Free range vs run

annampet

Songster
Jul 2, 2018
144
204
126
NE Michigan
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.
Mine do run up and down the fence a bit when they see us outside but otherwise have no issue.
ETA: Our mobile fence surrounds good tree coverage so we're somewhat safe from airborne preditors.
 

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
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!
I never thought of an automatic door. I'll have to look into that!
 

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
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.
That's my plan, becuase our fence is very secure, but the gate is what allowed it in, theres a gap under in that is just big enough for a weasle to wedge through. And yes fingers crossed! Ares arent full grown yet, so maybe I'll wait until they are!
 

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
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.
I might start putting them in when I'm not home then, becuase I am now paranoid aswell. how do you get yours to go in?
 

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
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.
That's why I chose free range at first, for their happiness and well-being. I'm very much attached to all of them but knowing now how easy it is for an accident/disease its probably what's best to accept it.
 

Aapomp831

Songster
Oct 4, 2017
1,385
1,966
231
Lincolnton, NC
That's why I chose free range at first, for their happiness and well-being. I'm very much attached to all of them but knowing now how easy it is for an accident/disease its probably what's best to accept it.
Yes, it is still a shock when you find one mangled by a predator. I guess it’s just the trade off we make for fresh eggs and the joy that chicken rearing brings.
 

Hrseluvr

Chirping
Jun 5, 2020
25
151
53
Hesperia, MI
Just started with chicks this year, so watching them grow and now getting eggs is exciting. I started free range in the beginning until I lost one. Now they have there run all day and I let them out for a few hours in the evening. They go back in the run on their own in the evening and then they get locked in at night. They do pace the run when I go out but they get treats, and scraps mid afternoon.
 

Quiggy

Chirping
Apr 27, 2020
63
65
53
My first thought is that weasels are hard to keep out of runs. Mine almost always only come out at night. So, despite what you choose they should be 100% locked up at night.
They always go in at night, this happened I think in the moring when I had to go to work early. Not dark, but not day time either.
 

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