Can I truly free range my chickens????

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by kennedyscochins, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. kennedyscochins

    kennedyscochins Songster

    Sep 1, 2009
    Big Clifty
    I am considering building another decent sized coop in the spring for my chickens that would not have a run attached. I would like for them to have the coop to eat, drink, sleep and nest in and then be in the yard all day. Does this work very well? Currently, I have breeding pens with netting over the top so that nothing can bother them, but since I am not breeding them right now, they stay in the yard most of the time anyway. I am not having trouble with predators. I just think it would be easier on me to do this in the spring and the girls would be happy too! I just need input if you all think this will work?

  2. ranchhand

    ranchhand Rest in Peace 1956-2011

    Aug 25, 2008
    I can only speak from my experiences, but it's not something I do anymore. Between stray/escaped dogs, hawks and predators coming from the woods I had to give up. I thought we had a good situation, 13 laying hens and a couple of roos later I learned my lesson.

    It really just comes down to how secure your property is.
  3. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    I free-range, & have been for years. They all run the barn lot by day,in the barn by night. Works for me. I'm also in the sticks, but I do have to take precautions from predators.
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    It can work for you if that's what you want to do and you go into it open minded, knowing that most likely, at some point in time, you are going to loose some. Chickens are one of those bottom-of-the-food-chain critters and eventually something is going to figure out they are running around whether its a stray dog, racoon, fox, coyote, hawk, you name it. Lots of people free range with that understanding, other's prefer not to.
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2010

  5. kennedyscochins

    kennedyscochins Songster

    Sep 1, 2009
    Big Clifty
    Thank you all for your replies. I do understand that I may lose a few (hopefully not), but I let them out all day as it is now. When I first got chickens, I lost some to an unknown predator, until one morning I went out and found a coon my dog had killed laying in the driveway. Since then, no more problems. I have a wonderful dog who protects the girls for me!
  6. prairiepearls

    prairiepearls Songster

    Jan 2, 2010
    Wichita, Kansas
    I, too, am thinking of giving my chickens (when I get them) free range of our suburban fenced yard during the daylight hours. As long as the coop is predator-proof for the overnight hours, they'd be OK, wouldn't they? We have a 6-foot wood fence and never get stray dogs in the yard. Cats, yes, but I understand they usually leave adult chickens alone? We do have occasional possums and (probably) raccoons, but they're only active at night, aren't they? It seems to me the only real danger might be hawks, but our yard has a lot of trees, so I don't think they're be too visible. Does that sound OK?
  7. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    I had gone thru periods of losses. I kept seeing ads for a Nite Guard, but $30 for a red flashing light? Yeah right! I became desperate & that has been the BEST $30 I may have ever spent. Between turkeys guarding daylight, & the red flashing light at night, I haven't lost a bird in a year or so.
    I might add that the electric fence keeps stray dogs at bay.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2010

  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Prairiepearls...with standard sized breeds, a six foot fence should be enough. They fly better when they're younger, and they'll be "younger" for several months. If you get a flier, you can always clip a wing. You can always build a run if you're finding that they can get out (many neighbors don't appreciate chickens digging up their landscape bedding).
    If you're faithful about securing them at night, I would think you'd be set.

    Kennedy...I think many people do free ranging and are fine/successful with it, knowing that they're probably going to lose a few birds a year. My chickens are pets, so the risk of real free ranging isn't worth it to me, although they are out of the run when I'm home to supervise...which hasn't happened often since this daggone cold snap's hit. If I had a bunch of chickens that I considered livestock, I probably would do "real" free ranging...
  9. I let mine out all day and locked them up at night and lost only 2 in 8 months. one was a young (and small) pullet and the other a white silkie roo. Both were snatched by hawks. My dog keeps the land predators at bay, and I have heard that hanging cd's from fishing line disorients and deters hawks, so I will try that when I move and can free range again.

  10. herefordlovinglady

    herefordlovinglady It Is What It Is

    Jun 23, 2009
    Nite Guard -- checking into it right now. We have free ranged for over two years now. Just now getting a coop (Christmas present from DH). We have lost some -- mainly in the early morning hours (coons mainly). DH started playing a radio outside at night and leaving our flood lights on. This has helped.

    I plan to get five to 10 hens once i get the coop painted, they will free range in the day and hopefully head to the coop at roost time, bringing the existing ones with them. High hopes....

    Hope it works for you..Hope it works for me too..

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