All of our birds are free range and they all stay around the house. The chickens return to the coop in the evening, we herd the Toms in at dark. When our turkeys were young they chose to roost in a tree on our property, but once the seasons changed and there was less forage available for them they went into the coop on their own. We leave the coop door open and have feed and water available there all the time, that may help them call it home. We have never had birds wander or fly away. We have had a little trouble with coyotes, but we deal with that as it arises. We start letting them out to free range when they are above song-bird size to discourage cats from hunting them. They have been very cautious at first and tend to stay close to the coop, they get bolder as they mature. We just returned from a walk down our road, and the toms followed us part way. They still did not leave our property. We do have 20 acres. They range over about 4 acres of it. I don't know how much space you have, or if they will want a certain amount of space. We have also had turkey hens dissapear to sit on a clutch of eggs, when they hatch she reappears with her brood and integrates them with the flock. It has worked out very well for us.
I have always free ranged from the time they left the brooder and they know where to go in at night. I think it makes for hardly birds and is what heritage turkeys is all about. Thats why they say "The Heritage Turkey must also have a genetic ability to withstand the environmental rigors of outdoor production systems." That was until this last breeding season. I just got tired of the losses I would have with the hens that wondered a little to far off. It would always be my favorite hen that I would lose. I don't like my hens to raise there own. Out here they are sitting ducks waiting to be eaten. I want to be able to collect the eggs for me to hatch. It is just safer that way and the poults are friendly and easier to train. They have a 5 acre area that is fence off with a chain link fence. Preditors still managed to get in. So now they are double fenced in until breeding season is over. We have two breeding season here. Spring to summer and a fall breeding season that last until winter. We also do not have wet grass for the baby poults to get wet in. That was until I planted this tiny patch of grass in for my geese and ducks. It is dry here. We get snow but seldom rain.
The poults have never left the yard.
This is what problems I was having. I would find a hen with a nest right up again my fence where the coyotes live. I would cover her up with a box and hope nobody would eat her. She was lucky. Most of the time I only found them after they where dead.
OmA I was born and raised in Lancaster... Your pics take look
like your in that area...
Im in Oklahoma now and no longer free range really. We had to many
chickens lost to bobcats and other pointed teeth things. In fact all my palm
could get out of the LARGE run but do not. The go in at night to sleep. The Tom
was the last one to give in and we did chase him out of a few trees but now they
all go inside at night and we lock them down. Days are in a large run. Its almost like free
I free range my birds too. Occasionally they come up to the house, but most of the time they stay around the barn. They have never gone onto the road, but we have a very large front yard. None of the animals go into the front yard. There is too much to do in the back. Last summer, when I had just let them out of the brooder, I had to herd them into the barn a few times. They quickly got the hang of it and I've not had to herd them in since. I have 13 poults this year, hatched by chickens. None have been allowed out yet, but the first batch will be out in a couple of weeks.
Free-ranging does not work well at all for me. When I let the hens out they will lead the entire flock on a big road trip. I have found that I can let the gobblers out and they will stay put as long as the hens are penned but even one hen loose means they are off and roaming.
I have a Aunt that lives in Lancaster. You must have lived there when there was nothing out there. Its all building up fast until the economy got bad. We use to go to some livestock poultry auctions in Lancaster a few years ago. I don't know if they still have them. I am below Wrightwood. So not that far away when you live in the desert.
I have had every type of preditor. I thought a dog was getting into my bantams pen only to walk 10 feet up to a bob cat with only a flash light. It is not easy here and alot of places. My idea of free range is running in a big fenced in yard.
we have hawks an owls the owls would not be a prob the birds will be in coop at night it would be a tough for a hawk to take a big turkey or even a 8 pound chicken.we have a few coyotes an foxs but we have a 15 acre field behind our house an coop so it would be hard for them to sneak up on 25-30 birds.plus i do shot any preditors i see an they dont seem to come around as much any more.we do have a big tom cat around do you think he would bother full grown chickens an turkeys?