Coop and Run question

compoundchick

Hatching
May 24, 2017
2
0
4
My husband and I are new to raising chickens. 3 weeks ago we got 6 sweet baby chicks and had a coop built. We put it in a structure that we had intended to make the run. My husband wants to just lock up the chickens in the coop at night without securing the run with chicken wire and I am worried they will get eaten by something. The coop is well built, and appears secure with a couple of locks. We live in the woods on 3 acres. Does anyone let their chickens roam free during the day on their property while gone or have a coop without a run? I don't want anything to happen to them. Thanks in advance for any advice!
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,524
20,817
907
Southeast Louisiana
Some people do. I grew up on a farm where my parents did exactly that. I can only remember two predator attacks in al hose years, a fox and a dog. Both were shot.

Any time you let them free range they are at risk. it's possible you could go years without a problem, it's possible they could be wiped out the first day.

Your biggest risk is at night, I use a strategy of keeping then reasonably secure during the day and safely locked up at night. It works pretty well but I do recognize their is a risk during the day. While many predators are most active at night, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, dogs, hawks and many other predators are often hunting during the day.

Some people will tell you that chicken wire offers no protection. That is incorrect, it does offer some protection against many critters. But some larger animals like a large dog, a large raccoon, or a coyote can tear chicken wire. They can tear hardware cloth too if they can get a grip on it, but most hardware cloth is safer than chicken wire.

My suggestion is to build a run that offers at least some protection. That way if you run into a problem you have a somewhat safe place to put them while you deal with that problem. The safer you make that area the more it will cost. And I certainly recommend locking them safely in the coop at night.
 

compoundchick

Hatching
May 24, 2017
2
0
4
Some people do. I grew up on a farm where my parents did exactly that. I can only remember two predator attacks in al hose years, a fox and a dog. Both were shot.

Any time you let them free range they are at risk. it's possible you could go years without a problem, it's possible they could be wiped out the first day.

Your biggest risk is at night, I use a strategy of keeping then reasonably secure during the day and safely locked up at night. It works pretty well but I do recognize their is a risk during the day. While many predators are most active at night, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, dogs, hawks and many other predators are often hunting during the day.

Some people will tell you that chicken wire offers no protection. That is incorrect, it does offer some protection against many critters. But some larger animals like a large dog, a large raccoon, or a coyote can tear chicken wire. They can tear hardware cloth too if they can get a grip on it, but most hardware cloth is safer than chicken wire.

My suggestion is to build a run that offers at least some protection. That way if you run into a problem you have a somewhat safe place to put them while you deal with that problem. The safer you make that area the more it will cost. And I certainly recommend locking them safely in the coop at night.

Thank you Ridgerunner! I really appreciate your advice.
 

CDcluck

In the Brooder
7 Years
Sep 29, 2012
42
8
29
northern Virginia
Generally speaking, at a minimum you want a really secure coop and a secure-enough run to discourage daytime predators. When gauging your daytime predator risk, consider the cover available to the birds, the cover available to the predators, how much human activity there is in the immediate area, and how bold local predators are likely to be.

I've known busy horseback riding stables that have let chickens free range for years without losses- the mix of constant human activity, inhospitable to ground predators environment, and abundant cover from aerial predators kept the birds safe.

If you are in a semi-isolated area where a predator can observe your routine and wait for you to walk to the mailbox to wipe out your free range flock, you would want a run that will make the fox hesitate long enough for you to get back. Especially in the outer suburbs where foxes and such quickly learn to be inconspicuous but unafraid of being preyed upon themselves.

I've never had a truly free range flock last longer than 6 months. What has happened where I am each time is that there will be no losses for months on end, then a near-total or total wipeout via land predator in broad daylight on a summer afternoon. Twenty minutes is plenty enough time to lose a dozen birds, even in a free range situation where they can run/flap away.
 

jeria

Songster
May 5, 2017
1,390
1,773
236
Independence MO
Chicks on the way next week. FYI I live in a pretty quiet neighborhood with a rarely used wooded area of a park behind my house, there is rarely anyone outside in their backyards during the day, either elderly or working (like me). So for me a pretty secure coop is about to be built. Hawks, Eagles, Foxes, Raccoons, Possums, Feral cats, Dogs and kids.
 

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