Do they NEED to free-range?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by skatcatla, Jan 23, 2008.

  1. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    Right now my girls have been let have the run of my small yard all day. They clearly love this...BUT....its not so great for us. Its now impossible to step outside the kitchen door, onto our deck or to do laundry without risking stepping in chicken poo. I hose it off at least once a week but I might as well not even bother.

    So, I need to start restricting them. I have a small yard, so I don't have a way to give them a lot of roaming room. The only good thing about giving them the whole yard is that they haven't done a lot of damage to any one part of it. I'm worried that confining them to the lawn means no more lawn.

    Do you think an 8' by 3' run, along with limiting their free-ranging time to just an hour a day is enough?
  2. There is an easier way to clean up chicken poo....get a dog! [​IMG]

    Now the cheeeckens......they can be free!!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2008
  3. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    Quote:I have a dog already. She has no interest in eating the poo, (just stepping in it) although she will gladly snork down their feed if she can reach it. [​IMG]
  4. Wildsky

    Wildsky Wild Egg!

    Oct 13, 2007
    How many chickens do you have? Not sure if your run would be big enough or not, and how big is your coop?

    No they don't NEED to free-range, you might find they do get a little annoyed if you try to keep them in now after they've had free run of the place.
  5. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    Quote:I have only four girls. The run is 8' x 3', and then there will be another 4 x 5 feet of space UNDER the new coop. Which is, of course, 4x5. So all together 20 sq feet in the coop, and 44 sq feet of run space.

    Technically I think its plenty of space, but I'm afraid you are right about them being spoiled with having so much freedom right now. I probably should have never let them have so much.
  6. s6bee

    s6bee Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I got my hens last summer, and I keep them in a run since I'm in the suburbs. Anyway, I did start letting them out when the weather was nice about 1 hour before sundown. However, they do try and get out to the "other side" whenever I go in the run. I have 5 hens and your run sounds about the same size as mine. I plan on making a larger one this summer though. It just seems like they need more room even though they have a required amount.
  7. backyardgirls

    backyardgirls In the Brooder

    Jun 13, 2007
    Bakersfield, CA
    I had the exact same problem. My patio looked like a mine field! I started letting them out first thing in the morning before work and then luring them back into the run with treats for the rest of the day.

    They complained alot for the first few weeks until they got used to the schedule. Now in the morning they are so anxious to get to the flowerbeds they don't hang around on the patio as much..... so less chicken poo. [​IMG]
    They still get to free range and I can manage the yard cleanup
  8. skatcatla

    skatcatla Songster

    Jun 26, 2007
    Quote:That's what I used to do too, and need to go back to it! Glad to know they will only complain for a few weeks. :-D

    A lot of it is my own fault. They learned immediately that if they came to the kitchen door, I might give them a treat. Now of course anytime they see us in the kitchen they come running to the door and hang around waiting for a handout! I can't believe I didn't see THAT coming. Duh.

    *smacks forehead*
  9. chickchick

    chickchick In the Brooder

    Nov 13, 2007
    Portland, Oregon
    To the original post,

    I have the exact same problem. There is so much chicken poo that my kids can't use the backyard and I won't be able to garden at all...

    so my solution is to make a pen aroud the coop and run so that they can be somewhat free but still be confined to an area. I am using metal stakes with chicken wire. so it will be real cheap and easy to put up.

    I've also had to restrict their being out, but I think they actually benefit from some restriction, as long as they have stuff to do and don't get bored.

    best of luck, and I hope the rain washed the poo away soon!
  10. Oblio13

    Oblio13 Songster

    Jan 26, 2008
    New Hampshire
    You sound like a candidate for a chicken tractor or two.

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