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Free range in winter...how does it work or does it?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by photo chick, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. photo chick

    photo chick Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Essex, VT
    I am such a sucker. We built a beautifully large coop for the chickens but they begged and begged for me to let them roam outside of it during the summer. So I let them. Now it's almost like they hate being in it. We have a large coop with a large fenced in area. The fence is only about 3 feet high...silly me...they fly over it. Ugh! So unless we fence in the whole thing over the top I can't keep them in. No biggy except winter is here. Do I just let them roam around while the snow swirls or is it dangerous? Should I keep extra food close to the house where they like to be because they just don't ever make it back to the coop once they've left in the morning. They don't even lay their eggs there. What should I do? Should I be more strict about them staying penned in? Someone told me I should clip their wings but I'm nervous to do that. What do you do for your free range hens in the winter?

  2. chickenlady

    chickenlady Songster

    Aug 28, 2007
    Stillwater, NJ
    Mine wont go out if they see snow. maybe for a minute or two but thats it. Then they watch from their run.
  3. houndit

    houndit There is no H or F in Orpington!

    Jul 13, 2008
    Braymer Missouri
    We almost always turn ours out. The chickens usually do not go out hardly at all. At least they have fresh air available to them that way. The duck and geese go out anyway and have fun.
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  4. Jess N Jeff

    Jess N Jeff Songster

    Oct 25, 2009
    South San Diego, Cali
    I am in Southern California so I don't have the snow problem, but it has been raining like crazy and my girls dont really care. I let them run out in their chicken run and they go back into their coop when they get too cold or wet. I keep food and water in their coop to keep it from getting soaked. They are happy to run in and out of the coop and run as they please.

    I recently cut my girls wings so that they wouldn't fly over the fence. They still try to fly...its funny to watch!!! You can go onto youtube and find some helpful videos on wing clipping. If I find the one that I watched I will PM it to you. It was so much easier then I thought it would be.

    Good luck!!!
  5. mdbokc

    mdbokc Songster

    Jun 22, 2009
    Oklahoma County, OK
    Mine want out to free range and go back into the coop when cold or hungry. Then they come out again. And they race to greet me at the back door when I come out; hoping for warm treats!
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Mine are out, every day, year-round.
  7. ninny

    ninny Songster

    Jul 1, 2007
    IL side of the QCA
    As long as it not storming like crazy or snow blowing in like to day:mad: i just open the door they come and go as they please.

  8. The Chicken People

    The Chicken People Songster

    May 4, 2009
    Smithville, Mo
    MIne came out yesterday barely and today they looked out like...[​IMG] What is that white stuff?
  9. bufforp89

    bufforp89 Songster

    Jul 26, 2009
    Chenango Forks NY
    Mine get let out every day too. Snow really dosnt seem to bother them, they go in and out of the coop as they please.
  10. nursemeh

    nursemeh Songster

    Apr 16, 2009
    Conroe, Texas
    just a thought..but I wouldn't clip my chickens wings if I was going to let them free range.

    If you clip their wings, then they would be off balance when they tried to use their wings to get leverage to fly and I think it might make them much more vulnerable to attack as they cannot make a quick escape if something worrisome is overhead. I see my chickens run and dart under the low branches and bushes and they can get going really fast sometimes. I let mine free range in the backyard almost everyday, and they have a lot of sheltered areas to hang out. While they are walking across a large open area, they will instintively hurry along until they are back in a "safe" area with branch cover overhead. I just think they should be allowed every natural advantage they posess, if they are going to be free ranging.

    Just my thoughts!

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