Does this make me a terrible chicken owner?

klohman

In the Brooder
Mar 9, 2015
60
4
41
Illinois
We have a flock of 21 birds with plenty of coop and run space. They have been allowed to free range pretty much every day, all afternoon and evening. It's getting to the point though, that they are destroying everything in my yard and garden, and starting to make me resent them for it. It's gotten to the point I've even thought about getting rid of them, but I really don't want to do that when I'm not completely agitated.

It's silly, but can someone please reassure me that I can have happy, healthy chickens that live solely in a coop/run??
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I just don't think I can handle letting them have the run of my land anymore. I've put way to much time, energy, work and money into my landscaping, garden and yard.

Can anyone relate??
 

DylansMom

RIP 1969-2017
6 Years
Jan 10, 2014
3,742
585
248
PA
We have a flock of 21 birds with plenty of coop and run space. They have been allowed to free range pretty much every day, all afternoon and evening. It's getting to the point though, that they are destroying everything in my yard and garden, and starting to make me resent them for it. It's gotten to the point I've even thought about getting rid of them, but I really don't want to do that when I'm not completely agitated.

It's silly, but can someone please reassure me that I can have happy, healthy chickens that live solely in a coop/run??
sad.png

I just don't think I can handle letting them have the run of my land anymore. I've put way to much time, energy, work and money into my landscaping, garden and yard.

Can anyone relate??

I can totally relate! My neighbors started a backyard free range flock about 3 years ago and they ended up free ranging in our flowerbeds. I think there were about 20 when they started, the neighbors are good people and when they realized what was going on they came over and talked to us. We decided on a course of action which involved them keeping the chickens penned when nobody was around to keep an eye on them, and when they did venture over here our son got to practice kicking his soccer balls in their direction. Between these 2 things they pretty much learned to stay at home. I decided last year that I wanted a couple of my own, but after that experience I knew it had to be a couple. We have a Roo and 4 hens and they are 100% free range and after a year they have yet to destroy anything landscape-wise. Maybe limit their free range time, then they are not penned all the time, but not out enough to do too much damage....happy medium?
 

sophiaw00

Songster
Apr 27, 2015
548
45
108
Illinois
How big is your coop? How big is your run? I have 8 chickens (2 more coming in June) and here's my plan: right now, they are young so they will be kept in their coop during the day and let into their run when I get home from school at 3. It's been working marveously so far. Next spring, when they are a year old, they will be let out into the run at 7 AM when I wake up and then allowed to free range when I get home from school at 3. In the winter, free range time will only be allowed when there is no snow on the ground. Otherwise, they will remain in the run and coop all day. I'm sure they will be happy with this system.

Maybe you could limit your free range time to only when you are outside with them or doing your chores in the garden? Otherwise if the run is big enough, they will be just fine.
 

ChickenMammX4

Songster
Mar 17, 2015
1,044
243
161
SW Ohio
Then I'm a bad chicken owner too. Our chickens will never free range due to the fact our coop/run is not near our house (around 100 yards - behind the barn) and we have too many day/night time predators. The have a large, covered run. I bring them fresh grass everyday so they get their greens.
 

thomasboyle

Songster
7 Years
Feb 28, 2013
935
317
186
NW Hills of CT
I manage my chickens free range time to that they don't strip mine the yard. I wait until the grass has come in fully in the spring before letting them out. They will get their first taste of freedom this coming weekend. As the grass is growing strong, I let them out when I get home from work until sunset. They get 2-3 hours of free range time, and the yard does not get wiped out. If the grass starts getting stripped, I let them out every other day, and I bring in a sprinkler to help the grass grow. By managing their free time, I can keep their 1/2 acre yard green year round.
 

Sabz

Songster
6 Years
Mar 27, 2013
487
34
111
Quebec, Canada
Do you need those 21 chickens?

I have 6 and they cannot destroy my lawn. When I have the flock of meat birds though, and I grow the flock to 30-35 birds, then they destroy!

I find that 6 is a good number for the size of lawn + veggie garden that I have. Maybe you can find the right balance if you don't want to keep them indoors :)

EDIT: oh, something else comes to mind. Try to learn why they destroy.
I know that mine will dig for bugs - they don't touch the veggies unless it's spring and everything is still frozen from winter except the lettuce in my garden. Then they'll eat the lettuce.

So if you learn that they like bugs, you can get some mealworms or any other type of worms and raise those to give the chickens. You can take a litter box pan (well, anything else..) and put some wood chips, dirt, etc in there. Then sprinkle with worms and let the chickens tare it appart.

If you find they like a special kind of plant, grow a patch just for them and put fences around the landscapes / gardens?

Of course, raising mealworms for 21 chickens will require lots of worms BUT they require very little care and they reproduce rather easily.
 
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klohman

In the Brooder
Mar 9, 2015
60
4
41
Illinois
Do you need those 21 chickens?

I have 6 and they cannot destroy my lawn. When I have the flock of meat birds though, and I grow the flock to 30-35 birds, then they destroy!

I find that 6 is a good number for the size of lawn + veggie garden that I have. Maybe you can find the right balance if you don't want to keep them indoors :)
Sabz, it's really funny that you posted this. I hadn't even looked at this thread in a few days but the conclusion my husband and I came to was exactly that!
Chicken keeping has become much more of a chore than the fun hobby it started out as. That being said, we are going to let them range and destroy to their hearts content through this summer, then in the fall we are going to reduce our coop to our 6 youngest birds (5 months old now) and probably end up culling the rest. They will all be over 2 years old by then, and the oldest few have already begun lessening in egg production.

I think it's time we get back to our chickens being enjoyable rather than frustrating!
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,032
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
While I see you have come to a decision, I do want to say that yes, it is entirely possible that you can keep your birds confined to the coop/run and have happy, healthy birds.
 

klohman

In the Brooder
Mar 9, 2015
60
4
41
Illinois
Ol Grey Mare, thanks. Once we downsize their time outside the coop and run will be much more limited. I think my biggest reservation is keeping all 21 inside right now, I don't want them to be too crowded. Even though our square footage says its acceptable, I know I wouldn't want to be squished in a box forever with 20 siblings!
 

Ol Grey Mare

One egg shy of a full carton. .....
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
20,622
15,032
821
Oregon
My Coop
My Coop
How much property do you have? Our coop/run is at the far back side of our horse pasture (it's part of the barn). It sits far enough away from the house that even when we do let the birds out (they are primarily confined - ranging time is only when someone is willing/able to go out and be with them due to a)current pasture fence not being sufficient to keep them out of immediate neighbor's yard and b) being surrounded by folks with dogs who are allowed to roam and would pose potential threat to our birds....which means they can go days/weeks between ranging periods depending on our schedules, weather, etc) they don't come towards the house. They are happy as little clams scratching and pecking in the area around their run, all over the pasture and back into our woods beyond the fence. They are essentially only occupying about 1/3 of our entire property, have never even set foot in the front or back yard areas. Is your property such that you could determine what portion is yard/garden and must be chicken free but would still leave area outside of the run that you could allow them access to so that you would not feel (needless) guilt about keeping them in the run all the time?
 

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