Free-range or Penned

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by MassChick, Dec 2, 2016.

  1. MassChick

    MassChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2016
    Hi, I currently have my girls penned in because we have a hawk issue, meaning that they are aware of my chickens. They have made attempts to get them when I let them out over the summer and the more I do let them out for a few hours, the hawk seems to know. She sits in a tree for hours and waits to see if I will let the girls out again. Meanwhile my girls just want to be out so badly. They literally pace back and forth in front of the gate all day. They have plenty of room in the pen but it's breaking my heart not to let them free range all day. I try to let them out a little only when I can "babysit" them but it's getting pretty cold up here in New England. Do I let them be chickens and be happy and risk getting killed or keep them cooped up for their entire lives?
  2. N F C

    N F C phooey! Premium Member Project Manager

    Dec 12, 2013
    I don't know if location makes a difference or not but when I had my flock in FL, I noticed the hawks seemed to show up mostly early in the morning and at dusk. I only let my girls out during the day time to lessen their exposure to the hawks. But then I also was outdoors at the same time.

    Guess it's up to you let them free range knowing the risks or do you keep them penned for their safety?
    1 person likes this.
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    In your setting I would consider constructing a nice looking chicken tractor. with a large and easy to close door. Train hens to follow you for some really tasty treat (prefer meal worms). Release hens from coop and get them to go into tractor and close door. Let them mess about in tractor then release them supervise around dark so they can go straight back to coop so it can be closed up for night. Move tractor periodically. You do not have to do it every day. GIves them free time on fresh ground with ability to scratch about in a different location. You have some like hay to entertain them further.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Phaedre

    Phaedre Just Hatched

    Nov 20, 2016
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    1 person likes this.
  5. Primo

    Primo Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2013
    This decision is completely yours. If you are attacheched to them like a pet, then you cannot let them free range. Sooner or later one or all WILL be killed.
    If you can accept the occasional loss then free ranging is ok.
    As Yoda like as this sounds, the answer lies within you.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Dekthai818

    Dekthai818 Just Hatched

    Nov 14, 2016
    I let mine free range when im around.They are 10weeks old. I hate having them in coop/run all day
  7. MassChick

    MassChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2016
    Thanks everyone. I'm thinking the chicken tractor is the way to go.

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