do all of you free rangers coop the ladies up in the bad weather?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cutlass1972, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    May 26, 2009
    I have had all of my hens cooped up basically since the foliage fell off the trees. They started huddling together in some tall grass and just sitting there until time to go in their coop anyway so I just quit letting them out in the morning.
    They have 2 nice heat lamps and fresh water every day I am doing the deep litter method and just adding more pine shavings every few days. I have been buying them things like the seed blocks for wild birds that hang just to keep them entertained. I am getting about 10 eggs per day out of 14 hens, so I think health wise they are fine. my coop is 8'x8'x8' with MANY roosts, and 5 externally hung 16"x16" nest boxes so all of the floor space is living room.


    I turned one hen out for about a half a day a few weeks ago because she went broody and I figured it would break the broodiness to be out for a day and a hawk got her on me (man I wish they where not protected). I am afrid since my girls cannot hide and pickings are slim (winter weather) that the hawks, raccoons, possums, skunks, and foxes would make short work of my flock.
     
  2. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    May 26, 2009
    LOL, what eats hawks? Do I need to order an eagle? Badger? Wolverine?
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  3. the4heathernsmom

    the4heathernsmom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2008
    east texas
    Well short of you staying right there with them the whole time you might be stuck and have to resort to a covered run. I don't know what to do about the hawks some people say well it is your livestock so legally you can boom boom then others say no you can't. I would rather err on the safe side so I haven't even though I wanted to. People have also said they will hang out and stay but here they seem to go away for a time then come back occasionally who knows if it is the same critter or not. I tried the hanging the cd's and stringing the fishing wire and neither worked for me. The only thing that has worked so far is when I have seen them going out there and waving my arms like a mad woman and slinging my net around and spewing not so nice words at them lol it wirked as a temporary fix. Sorry I am not much help!!!! [​IMG]
     
  4. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    May 26, 2009
    I can tell you for sure with absolute certainty that you CANNOT shoot hawks. I called the department of fish and wildlife and talked to them about it and they made it quite clear that hawks are federally protected and I cannot under any circumstances kill hawks or owls.

    I didn't have any problems with them when there where leaves on the trees. My hens hung out in the dense woods and I only lost one that I could not account for all last summer (other than the 6 that went missing all in one day with no traces, but I believe that was theft). Now that the leaves are off they just stand in a patch of dead grass that I didn't mow all last summer that seems to offer a minimal amount of windbreak. Like I said before that is when I decided to start cooping them up. It is not a problem as long as I change their water and clean the feeder after dark they don't want to go out, but during the day some of them REALLY want to dart around me and out the door. I feel bad for them, but after keeping them in the heated coop all winter I am afraid the cold will mess them up or a predator will get them.
     
  5. pkeeler

    pkeeler Chillin' With My Peeps

    559
    3
    131
    Jul 20, 2008
    Shamong
    When the leaves came off the trees, it sounds like it exposed the chickens to hawks. They knew it, and hid in what cover they could find (the large grass). Sounds like there is not much cover in your yard. Chickens can learn to avoid hawks, but they need someplace to run under. They don't use the coop for this, in my experience. If you can plant some large shrubs, or if you have an elevated deck you can create an opening under it. In a pinch, I would try stringing netting 3-4' off the ground. Put leaves and sticks on top, kind of a man made bush.

    Some other general hawk tips:

    1. keep roosters (won't work without cover)
    2. move waterers around and keep them in/next to cover
    3. have lots of cover
    4. I believe feeding song birds (and squirrels) will help when the chickens learn to recognize their hawk warning calls.

    But as to your topic question, yes I let the chickens out in bad weather.
     
  6. I have WHAT in my yard?

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

    Jun 24, 2008
    Eggberg, PA
    I started keeping my hens in this fall when I realized I had a mating pair of hawks on my property. In the summer they seemed to have enough options that they didn't bother the hens too much. I have a roo and lots of cover so it worked, but once the leaves fell and food got scarce we were in trouble. And the foxes got more aggressive too. So, no we have not been letting them free range. And boy are they annoyed about it! LOL!! [​IMG]
     
  7. neuchicontheblock

    neuchicontheblock Chillin' With My Peeps

    222
    0
    109
    May 23, 2009
    I keep the ladies and gents in when it is horrific out...snowy, windy, but if it's just cold, no. They go out and wander around, get on the hood of my truck, wait for me at the door, hide under the planters in the driveway, bother the cooped in banties. Just a bunch of trouble making snots.
     
  8. cutlass1972

    cutlass1972 Chillin' With My Peeps

    261
    0
    119
    May 26, 2009
    this might sound stupid, but does walking around in snow not hurt their feet?
     
  9. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    Mine are always out but I have yet to have a predator prob. The snow does not seem to hurt their feet and if they get cold they just go back in for awhile. I just shovel an area about 15x15 when it snows alot so that they can get out of the deep snow and hang out outside.
     
  10. curliet

    curliet Chillin' With My Peeps

    535
    0
    149
    Apr 22, 2008
    west Michigan
    There is a lot more risk from predators once the leaves and cover is gone, and when the weather gets colder all those meat eaters are looking for more protein as well. So they have the option to free range, but I notice that they stick much closer to the coop, and other things that they can get under quickly.
    As for the weather, my girls just don't seem to like getting their feet cold. I do give them the option to come out sometimes when I can be there to watch them, but they have a tendency to try to get on top of things that they shouldn't be on. Like the fence,,and then the next step is leaving the yard. Can't have that. And they really, really, realy don't want to let their feet get in the snow. So, my chooks do remain inside most of the time during the winter.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by