can silkies freerang safely

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by abhaya, Nov 5, 2010.

  1. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    My son talked me into letting him get some silkie chicks. they are only 3 weeks so not ready to go anywhere yet. my question is can they be loose to free range with my other chickens or should i build them a small coop and run and keep them away from the other chickens. i live in the country i have cats that have not messed with the regular size birds but they do hunt mice ect. we also have a small creek on the property. how big would a coop for 10 silkies need to be and how big should the run be.

    I solved the problem I asked my son what he wanted he said he wanted them safe in a coop with a nice big run so coop and run it is. any suggestions on a coop are welcome.I am posting in coops and maintanance.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  2. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Silkies with their crests don't see well and are especially prone to predator attacks because of it, their smaller size doesn't help matters. I think predators by land (especially cats,dogs, etc.) and those by sky (hawks) would pick them off first. I don't know if they need their own coop and run, they can integrate well with other breeds. Some people cut the crests back or pull them back in a loose pony tail so the silkies can see around them. Any bird free ranging needs bushes or obstacles (crates, boxes and so on) that they can run to for protection if a predator attacks.
  3. stumble_n_mumble

    stumble_n_mumble Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 23, 2008
    Long Island, NY
    i have silkies and they free range with the ducks and other chickens, i have never had any issues with them [​IMG]
  4. abhaya

    abhaya Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2010
    cookeville, tn
    my other birds free range the coop is open all day for them tp go in and out. so keeping them in that coop would not work very well i am thinking of a tracktor coop for them so they can be out and about but still protected. there is plenty of places for them to hide if they want to.
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  5. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    I would not free range mine . . . but most of mine are breeder quality from show lines, and they have huge fluffy crests and need haircuts just to see at all. I keep mine penned with other bantams.

    Other folks may have different experiences - - and pet quality silkies may be more athletic and have less fluff near the eyes.
  6. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    They can free range just like LF chickens can. Of course, like any chicken, a hawk or whatever could come down and take them, but they do enjoy free ranging very much.

    It should be your choice.....some people like to play it safely and keep their chickens in the enclosed run, and some like to free range their chickens. It's all up to you....

    I would say, if you keep them locked up, to make sure they have some different things to scratch around in or roost on to keep them busy. Just so they don't get bored.

    Right now, fall leaves are a nice thing to add to the run for them to scratch in. They like pine needles too (from a soft fir tree). A few branches here and there or a brush pile would give them some entertainment too.....
  7. Jenski

    Jenski Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 17, 2008
    Middle Tennessee
    Quote:Ahhh, you would always want to build LARGER than what you need, since you will inevitably end up with many, many more birds than you intended, LOL!

    There are lots of math equations out there floating around for square feet per bird, and they are a good place to start. I can tell you from my own experience that my 10-12 bantam pen is a very mellow and content place with an 8 x 10 foot (6' interior height) kids' playhouse (with front screened porch), plus 10 x 14 covered pen full of perches and playthings.

    Chickens are happiest free ranging, I think, but it just depends on how much loss you can tolerate. For my bantams I personally cannot tolerate loss to predators, so we do pens. I agree with chicmom, if you keep your birds penned you do well to give them plenty of things to keep busy. We do fall leaf piles, straw piles, veggies to pick at, even trimmed tree limbs to pick clean.

    Good luck! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2010
  8. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Depending upon the size of their crests they are more vulnerable to predator attacks than non crested birds.
  9. DillardHome

    DillardHome Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2009
    Claxton, GA
    When I first started letting my chickens free range I had no problems for the longest time but one day it happened. I saw all the chickens freaking out running for cover onto the backporch. I went outside just in time to see something trying to get my white Silkie. Luckily the hawk saw me and dropped "Beaker", I ran over and he did not move when I went to pick him up he started running around (he must have been in shock). He only had a scratch but man was he lucky I came out when I did - minutes counted that day. His white color and restricted vision made him the prime target. It wasn't until a couple months ago that I started letting them all free range again (being so paranoid), I just figured they are soooooo much happier free ranging that I will do my best to keep an ear out. But the Silkie Roo primarily stays close to the coop and tree line nowadays, he lets the EE Roo take the girls out in the open yard.

    I saw what DRUMSTICK DIVA posted about some people trim the crests, that seems like a good idea.
  10. catdaddy66

    catdaddy66 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 18, 2009
    Lugoff, SC
    not only is the crest an issue, but the feathered legs are not conducive to scratching up lunch effectively. That is one of the drawbacks to these beautiful birds/breeds.

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