free-range ideas?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lendavis, Jul 9, 2010.

  1. lendavis

    lendavis Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2010
    Hi All,
    I've had my chickens in my backyard in the Bronx, but I've just moved them to my country house in upstate NY. I have built a nice hen house for them and a run, but I'd like them to free-range. I let them out, but they want to free range in my garden and my wife's flower beds, among other locations. OK, I know all about movable cages for them, but I don't like keeping them cooped up during the day. I also wonder how to get them from the hen house to any caged in area that I will set up. (My plan at this point is to use portable fencing--electric, but I'll start out without using the electricity, just the fencing.) So I'm asking if anybody has come up with a good plan to keep the chickens in a fixed hen house and run, but to keep them during the day in portable fencing? Also any valuable experience using electric fencing...do I need to electrify it if I'm only using it during the day?
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:This is a dangerous idea if you think you will EVER electrify that fencing. Animals get used to it being safe, then one day you plug it in and they try to squirt or reach through it like they're used to, and get so far through before that first ZAP that they get stuck there getting zapped over and over. That's where most electric-fence mortalities come from. If you're going to electrify it at all, do it right from the start.

    Also any valuable experience using electric fencing...do I need to electrify it if I'm only using it during the day?

    If it isn't electrified, it won't stop peoples' loose dogs, or wandering coyotes/foxes with babies to feed that are hunting during the day. It is up to you whether you're ok with this.

    Also be aware that most chickens (exception: CornishX meaties) can perfectly well fly right over that electronet if they think pickins' are better on the other side. It is really meant to keep predators OUT, and sort of generally indicate to chickens where you'd *prefer* they not cross, rather than being a really reliable chicken retention device.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    It might be simplier to just fence off the gardens so they can't get in them.
     
  4. lendavis

    lendavis Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 5, 2010
    I could fence in my vegetable garden, but my wife's flowers are all over the place, and a fence would give a bad aesthetic look to the property.
     
  5. lendavis

    lendavis Out Of The Brooder

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    Could you put netting over the fencing to keep the chickens in?
     
  6. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
    My chickens love my flower gardens and like to saddle up to my container flowers like it's the all you can eat buffet. They demolished a large urn of annuals/herbs last weekend in the time it took me to go inside for a glass of water. Naughty!! Ooooooo I was so mad at them!! I can't let them free range if I'm not out there to supervise because they inevitably choose the most expensive plant to destroy.... Ditto on the vegetable garden. We got smart last spring and fenced it in. Best move ever.

    I've given them their own garden that I allow them to eat/dust bathe in (we call it the Jungle). Whenever I catch them in a prohibited garden I chase them into their own garden. It's full of daylillies and hosta for them to stomp and ruin and lots of rosebushes to dust bathe under. I put thyme as a ground cover in areas that aren't mulched and it seems to recover pretty quickly.
     
  7. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    In my limited experience, the chickens scratch up open mulched areas between flowers pretty badly, but do not do much of any damage in DENSELY-PLANTED (cottage garden type) beds. They wander in there sometimes, but don't mess things up. So changing planting style might help. And then just fence them outta the veggies.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat
     
  8. CityChook

    CityChook Chillin' With My Peeps

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    cottage garden = trample trample trample

    but at least there's no where to dust bathe. At least until they eat something tasty to the ground...

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Chick_a_dee

    Chick_a_dee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 23, 2008
    Peterborough, ON
    Our chickens were destroying our flower beds so we bought these little sections of picket fence from Lowes. Its about 1ft high and they don't ever go over them. The reason we bought these is because we have a picket fence around the front garden (no gates though) and I had noticed the chickens don't like to sit on top of the fence because there is nowhere flat to sit. Its all pickets, so they can't judge where to land. Worked the same with the little 1ft high fence.

    We have a cottage garden and they just DESTROY it. They will find places to dustbathe, the smallest nook. They'll even dusbathe under the larger plants and dig them right out of the ground. No garden is immune to chickens.
     
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2010

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