Free Range Chickebs safely

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by hiddenchicks, Mar 8, 2016.

  1. hiddenchicks

    hiddenchicks New Egg

    Mar 24, 2015
    Hi. I wrote to you guys a couple days ago about not being able to process my chickens. You were all very helpful and kind and I thank you again. My next question is how can I free range my chickens in our pasture safely? We do have hawks abound here. Would a rooster be able to handle a hawk? I don't want him to get hurt either. Thank you. Beth PS. I am "new again" member. Looking forward to getting reacquainted with everyone. Hiddenchicks
  2. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC.
    A rooster will potentially alert the flock to a threat, but as far as "defending" them against that threat - he is simply another target and would just as easily become lunch to the threat as any of the hens....if he did successfully defend them in a fight he would, at the very least, be injured.
    Free ranging and "safely" are somewhat mutually exclusive - in that if you truly free range your birds (outside of an enclosed area - including overhead) there is a risk of bird loss. There are things you can do to reduce the threat, though. Is your pasture open and devoid of trees/brush? If so, you need to provide some shelter areas the birds can go to for saftey if a threat is detected - this can be as simple as pallets that are set up on blocks to allow the flock to go under them, etc. Chickens know they are prey animals and will naturally seek cover.
    Is your pasture fenced in a way that will protect from ground based predators?
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2016
  3. hiddenchicks

    hiddenchicks New Egg

    Mar 24, 2015
    Thank you for your answer. I may do that. Are there many out there that believe in free range? If so, what kind of experiences have you had? Beth
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    Lots of us free range - either all or part of the time.
    For my flock, they are out at least part of each day. I only let them out when we are home because there are several dogs in our area (we are out of town so it's not really a "neighborhood") who are allowed to roam loose at all times and have little respect for property lines - and because I feel an obligation to keep my birds from being a nuisance to others (our pasture is horse fenced, not chicken fenced, lol). In the 2+ years we've had this flock I have not lost one bird to predation. The flock I have now has access to a large open pasture that backs up onto a wooded area. They definitely prefer the cover offered by staying closer to the wooded area, the area near the house and the area near shrubbery the neighbor has along one side of our pasture -- you can easily see the discomfort of a large, open space in their preferences. A couple of shelter options in the more open areas has given them a greater comfort level in making use of more of the area.

    Prior to having our flock here I had chickens for years on a farm in the mountains of Idaho - that flock, too, was free ranged, in fact they were free all day/every day, and we lost maybe 3 birds in nearly 10 years to predation.
  5. Adalida

    Adalida Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 21, 2015
    I only let mine free range when I'm at home. I'm very rural but the main worry around here is dogs. Everyone near me who has had free range chickens, has lost some to dogs. Unfortunately there's some vacation homes around here where people have the mentality of "we're out in the country, let the dogs run free!" We do have lots of other predators too, I shot a coyote going after the flock, and lost one chicken to a bear. I feel safer letting them out when I'm at home because at least if something happens, I can save the rest of them.
    I agree with Ol Grey Mare on giving your birds cover. I live in a wooded area and my birds literally sprint through the open spaces to get to areas they feel safer. They really don't range too far from the house (probably because I periodically come out with treats!) But boy do they love to free range. They are far far happier out exploring, scratching around under the trees and taking dust baths.
  6. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO. Premium Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us! :)
  7. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    You could do a lot to safeguard your flock, if you had well trained and acclimated (to chickens_ Livestock guardian dogs - they live with the flock and are generally raised with them since puppyhood.- so they will protect them. But even then one or two dogs could not handle a pack of coyotes, etc.
  8. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013

    You've been given some great advice so I'll just say hello and it's nice to have you here!

    P.S. My chickens have a very large covered run but I do let them out 2 or 3 times a day when I'm outside. We have a lot of hawks, dogs and assorted other predators in the area.
  9. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Hi and welcome to BYC - i free range my little flock in my garden during daylight hours. theres lots of shrubs / trees etc for cover and I have lost a couple of 3 month old chaps to hawks in the past year or so, and thats a loss that i consider acceptable.


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