Flock has to be moved from free range to run...any suggestions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by babsterh, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. babsterh

    babsterh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We started out with 9 hens that loved to free range on our 3 acres. We've had a possum attack, dog attack and we lost 2 more of our babies yesterday. To say that we are devastated is not even close to how we really feel. We came home and found several feathers by our garden, no bodies just feathers. We suspect that this was either a fox, hawk or bald eagle. With all of trauma to our girls, we've decided to enlarge the run and keep them locked up for their safety. Has anyone successfully moved free ranging girls back in to the run? I would really appreciate any guidance that you could lend. I want to replenish our little flock but not until we have them as secure as can be. Thank you for your help
     
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Many of us have been there. And your birds will adjust just fine. They may try and sneak out as soon as you open the gate, but within very few days they will just be comfortable inside the run, if you have enough room.

    Some pointers on free ranging and predators:
    Once they find you, they come back..... and back! ugh!
    A mature rooster can be a help! But large dogs or coyotes are too big for him.
    I have found that if I vary the time I let them out, it helps, predators pick up on routines
    Always call your birds, (even if they are standing right there) when you feed them, they'll come running when you call, an easy way to round them back into the run if they get out.

    The last 2 years, I had a great rooster, and my predation disappeared. Then something got my roo, we were going into winter, and mine spend a lot of the winter locked up. The replacement roo was just a jerk, so I went all summer roo less, and the predation was TERRIBLE. To the point, I just left them in the run most of the time. This time I think I have a group of young coyotes, hanging around....ugh!

    I have a real nice large rooster just coming into maturity, so have high hopes for this spring/summer. I love to let them out to scratch, but it is a real risk.

    Mrs K
     
  3. ChickenLegs13

    ChickenLegs13 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    They might be antsy and hang out by the door & pace the fence for several days saying "WHAAH whah whah whah" but they'll soon settle down.
     
  4. chicksurreal

    chicksurreal Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry to hear about your losses, it's always so sad and hard to deal with. [​IMG]

    We had a bobcat get two of our roos within 3 weeks (during daylight hours), so we have had to cut back on the free range time, they were free ranging from about 10:00 AM until 5:00 PM, now it's been cut in half or less.

    I am fortunate enough to be able to spend hours every day with my flock, so they do get to go out, but we are in the process of enlarging their run so that they will be comfortable even when we can't let them out, they are used to being able to roam over 5 acres. They hate to be penned up right now in a 80 sq ft run and I'm hoping that giving them about 2000 sq ft will make them feel like they have plenty of space when they are penned.

    We're enclosing a large portion of the space that they like to roam in anyway, so I think that will help. We're also planning on planting things in the run that they can get under for shade and safety. We'll be covering the top of the run as well because they can fly and we do have hawks in the area, but I think they like to feel hidden under bushes and trees, they spend lots of their free range time in our scrub oak and under cedar trees.

    I think you can't go wrong with giving them as much space as you can manage.
     
  5. babsterh

    babsterh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really appreciate your thoughtful responses. Since the flock is down to 5 the run space should be adequate for now. When my husband has a chance to extend the run we'll increase the flock. I agree, I think my girls would love to have bushes and trees in their run. Our plan is to incorporate the trunk of an old oak tree, plant grapes and blueberries for their pleasure! I would really like to get a roo, but that's not possible just now due to our sound sensitive neighbors. As I write this I am looking at the run, it breaks my heart to see them out there "cooped" up. I did give them salmon for breakfast to soften the blow a bit...plus I think they're still in shock from the loss of their sisters.

    You all have a wonderful day...and thank you once again
     
  6. bahamabanty

    bahamabanty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If thats the run in your avatar I think they will be ok, that looks like a beautiful coop and run
     
  7. babsterh

    babsterh Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes Bahama, that is the coop and run. Thanks for the compliment, my wonderful husband did a great job. I am so envious...you're in the Bahamas? So fortunate, we're expecting snow today with a high of 22 degrees tomorrow!! Take care!
     
  8. bahamabanty

    bahamabanty Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes, its a chilly 72 today lol. Its usually in the mid 80's so this is what we call a cold front. At night its around 54 I was actually worried if my chickens would be cold. I bet that sounds weird but its really cold for us lol. Yeah how big is your run?
    Mine are cooped up in a run too, because of stray dogs that sometimes crawl under my fence into my yard. The run its about 20' by 16', they seem to be ok. I have 3 hens, more soon hopefully (9 eggs in the incubator, I hope they hatch in 2 weeks) Besides chicken feed I feed them table scraps, left over veggies etc. I pick weeds and sometimes dig up a whole piece of turf for them to rip to shreds. I fill up the run with dry leaves from my yard, they love that too, scratching all day. It doesnt have to be boring in the run.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2014
  9. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I re-confined (re-ran [​IMG]?) my flock a few years ago, not due to predators but due to too much chicken poop on the porch [​IMG]. I can honestly say it bugged me more than it did them! I mean, yes, they fussed some and carried on at the door to the run, but it seemed to be more out of habit, not a real burning desire to be out. Having distractions in the run is a good idea. I keep sections of log and pieces of plywood on the ground in mine, and go out every so often and flip them over to let the flock scratch the bugs that built up underneath. I also don't use a feeder for my oyster shell or grit, they just get tossed on the floor of the run and the birds happily spend time scratching around for them.
     
  10. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I haven't found a solution for bobcats except for an on duty guard dog. My geese keep air bombers at bay and a perimeter fence deters dogs, coyotes and such. But, they'll adjust quickly.
     

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