Free range or enclosed run?

What’s your flock setup?

  • Free range

  • Enclosed run


Results are only viewable after voting.

ctesta

Chirping
Apr 26, 2017
18
29
74
I was wondering your opinions on letting your chickens be free ranged or keeping them in an enclosed run.

I’ve heard that free ranged keeps them quieter because they have more to do but also that an enclosed run makes them quieter because they feel safer. Is one better than the other?
Any advise would be greatly appreciated:)
 

Woytgirl

Songster
Apr 24, 2017
369
314
167
I was wondering your opinions on letting your chickens be free ranged or keeping them in an enclosed run.

I’ve heard that free ranged keeps them quieter because they have more to do but also that an enclosed run makes them quieter because they feel safer. Is one better than the other?
Any advise would be greatly appreciated:)
It depends on where you live, but an enclosed run is usually safer. I have mine in an enclosed run but let them free range from time to time.
 

cholland

Songster
Jan 17, 2017
282
450
132
California
It really depends on you're setup. They defiantly like more space but they don't trend to go farther than a few hundred feet from the coop.
Also depends on what preditors you may have in your area. If there are hawks, you may want a run with an enclosed top.
Mine are fenced into about a half acre. So plenty of room, but also somewhat contained and protected. Besides the welded wire fence I also use a couple of strands of electric fence to keep out diggers and large preditors.
If you have the room I would let them roam, but I also recommend something to keep them safe. Also if they have access to your immediate yard they can leave quite a mess on your doorstep. I like them to stay in their yard.
 

Big Red Roosters

Songster
Nov 7, 2018
185
445
137
United States of America
I do both. I have a small run attached to each coop so they can always have the option to be outside, but I open it up in the afternoons so they can free range the remainder of the day.

I will always be pro-Free Range, but it does come with risks. Predators can snatch up a bird without a trace, leaving you heartbroken. On the other hand, chickens can also get away and survive!
If something gets in your enclosed coop or run, the birds will never escape and multiple will be killed, if not all.

I know many will disagree with me, but I truly feel the chickens are happier free ranged, they never get bored. They have freedom and can do whatever they want. Plus, they are amazing bug eaters, I cant tell you the last time I saw a nasty locust or grasshopper. My chickens also eat mice and small rats, so my house is protected from rodents as well when my chickens free range.
Free ranging also cuts the cost of feed, 50lbs of food could last weeks, where when they are in a closed run, they will gorge themselves. 50lbs maybe lasts 4 days depending on the number of birds.

I have guard dogs, so my number of chickens taken by predators is quite low. Maybe 3-4 per year. My worst year was about 12 deaths, but half were from a large stray dog. This year I lost 2 to a coyote pack, the 3rd chicken escaped and came back the next day.

My uncle did not free range and he lost 8 of his birds when a mink chewed into the coop one night.

Pros to an enclosed run, is you'll always know where they are, you dont have to run down after dark to shut the coop door. Predators may be deterred more often vs free ranging.
Cons, it would have to be huge if you want a lot of birds, or else poop accumulates and will smell and make them potentially sick. If a predator does get in, your dogs(if you have any) wont be able to get in and chase it away.
If you have the funds, you can make your coop and run predator proof, anti digging skirts, hardware cloth everywhere(over windows and doors), roof over the run, etc.
I just use hardware cloth over doors and windows, and use the rifle as predator removal. Never ever have I had something break in my coops. I had an opossum walk through the front door while I was in there fixing a heated water bucket, but that's it.

As for your sound question, I've never heard a difference. I also live on a farmplace with over 30 roosters, so there isn't exactly a quiet moment of the day here... they crow even at night...

As a short version, I prefer a little of both, but mainly free ranging. Then if you would need to lock them up for some reason, you can and they still have a little run to be outside in.
 

rosemarythyme

Free Ranging
Jul 3, 2016
5,967
11,005
642
Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
It's really up to you. With free range you need to be prepared for losses, whether to predators or from chickens walking onto a busy road. A well secured run obviously has lower risk of losses (though it's still possible).

Other things to consider: Do you mind chickens pooping on the deck? Do you have a garden that you don't want them getting into? Is your yard/lot fenced at all, and if not, would neighbors mind a wandering bird or two?

As far as the noise concern, I think that depends on the individual chickens. Mine are plenty quiet except for the occasional egg song, but are in the run 99% of the time. I only let them out if I'm outside as well and have time to keep an eye on them. They aren't any noisier inside the run or outside.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
10 Years
Nov 12, 2009
7,335
7,128
536
western South Dakota
Free range means different things to different people. For some, it means letting them out into the back yard, or even the neighbor's yard. For me, it is loose in a pasture with the attending wildlife.

I vote both. Predators have gotten me, more times than I can count. I try and vary the days and times I let them out, I have a good rooster, but to me, you really can't cheat on your numbers by free ranging, and a lot of people try to do that.

I have a set up that is big enough to keep mine comfortable in full lock down. If predators start coming around, then that is where they are, sometimes for days. Sometimes I let them out all day, sometimes a couple of hours, sometimes not at all. It seems to help.

If I let mine out from dawn to dark everyday, I would not have a bird left.

Mrs K
 

HenOnAJuneBug

Crowing
May 20, 2015
2,337
4,444
362
I can't imagine not free ranging mine. It's their natural element. When I have to pen them up for a half day or so when I have to leave, I come back to them pacing back and forth along the fence of the run wanting to get out. I suspect they do that the entire time I'm gone. They just don't know anything but total freedom to do what they want.
 

Summerbirds

Songster
Jan 27, 2018
229
381
131
Canada
I keep my hens in my fenced yard but they do have a closed run that I hate to put them in when i'm away. I would love to free range but my hens would go to my other people yard to talk to there chickens.
 
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