Free range or large run

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Spawndn72, Jun 20, 2019.

  1. Spawndn72

    Spawndn72 Chirping

    Sep 15, 2015
    I have 11 chickens that are 14 weeks old and have been in a 600 square foot fenced in area since they were 6 weeks old. They go into their coop every night with no problems.

    These are our first chickens and I was originally planning on free ranging them but after caring for them for the last 14 weeks I am pretty scared to let them loose.

    With 600 square ft to roam, am I gaining anything by letting them free range? We have 3 acres and great neighbors.
    mbhill14, m1chelle1, Parront and 3 others like this.
  2. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

    Nov 12, 2017
    Western Ohio
    Pretty big run. I’d keep them in there with some free range time on occasion. Generally, if you free range all the time, you need to plan for replacements bc predators will find them (including aerial). EVERYONE loves chicken!
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Crowing

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    You can lower your odds, but very very few on here report free ranging without losses. It comes down to what you can take. From personal experience, the predator always gets your favorite, never the one you are kind of thinking of culling.

    It is fun to let them out and about, but ... and I think their eggs taste better this time of year.

    You can lesson your odds, by varying the time of day you let them out. Not letting them out every day, not letting them out on real windy or real cloudy days - too much advantage to the predators. When you get hit, go into total lockdown and stay that way for several days to a couple of weeks.

    As your birds get a little age on them, a little experience they do better. I have found a rooster over a year old, can really help with day time predation, nothing for night time. Yours are really too young to think about a rooster for a couple of months.

    Multiple generational flocks do somewhat better. But... any chicken will make a nice meal for predators.

    Mrs K
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Maybe, maybe not.
    How tall is the fence and is area covered from aerial predators?
    Best of both worlds would be a covered secure run when needed,
    and the ability to free range on occasion.
  5. Wee Farmer Sarah

    Wee Farmer Sarah Free Ranging

    I live in a hawk breeding area (nest is across the street) so I do not free range. I have a covered run so they get to play there with little worry about predators or weather. However lately I have been doing supervised "play in the grass" time for 30 - 60 minutes a day. Sometimes they actually get bored and go back into the run when they can't find anything tasty. If you have the time to do this I would recommend giving this a try when your birds are a bit older and they associate you with food. Chickens are very "food centric" and once they know you are the food distributor it is easier to get them to follow you.
  6. crazy4ChickensNducks

    crazy4ChickensNducks Songster

    Dec 16, 2018
    west, michigan
    My chickens have 20 sqft a piece in the run, my neighbors say they don’t mind the chickens in their yard p, but I think they do. So my girls and boy have a big run with pallets for shade and hiding and I just covered half of it with a foot of mulch and then the other half made a huge pile that they love to play on and scratch for bugs, occasionally I have a premier 1 poultry net that I let them out on fresh grass with (non electricized)
    Aunt Angus and Wee Farmer Sarah like this.
  7. Spawndn72

    Spawndn72 Chirping

    Sep 15, 2015
    The fence is 4' tall and is not covered. It was originally just going to be a temporary thing until I thought they were big enough to free range. So far, I have not had any trouble with predators. I let the chickens out in the morning and lock them in the coop at night. One side of the fenced in area is a chain link fence that is shared between the chickens and my two dogs. I assume the dogs scare away anything that would bother the chickens.
    Wee Farmer Sarah likes this.
  8. Wee Farmer Sarah

    Wee Farmer Sarah Free Ranging

    You need to cover it. The predators will soon learn there is a chicken buffet available. Predators can climb and some will just fly in for a quick snack.
  9. Mybackyardpeepers

    Mybackyardpeepers Crowing

    Mar 22, 2019
    If you are able to on a regular basis I would just supervise free range.
  10. quackersandfern

    quackersandfern Chirping

    Sep 6, 2016
    West Palm Beach, FL
    I would keep them in a run. Free range they are more at risk of predator attacks.

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