Does anyone else Free Range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Quack House, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. Quack House

    Quack House Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've seen and read a lot on here about coups and runs, but very little about free ranging. Mine are all out during the day and they head to the coup at night.

    Does anyone else do this?
     
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  2. lakens layers

    lakens layers New Egg

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    My pawpaw let's his out in the morning and by dark they are back in the pin all he does is closes the door. They don't go to the road and dogs don't seem to mess with them.
     
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  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Quack House and lakens layers - [​IMG]

    There are a lot of people here on BYC who free range. I am one of them. We let ours out after they are done laying for the day, and they put themselves in at night. When you free range, you do need to be prepared for some losses. They may not happen often, but eventually you will lose one or two. Until last summer, I'd gone 3 years without a loss. But we had to put our dog down in June, and DH and I went on vacation in July - we think it was coyotes that came through and took my rooster and a few hens the day before we were to return home. My mom had been doing chores. She let them out in the morning, had come over late afternoon to pick something up and a few hours later when she came to shut the coop that evening, the chickens were missing. There was one injured hen that they had to put down, and a few of my rooster's tailfeathers. I think whatever got them finally realized that there was no dog and hadn't been any human activity around the place for a while. I prefer to free range my chickens despite the chances of predators. I think it makes for happier, healthier birds.
     
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  4. Quack House

    Quack House Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They do seem to love foraging and scratching around the property. We have sixteen acres, with horse paddocks surrounding the barn and house area (where the chickens free range) I think that might deter the coyotes. Also we have three Germans Shepherds and two dachshunds that regularly pee the boundary line. The most wildlife I've seen around the barn is mice, and that's really only been recent. I think in part that is due to my cat being injured over winter.
    So if they free range then the housing doesn't need as much room, right? More just make sure they have nice nest boxes and roosts?

    I'm planning a coup inside the barn, not sure where, but it would be nice to have things central ~ especially in the winter when I'm in the barn doing chores anyway.

    I have ducks as well and they are pretty noisy. Slow movers, too and we haven't seen any nosy animals about, yet. It was a hard winter as well and I would think Coyotes would be bold by now.

    Maybe it's because we have so many dogs?

    Well, nice to know others do free range.
     
  5. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    They may not range in winter, depending on where you live and how much snow you get, so you may want to size your coop accordingly.
     
  6. Quack House

    Quack House Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That's true.
     
  7. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I free range although during winter all but six are confined. Consider making available patches of dense cover well away from property boundary. This will help keep them in a predictable foraging pattern making easier to monitor them. It also keeps them away from property boundary beyond which your dog's provide no help.
     
  8. Quack House

    Quack House Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the tips! I think the chickens would have to travel pretty far to get beyond the boundary. They mostly stay in the yard area, around the house, and buy the barn. Even still they would have to cross 2 acres on either side to leave the property. That's a hike.

    I'm a bit concerned the might 'cross the road' but they haven't yet.

    Here's the interior of the coup I was working on today. Now they have their own space and access ~ away from the ducks. I think they'll like that. :)

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  9. Bogtown Chick

    Bogtown Chick Overrun With Chickens

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    Oh they'll love those boxes!

    I free range too. I was up in the air about it...but I decided to let them have a more natural life...and of course they seem so happy to be let out each morning. I've taken 1 loss last fall with a new bird which was bantam and hooded (a silkie) I'm sure a bird of prey dipped down and picked her up. She was new...and the others were spending the day in the run (must have been a weather front that they stayed in) and they must have kicked her out of the run. Well anyways she didn't see her predator coming I'm sure. Pretty confident we had a hawk find her. I've seen them harass wild mallards nesting on the pot holes on the property. We are 5 1/2 acres of wooded boundaries, low spots...and a wide open 2-3 acres of lawn with sporadic mature pines, picnic table, deck and apple tree and landscaping to duck under. The chooks make their rounds...even over to the neighbors (who are only up on the weekends here in vacationland of MN)...but mostly forage in the brush and woods. We have a big red New Hampshire roo in which hawks have dive bombed but his size and keen eye for the sky have kept everybody under cover. I have one more silkie from a pair of hens I got last fall. He has not accepted her even being coop and run mates all winter. It will be interesting to see if she tags along with the crew or choses to stay in the run and coop. She's had a "Hair cut" on top so she can see pretty well. Plus she's pretty flighty and saavy. She's bonded with a couple of the hens... so we'll see. But I love it...I like looking out in the yard and seeing them have free will. The eggs are bright orange and the yellow lab sleeps on the deck with one eye open... Life is good free-ranging.

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    This is a photo off the internet...but I had a weasel last winter. Very small and young...but I noted blood on my rooster's leg on day. And then soon all the mice I had saw in the run during the winter were gone...and he disappeared too. And we had one Black Bear Sow visit and bust open some fencing and framework to my pop hole of the coop. She just had woken up and was raiding bird feeders in the area--just hungry after a long winter's nap. I was glad the girls were out of the coop already! LOL. Otherwise that's been it. The birds will be 2 April 13.

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    I've even built this free range nest box...if the girls are up at the house and don't want to truck all the way back down to the coop. LOL. It's portable and I can put it in fave spots...but this is where it has stayed for the most part. Centrally located for them.

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    Oh these pictures make me long for summer.... *sigh*... 6 months in a coop and run is too long for the chooks!

    Sorry to go on...I just feel blessed and lucky that I can give this to these fun creatures...chickens. Love Free Rangin'!
     
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  10. heartsizedfarm

    heartsizedfarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Ooooooo. Sorry to say it but that's a beautiful weasel! I had one several years ago come into the coop and threaten a hen on her nest. He or she wanted the eggs, not my hen, but she was broody and would not budge. She started squawking and squawking and I heard and came out and chased out the weasel, but I confess I thought him/her so beautiful and I was glad when he/she began to visit the suet bird feeders instead!
     
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