do you stay with your flock while free ranging?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bosoxbratt, Jun 30, 2010.

  1. bosoxbratt

    bosoxbratt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2009
    Hi there
    I was wondering how you guys manage your chickens when they are free ranging? WE have 16 and have just started letting them out of their coop/run for about 1-2 hours before dusk in our fenced in back yard but we are sitting out there with them as I am afraid a hawk could come and grab one I am not sure if they would cause they are bigger they are red sexlinks and golden comets and we have white jersey giants and barred rocks but I am overly protective and want to do what is right for them so I just plan on sitting out there with them..the thought has crossed my mind to let them out during the day as well just not sure this is wise I have not seen any hawks as of late but know we do get them from time to time sometimes we have buzards flying around but I don't think they would do anything :)

    Thanks for any info :)
  2. myminicooper

    myminicooper Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2010
    San Fernando Valley
    I let my girls free range the whole fenced back yard during the day...while I'm home. If I leave I lock them back in the run, but I have large trees and lots of places to hide. I peek out often to see where they are and do a head count and so far haven't had any problems. If I see any hawks though I will lock them up until they pass.
  3. PhilErvin

    PhilErvin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 11, 2009
    Yucaipa, CA
    Glad to hear that you are doing your best to insure their safety. I was worried when I first let mine out to freerange for the day.
    The first time I let them out was on a Saturday so that I could keep an I on them. They did well so I started letting them out during the weekdays, I get home around 2 p.m. [​IMG]
  4. bosoxbratt

    bosoxbratt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2009
    we have some big maple trees and the fence is lined with some tall bushes not that they can hide in them but it keeps the outside of the fence kind of hidden a little ..I am just leary letting them have at it alone :-( they have fluttered while we have been out there and they dont seem to get very high up where they can get over the fence I am just paranoid maybe??? LOL

    I want to do what is right for them and 1-2 hours a day free ranging i am not sure if that is fair or ggod enough for them they seem happy with it :)
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    You sound like me at first. I have a little over six acres, surrounded by woods. I've got a flock right now of 19 chickens. Anyhow, I first started out with three little hens, and I started letting them free range for a little bit each evening. THEY LOVE IT SO MUCH! If they're contained, they just pace and pace. Anyhow, I lost one to a hawk....I was devastated. Bought FOUR more to replace the one.....and the rest is history. I'm up to 19! LOL I did lose another young cockerel to a hawk this year. So I've lost 2.

    At first, when I lost the little pullet, I wouldn't let them out unless I was watching them. So they were locked up quite a bit. Well, finally I decided that, I'd rather them be happy and maybe life a shorter life because of the risks of predators, than live a long long life caged up.

    So now, they get to free range after work, which is around 5:30pm, until dusk, and while I'm outside quite a bit, I don't always watch them. I do watch the skies before I first let them out......if I don't see hawks, they get to come outside. They're not allowed to free range if I'm not home though, usually. It's been working out very well this year.
  6. bosoxbratt

    bosoxbratt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2009
    Ty all for responding so quickly :)

    I find myself when we are driving around looking for chickens and then if we spot some looking for any people around to see if they are watching them LOL
    There is one house where the chickens seem to have a wide range and no one is ever around them and they are in a open field so I think maybe IF they can do it there we can do it here ? but then again I treat my chickens like pets and maybe they don't? LOL

    We only wanted about 5 chickens but when we went to get them we were told we should plan on losing some of them due to stress of shipment or other probs that could arise so some how we got 16! and we still have every single one of them LOL
    the guy who helped us always asks how they are doing when he sees us and will comment how it is odd we have not lost any but that is good lol

    maybe it is best to do what we are doing and let them out for an hour or two then maybe up it later on as we go? LOL my critters are all so spoiled I just don't want anything to get the chickens if I am inside and they are outside
  7. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I was exactly like that for the first two months of free ranging in my back yard. There is a lot of tree cover, plus they go back into the run a lot, for their feed and to lay eggs. In the past month, I've started letting them free range even while I'm at work all day. Yes, I do a head count when I get home, but it's easy to do so - they ALL come running when I get home! (I always give them treats then.)

    I even started opening the gate - on the weekends - into the third of an acre of open pasture attached to my part of the property where I rent. Only twice have any chickens ventured out that gate, and the rooster brought them back in!!

    I have two Cayuga ducks, too, who are part of the whole flock. It's very interesting to watch all the birds when any one of them sees something in the sky. Before too long, they're all tilting their heads to look upwards, standing stock still. So far, just crows, a helicopter and some airplanes way up there. I haven't seen anybody take off running - EXCEPT to chase a blue jay out of the yard!!!

    A couple of the hens chase sparrows away, too.
  8. PhilErvin

    PhilErvin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 11, 2009
    Yucaipa, CA
    I forgot to ask if you have a Rooster. My roo is so protective if a predator goes for his girls he will fight to the death. My dog grabed a hen and my roo jumped right on his back and gve him what for. He let go of the hen and grabbed the roo around the neck, [​IMG] fortunatly my son got the roo away from the dog without any harm to the roo. So roos can be very fearce.
  9. Oven Ready

    Oven Ready Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Ours get out the coop at sun-up, around 5-5:30am and they all (mostly) go back in the coop around dusk at 6:30pm. We have about 4 acres that they roam over so even though I'm home most days I can't see them all time.

    We do lose some to hawks, dogs & cats but it's all part of them having a normal, wild chicken, life. We do what we can to protect them and the wild birds often give warnings of predators which has me running out to see what's going on. Cockerels do help, when they spot a hawk they let out a 'everybody get close to your mum and then nobody move' screech. It doesn't take long to get used to the noises your flock make in their normal daily lives.

    We do a rough head count at night, but it's hard with over 70 birds and so many of them look exactly the same. I always check our 'special needs chickens' (you know - the ones that have that little something extra about them).

    Sometimes they spend all day out unsupervised, but we always close up the coop at night (or if we are out a neighbor will do it for us). If an adult bird decides to sleep outside the coop that's OK as long as they are not on the ground - on the roof is fine or up a tree. There's little point letting them free range when they are sleeping.

    If you really need to gather them all together, get them conditioned to hearing a noise like clanking a feed bucket and when they come give them some food. They quickly get into the routine.

    It's lovely to see them just being natural.
  10. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Basically, the more they are out, the more likely to lose one to a hawk at some point. Even if you are right there (although that may make it *a bit* less likely).

    You just have to decide where you stand, where your personal tastes guide you, in terms of the risks vs rewards of freedom.

    At present, I let the miscellaneous hens (and their cockerel) loose for about half the day, and if I lose one then so be it; but the sussexes, which are my breeding project, stay in their (reasonably ample) roofed run. But, everyone's different.

    Good luck, have fun,


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