally be in their coop/run?

    Thanks.

    "Henny Youngman"
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    There's really no time you can be assured that predators aren't afoot.
    I recommend you get a few more because as flock animals, they like friends. Plus, 2 birds can't come close to giving a family enough eggs.

    ETA
    It probably isn't an option for you but a big agile rooster with a flock is a good predator deterrent during the day. At night they're all sitting ducks.
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2014
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    As ChickenCanoe stated, there is always a chance of predators, even in the city. You are the only one who can decide if you want to free range or not. When you do, there is always a chance that you'll lose one or more birds. I live out in the country, predators in abundance. I went for 3 years without a loss. I have now had losses 2 years in a row. My chickens are now in a coop with attached run. They will free range again. I'm just not sure when.
     
  4. gawildlife

    gawildlife Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hampton, GA
    You're actually at greater risk in urban environments than rural due to the greater carrying capacity and habitat plus the greater reduced risks to predators.

    Drive around the average subdivision and count the number of trash cans, bird feeders, pet food dishes, back yard gardens, fruit trees, edible landscaping and grasses. Compared to average rural monoculture (large pastures/large agriculture/large woodland) and you find far more foodstuffs in the city plus 90% of the food raised in the country ends up in the city anyway.
    Now for habitat, again compare the single use monoculture rural landscape to the urban multiplicity of small residential lots with boundary fencing and plantings with all waterways and drainages belted with natural vegetation to lush landscaped parks and recreational areas but all of it linear creating vast miles of habitat edge and transition zones where predators thrive.
    Now to this perfect storm of food and habitat bring in the main course. Commensal species such as roof and norway rats, rock doves aka pigeons, imports like starlings and our feral cats and dogs and you have an almost unlimited ability to sustain untold numbers of wildlife within the limits of all our metropolitan areas.
    Our rural areas by comparison are a desert. Plus the country critters have hunters and trappers to deal with unlike their city cousins.
     
    2 people like this.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm in a large metropolitan area in the Midwest but there are still coyote, fox, raccoon, opossum, weasel, mink, hawks, owls, bobcat and the occasional cougar. Bears aren't that far away either. The first 8, I've had in my yard frequently.
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    You can free range, but it's always a risk.
    Mine stay confined 24/7 because I don't want to lose even one chicken...among other reasons.
     

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