Chickens Allowed to Roam in Yard??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by thesoundd, Aug 22, 2008.

  1. thesoundd

    thesoundd New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2008
    My roommate and I are considering delving into the chicken hobby, but I thought I would try and learn a bit before coop construction begins. We have a loft in our garage that could easily be wired in and made chicken-friendly. This lost opens up to the back yard, with about 4 feet of difference between the bottom of the door and the grass. Our initial intent was to construct a ramp up to the coop and build a small outdoor enclosure at the base of the ramp. With the blessing of our immediate neighbors, we hoped to allow the chickens free reign of the back yard during the day. Our concerns are:

    - The back yard is not fenced in. I read that chickens don't like to roam further than they can see their coop -- is there any truth to this? the coop is not visible from the street and it would be located ~250 feet away from the street. Would we still be at risk for chicken roadkill?

    - With some training and adjustments, will the chickens automatically return to the coop around sundown, or will there be some sort of wrangling involved?

    - If we decide on bantam chickens, will they be able to withstand the potentially harsh winter of upstate New York?

    Thanks!
     
  2. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    I can't answer the one question, but I can say my chickens stayed nice and close to their coop - for a while. Then just this last week suddenly they started wandering pretty far. They do go out of sight of the coop! They've been free range for the whole summer, but suddenly I may have to rethink it. We have ten acres so they won't be bothering anybody, but they could get eaten by something else - hawk, someone's dog....

    I suspect it might be an age thing. The ranging didn't start until two things happened, I got another flock that are separate but they can see, and the roo hit 16 weeks!

    Hopefully someone more experienced can help you more.
     
  3. seafood

    seafood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 12, 2008
    Ours free ranged for the first 4 months...and loved. Day by day they branch out further and further. Everything was great until they found my neighbors tomato's. Now they will be penned up until the garden is plowed under.

    Once I moved the chicks to the outdoor coop I left them in the coop for 3 or 4 days. Once they knew where home was they always came back.

    To me...chickens are pretty easy...and low maintanence. Having 3 or 4 chickens around is pretty fun...we have 10. Ideally I would cull the heard to about 5...seems more managable and less impacting the neighbors.

    The best part of the chickens was having them free range and just looking out the window and seeing "everyone" hanging around.
     
  4. thesoundd

    thesoundd New Egg

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    Aug 22, 2008
    Thanks for the information, every bit helps.

    Granting that the bantams are ok with our weather, they seem like a better choice for our yard. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that they tend to be a bit on the less noisy side. A long shot here, but has anyone notice that bantams roam more or less than their larger counterparts?

    Also, do you have a rough estimate of how far your chickens finally strayed from their coop?
     
  5. fullhouse

    fullhouse Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2008
    MI
    Chickens will go and go. Mine have gone well beyond the sight of the coop. Unless you want to be a boarder collie you need a fence or run. Also, your neighbors won't be too happy if their is chicken poo in their yards (or on their patio furniture).
     
  6. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Quote:Seafood makes a good point about locking the flock in the hen hosue for the first few days, so that they realize it is safe haven.

    One of our neighbors (1 1/2 miles away) has to get a new roo every year because the roo is either roadkill or killed by the local feral dog population. Their yard is not fenced in. They only keep the one bird - a roo - for bug control.

    Our birds forage our acreage, but it is completely fenced. They forage in the front and on the west side of the property daily. The hen house is not visible from either location, as it is blocked by greenery or the house.

    Quote:Depends if you are going to let them find their way in or if you need to get them locked up because you have to leave for any reason. Our flock always walk themselves back to the hen house at dusk. On the occasions we need to leave earlier, we either round them up or just lock up after our return. Like I said, we are completely fenced, and our Great Pyr guards the flock.

    Quote:Not sure, I don't have any bantams. I would say as long as their hen house is draft free, they should be good, but someone with bantam experience would be able to tell you for sure.
     
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2008
  7. pbjmaker

    pbjmaker Overrun With Chickens

    May 9, 2008
    Central Iowa
    Quote:I have 8 Mille Fleur D'Uccle (banties) and they roam waaaayyyy farther than my RIR and mixed rooster that are full sized. I live in the city and have found them at least 4 yards down. My two big chickens only go in the next door yard. They are getting fenced in this weekend...
     
  8. I have 12 RIR's and don't turn them out until around 3 o'clock, then they roam and roam and roam, but they do come home in time to go to bed just before dark, lost my last little biddy last week to DD dog that got out so yes they will roam and if you have neighbors they WILL complain about the amount of poop they have to avoid, so if any way possible would try to fence some of it to keep them safe. marrie
     
  9. I have WHAT in my yard?

    I have WHAT in my yard? Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    I found my chickens about three acres away today. [​IMG] Thought they were lost for sure.... They still seem to go home at dusk, but wrangling them in before that is not usually hard.

    My babies though are a different story!! Its rodeo time on the OK corral trying to get ten chicks to go to their rooms if they aren't good and ready. And even when they are. They know where their little coop is, they just don't want to go there! [​IMG]

    My daughter says if they put up that much fuss about going to bed they'd be in a heap of trouble! [​IMG]
     
  10. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    My birds stay within sight of what they consider home... that means their coop, the other birds, the house, and garden. They've gone everywhere but have yet to have one wander all 300 feet to the highway. They get spooked about half way down as they can't see any of the house structures anymore due to heavy woods.
     

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