Don't think I can free range...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by lm84, Dec 6, 2013.

  1. lm84

    lm84 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    5
    71
    Dec 3, 2013
    New Jersey
    I really would love to free range my future chickens I'm receiving in the spring, but just don't think I will be able to. I live on almost 5 acres, we have no close neighbors and we aren't near a road. It would have been perfect, except we are on top of a mountain and our house is in a clearing surrounded by trees. There are always many hawks circling the open space around my house on a daily basis. I don't even think its wise to try because I feel like they wouldn't stand a chance for even for one day. I'm sad to say I don't think I should free range, as much as I wanted to, unless I want to lose all my chickens in a day.
     
  2. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    2,087
    106
    251
    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    You'll never know unless you try. I'd let a rooster...a really fast one, and preferably one you don't really like be a test.

    I've had little silkies free range for over 10 years and never had a loss. After they turn 3 months old they go out without any problems.
    We have 3 acres mostly surrounded by woods. We see hawks but luckily they don't come in for a kill. We do have bird feeders which would seem like an instant invitation but actually the wild birds "tell" my chickens about threats, especially the crows and blue jays who are the best town criers.
     
  3. lm84

    lm84 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    5
    71
    Dec 3, 2013
    New Jersey
    We have a ton of crows too that go crazy when the hawks are around. I just think its too risky. At certain times during the day in the summer I can see 5-10 hawks circling above my house at once. I ordered all females, however if I accidentally get a rooster I will most likely keep it if it works out. But I have never had chickens before and am not sure what to expect.
     
  4. Crickett

    Crickett Chillin' With My Peeps

    1,404
    47
    181
    Apr 9, 2009
    Heart of Dixie
    Do you have a dog? Some dogs, if taught properly, will protect their charges against any perceived threats that may arise.
     
  5. suebee

    suebee Speaks Silkie Fluently

    2,087
    106
    251
    Apr 1, 2007
    N. Carolina
    Crickett, thanks for bringing that up. Our Golden Retriever will chase hawks if she see's them. No predators here thanks to her.
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,216
    2,202
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    This is a decision that only you can make. I live on a farm and we have hawks and bald eagles in our area. I have not had any hawk or eagle losses in all the years I've had chickens. Owls, yes. Furry predators, yes. But not the hawks. My theory is - we have lots and lots of wildlife out her - pheasants, gophers, mice, all kinds of prey and they keep the hawks content so they don't need to eat my chickens. Or the fact that the chickens free range near our shop and my husband is generally out and about, and the chickens have plenty of cover. I have seen them disappear when a large bird (hawk, eagle, vulture - they don't care) flies over. It's pretty comical. There is not a chicken to be seen until they think the threat is gone.
     
  7. ChickenDude101

    ChickenDude101 Out Of The Brooder

    34
    0
    32
    Aug 12, 2012
    This is true it is truly your decision, and your dog will be a great source of chasing off predators. I experienced my huge Delaware Roo chase off a fox so its probably a good Idea for a rooster just for extra protection.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    17,494
    2,151
    456
    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have to deal with hawks and it can be done using a range of methods. First is breed selection, go larger. Second is mixed sex flock where hawk may choose hens or chicks as targets but larger and aggressive rooster confuses hawk. Cover proved by low bushes also helps. Consider electrified poultry netting placed close to cover provided by bushes as that will complicate hawks hunting. In the end hawks will likely not be your biggest concern unless Goshawks are about. Dog could also be your friend but such costly.
     
  9. lm84

    lm84 Chillin' With My Peeps

    103
    5
    71
    Dec 3, 2013
    New Jersey
    Yeah, unfortunate we don't have a dog. And if we did we still wouldn't allow the dog to have free range because we have no fencing whatsoever around the property. Thank you for all the suggestions. There isn't much cover except for the surrounding woods. Other than that our house is smack dab in the middle of an open clearing with no trees and very few small bushes we have been planting to add some landscaping around the foundation of the house. I picked Buff Orpingtons, Wheaten Ameraucanas, Easter Eggers, Olive Eggers and Black Copper Marans. No bantams. So maybe if I get comfortable with the idea I can try it out...anyway I have a long time to decide before they come. It seems everyone around here has their chickens penned up, not free ranging. So I have no one to ask about their experience!
     
  10. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,216
    2,202
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Or, maybe their experience is why their chickens are all penned up....
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by