Free Range Coop question

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Nebrooster, Apr 19, 2019.

  1. Nebrooster

    Nebrooster Hatching

    Apr 19, 2019
    I'm brand new to chickens. We have 80 acres with a home on it that we use as a cabin. We are generally there multiple times a week. I'm building a chicken coop that is 4x8. I'd like to allow the chickens to free range but also a safe place to stay. I was wondering if anyone has had any luck with a fenced in run that allowed the chickens to fly in and out as they please? Was thinking of putting electric fence around it to keep predators out. Any thoughts? TIA! Right now we have 9 week old chicks and 4 ducks.
  2. Predators can jump over any fence that a chicken can fly over. And that doesn't include the hawks/eagles/raptors that will just eat your chickens both inside and outside the run. How are you planning to close the coop each night? Automatic door?
    NightingaleJen and Al Capon like this.
  3. Nebrooster

    Nebrooster Hatching

    Apr 19, 2019
    My plan was to allow them free range. The electric fence will keep the ground based predators out. I didn't know if a 4' fence would allow them to fly over and back in as they please or not. Thank-you
  4. kwhites634

    kwhites634 Slow hands & an easy touch

    You'll be creating a monster by encouraging your birds to fly out at will.
    NightingaleJen and aart like this.
  5. "free range" does not mean "sleep in a coop with an open door". Not sure if that is what you are proposing? That is why I was asking how you planned to close them in each night.

    A 4 foot fence would allow them to fly in and out. For most breeds of chicken. Not the super heavy ones though.

    A 4 foot fence will not keep out land based predators. A coyote can easily clear a 6 foot fence. Yes, a raccoon or opossum is not going to jump the electric fence, but a coyote will.
  6. Nebrooster

    Nebrooster Hatching

    Apr 19, 2019
    I guess in my research i was finding that if you give them a coop with feed and keep them in there and a run until they start laying they will come back each night. I'm completely new to this so I don't know if that's true or not. My plan was to put them in an enclosed run until they start laying and then allow them free range while we are there for a while. Then completely free. Maybe it won't work. I hunt and trap predators out here all winter long. Not much for coyotes here, more possum and coon than anything. Is my plan not going to work?
    Ghosty likes this.
  7. HenOnAJuneBug

    HenOnAJuneBug Crowing

    May 20, 2015
    Openings that allow chickens to fly out also allow hawks to fly in (and possibly climbing critters too). If you allow your chickens to free range, and you are not there to protect them when they are free ranging, I doubt they will last.
  8. LizzzyJo

    LizzzyJo Songster

    Dec 14, 2018
    Northwest Ohio
    I would worry about the splitting of total free range and total coop life. When total free ranging, the chickens sleep in trees and learn to hide (with varying degrees of success). With coop life, they learn to go into the coop to sleep. I am concerned that teaching them to sleep in an open coop, then not shutting them up each night will create an enclosed buffet of chicken for any predator who comes into the coop either at night or during the day. Even with an electric door, if a raccoon gets in before the door shuts then the girls are shut in with the raccoon and will all be killed by morning.
    I have one big girl who can’t jump 4 feet (she’s 8.5lbs), but the others could do it as long as they aren’t hurt.
    I like the idea of your plan but maybe people can brainstorm to get it to work safely?
    Noi and trumpeting_angel like this.
  9. Nebrooster

    Nebrooster Hatching

    Apr 19, 2019
    The electric fence will take care of the raccoons, possums and such. I raised pheasants last year and didn't loose a single one. I had the electric fence, then 6' tall fence with netting over top. By the sounds of it, they are going to need to be locked in a run when we're not around. That isn't a problem, just figured it would be better giving them free reign to keep busy.
    Molpet likes this.
  10. Ghosty

    Ghosty Songster

    Jun 26, 2018
    SW Missouri
    You need to talk to people that do this kind of thing and read their posts. @centrarchid
    I completely disagree with coyotes jumping a proper predator electric fence. However, expecting the chickens to cross over at will may be unrealistic.
    Molpet and trumpeting_angel like this.

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