Free range vs run

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
Hey all,
I just wanted opinions on how you keep your chickens, I free range mine but was wondering what your opinions were on it. I had an accident with a weasle/mink yesterday and I'm weighing my options if I should turn to a run rather than free range. What are your thoughts?
 

KarynVA

Songster
May 29, 2020
235
597
133
SW Virginia
I've decided to keep mine restricted to the (movable) run. I have only 3 chickens, but my yard is small and there are neighbors on all sides. I worry my hens will wander into neighbors yard, which is behind a screen of tall grasses, and then I won't be able to see them or get them to come back to our yard. I don't think my neighbors will appreciate them pooping and digging up their gardens.

Also, we have many raccoons and skunks in the neighborhood; and sometimes hawks. I figure mine 'free range' within the safe confines of the run, which we move around as needed so they always have fresh 'range' to graze and explore.
 

Aapomp831

Crowing
Oct 4, 2017
1,462
2,071
251
Lincolnton, NC
That’s really a personal decision; you have to be willing to face the possibility of more loss if you free range. I choose my birds happiness over all, and let them free range. We haven’t lost many, but we have lost a few. But we also have 50 chickens so we can afford to lose one here and there and I’m not attached to all of them. I know that sounds terrible but once I learned how susceptible chickens are to disease and predation, I trained myself to not get too attached for my own mental health.
 

NatJ

Crowing
Mar 20, 2017
4,067
6,820
406
USA
I had an accident with a weasle/mink yesterday and I'm weighing my options if I should turn to a run rather than free range. What are your thoughts?
My first thought: to make a run weasel-proof is quite difficult. And if the weasel can get in but the chickens cannot get out, they are even more vulnerable. It might make the difference between losing one chicken at a time if they free range, as compared with losing several or all of them at once if a weasel gets into the run.

I don't know what is best, but do at least think about what it takes to make a run weasel-proof before you spend money and effort building one.

(It's relatively easy to make a run that keeps chickens in, and keeping dogs out is not much harder, but weasels can climb, dig, and squeeze through small openings.)
 

Callender Girl

Crowing
Sep 18, 2018
1,479
7,696
466
North Central Iowa
Mine get the best of both worlds. All but one coop has an attached, hardware cloth wrapped run (construction of the final run is under way, delayed by snow!). Most days, unless it is horrific weather, the chickens free range in the area between the house (so I can watch from the windows) and the goat and sheep pastures.

There are a lot of critters out there who would like to eat my poultry, so if I'm not home EVERYBODY goes into the coops with the run doors closed off. One mink attack was enough to make me paranoid all the time.
 

Egg Snatcher

Songster
May 11, 2020
693
1,053
198
Hey all,
I just wanted opinions on how you keep your chickens, I free range mine but was wondering what your opinions were on it. I had an accident with a weasle/mink yesterday and I'm weighing my options if I should turn to a run rather than free range. What are your thoughts?
I keep mine in a run/coop. They do get to free range on week end s when I'm home. I have had problems with wild aniamls eating my chickens though.
 

annampet

Songster
Jul 2, 2018
144
204
126
NE Michigan
We use to free range....but we lost three different small flocks (less than 12 hens). So we started allowing free range time only when we were out doing yard work. Then we moved :) So now our hens are fenced always but I have a permanent fence as well as a mobile fence from Omlet. They have access to the mobile area always unless we are gone on vacation. Then they are locked in the permanent fence and we have an automatic coop door. There is still a risk to this but we haven't lost one yet!
 

KarynVA

Songster
May 29, 2020
235
597
133
SW Virginia
For those who allow free range on weekends/ or while at home only, have you noticed your chickens being especially grumpy while confined? I've seen other posts on BYC in the past where that seemed to be an issue for some chicken keepers.
 

jreardon1918

Songster
Jul 13, 2016
693
1,129
246
Southeast, MA
My Coop
It is a risk tolerance issue. We have a pretty secure run. No losses in it in 3 1/2 years. We also have a fenced area that is just 2'x4" welded wire. No cover. We lost three 8 week chicks this summer. Half of our new birds. We were in the yard most of the day and did not witness it. Never found the culprit. I suspect a weasel or hawk. After keeping all birds in the secure run for two months we just started letting them out again. Fingers crossed that as they are now full grown they will escape all but the worst attacks.
 

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