Free range help! (mods please move if in wrong area)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cindyanne1, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. cindyanne1

    cindyanne1 Mother Goose

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    Apr 19, 2009
    Central Ohio
    I would love to let my chickens free range... even for a short time each day... but there are two issues that I can't get past and I'm wondering if any of you have any suggestions.

    1) Dogs. My own and the neighbor's. I can control my own (keep her in the house or the fenced back yard when the chickens are out) but I can't control the neighbor's dog and he just pops over here whenever he pleases. They try to keep him restrained, but he gets away and they don't always realize it.

    There's a chance (albeit small) that my dog will chase the neighbor's dog away from the chickens, but I don't really want to bet on that. My dog is smart and I think she could learn to not bother the chickens in time, but I don't want to push it or count on it.

    2) The garden. There's no way to keep the chickens out of the garden unless we fence in the garden, and my husband won't do it. He says it makes it too much of a pain to work in the garden with his equipment. (He's a grain farmer and all the grain farmers I know don't like fences or rocks or trees or anything that gets in their way when they're trying to work.)

    He's probably right. I can't imagine trying to get into the garden with the rototiller with a fence around it, and if we leave enough room on the inside of the garden fence to turn the rototiller, etc. then we'd have to mow inside the garden fence, and that would mean putting a gate in the garden fence large enough for the riding mower, and OMG it would just be a pain.

    So... do you all have any ideas? My only thought is to let the chickens out when I'm out there to watch for dogs and/or keep them out of the garden. I'm not very happy with that solution, though, because as a mother of six, sometimes I have to drop everything and run into the house at a second's notice (or less!) and who knows when I could get back out to put the chickens in. Conversely, I wouldn't want to have to worry about rounding up all twelve chickens and make sure they're all in the coop before going in the house. I have a lot to do, lol!

    We have a portable coop with a run that can be moved to fresh grass. It's not *easily* moved, but it is movable. I'm sure my husband would be willing to hitch up the Gator or one of the small tractors to move it every few days or so if needed:

    [​IMG]
    (the apex of the roof is 7 feet high. The entire structure is 15 feet long by 6 feet wide)

    Do you think this will be enough though? According to the plans my husband used, this coop is supposed to be big enough for 12 chickens, and my husband even made it a bit larger than what the plans called for. Still, I'm worried they won't get enough exercise!

    Thoughts?

    Thanks, everyone!! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  2. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

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    Quote:Can you nicely tell the neighbor to try harder to keep their dog on their property. If they try to keep him restrained and he still gets away, they aren't trying hard enough. The only yard a dog belongs in is its own.

    Quote:You can use somethng easily moved, like that orange snow fence. Our garden isn't fenced. The only thing my chickens bother are the tomatoes. They take one bit out of everyone they can reach. [​IMG] I just plant a lot more tomatoes than I need. To their credit, the chickens do seem to have reduced the squash bug population. And letting them free range in the fall got rid of all of the box elder bugs.

    Quote:I think that 12 might be a bit crowded.
     
  3. Glenda L Heywood

    Glenda L Heywood Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well let me give you the information I would say
    this size pen is big enough for that few chickens
    and as for free ranging the chickens will do BETTER just living a peaceful life in their excellent cage and pen

    I hatched 3500 chickens a yr and NEVER free ranged ONE CHICKEN!!

    It is not necessary for them to lay and be free ranged

    the odds against them living a long life does not sound good if let lose

    It isn't always possible to let chickens free range

    being alive is more reasonable than free ranging

    the worry of such is not worth the pains of annoying the husband, the dogs, and the lives of the birds

    just enjoy them in their beautiful excellent shed and pen

    Your husband did an excellent job building that set up
    enjoy them as they are
     
  4. hollyk

    hollyk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 21, 2008
    Canton, Texas
    Quote:This is your opinion. There is plenty of information to support the benefit of birds free ranging.
    Mine free range. Yes, I have lost 2 birds in the last 6 months. However, I hear of plenty of folks who keep their birds penned up losing chickens to illness and having plenty of problems related to boredom.

    To the original question-
    Warn the neighbors, if the dog comes back pepper his behind with a 410 shotgun. Nobody is really hurt, but his behind will sting all the way home. He will then think twice about coming over to your house. You might have to repeat this, but I have never had to it more than twice.

    Concerning the garden- my chickens do scratch in the garden. Because I would rather use natural pesticides (like chickens and guineas) the damage they do cause at times is worth avoiding the damage caused by insects and the damage caused by chemicals. It sounds as if you have quite a lot of space for the chickens to roam on. I have two acres and have has as many as 52 chickens ranging at one time. There is so much ground to cover, they really can't concentrate on one spot for too long. It does seem that chickens have a short attention span. As soon as the sun starts to set, they all head for the coop. So, if you wait until 2 hours before dark- they will get lots of exercise and bugs to eat and they will put themselves up if you just leave the door open. The damage they can inflict in that amount of time will probably be small to the garden.[​IMG]
     
  5. Akane

    Akane Overrun With Chickens

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    Very strong electric wire around your property at the right heights will keep most dogs out. Only problem is keeping it trimmed so it won't ground out on weeds and tall grass.

    We put a fence around the garden every spring and then we take it down and use a tractor pulled tiller every fall. You can either use fiberglass rods you just tap in and pull out or actual tposts. Fiberglass rods would hold chickens well enough but aren't real tall so I generally use tposts. We are always rearranging the pastures and putting in or removing tposts so it's not like they are that permanent. You can pull them by hand if your persistent and don't mind the effort but they come out extremely easy with a tractor. With someone driving the tractor I can pull a 300' fenceline in less than 30mins. Lower the bucket, wrap the chain, hold it tight, raise the bucket, flip the post out, go to the next, and repeat. Takes me a little longer to put them in. I prefer not to do more than 6 at a time but 6 will easily do one side of a large garden so you can have a solid fence up in about 2days and down in about an hour.
     
  6. cindyanne1

    cindyanne1 Mother Goose

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    Apr 19, 2009
    Central Ohio
    Thank you for all the replies! Glenda, my husband loved your complements on the coop he made! [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Come to find out, I was worried for nothing. After planting is over (we farm for a living) and the chickens are bigger and my husband has more time, he was intending on putting some fencing up. We have a horse we acquired a few months ago that needs a paddock (right now we graze him using the picket-pin method) and my husband was going to build the chickens a "paddock" as well around where their coop sits. It'll be about a 16 X 40 foot fenced in area, possibly larger. Or depending on what he makes the horse's paddock from, he might just put the coop inside there and let the chickens range over that area, which is about 2 acres. (He doesn't really want to make the horse's fence out of chicken-suitable fencing, though, so he's leaning toward making the chickens their own range area.)

    So he already had it all figured out, lol... I just need to give him some more time! [​IMG]

    ((hugs))
     
  7. horsejody

    horsejody Squeaky Wheel

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    Waterloo, Nebraska
    [​IMG]
     

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