Free Range?

Nov 22, 2020
Central Texas
My chickens are still chicks as of right now, but I am wondering wether I should (partially) free range them when they are older.
I have three guinea fowl that are completely free ranged and nothing (besides my dogs) has tried to kill them that we know of. I also have three very fat ducks that I let out for a few hours a day to free range. Nothing has killed them besides natural causes since they were little (two disappeared last year). The threats out here are raccoons, opossums, my dogs, snakes, possibly coyotes, hawks, and owls. Also, there is no fencing- just a ‘barrier’ of plants bordering the 2 acre-ish yard. Should I let them partially free range?
I agree with Sourland, it will ultimately be your decision based on your idividual circumstances. Sounds like you have a lot of predators in your area, all wanting chicken dinner. What do you mean by partially free range? Will you be watching them while they free range? Will you be devastated if you lose any chickens? You need to ask yourself what your comfort level is. Good luck in your decision. 😊
Agree that that is the decision you will need to make. Predators won't care if you are standing right next to a chicken, they will fly down and grab that chicken before you even notice the predator is next to you.
I think hearing stories may help you make a decision, there are some horrible stories.
I free range, I have eagles and hawks flying over all the time, I haven't lost any to a predator (knock on wood), but I also have a rooster. My rooster does an amazing job at watching for predators and warning the ladies to run for cover. For me, it took about a year for me to feel like I could let my flock free range but I also didn't have a rooster that first year either.
The plant border won't contain them, if they can get through or over, eventually they will try.
I have three pullets and a cockerel. I don't free range because I can't deal with a loss of a chicken right now. I have hawks, eagles, raccoons, possums, skunks, owls, coyotes, our dog and the neighbor's dog. They warned me that he would go for a chicken, if he saw one. I won't put them or me or the chickens in the position of being taken. (He doesn't run, but has gotten out on occasion.)

I may some day free range, as I do have the space, but not now. What I do want to do is expand their run. :)

It is up to you, and you need to weigh your situation's pros and cons. Good luck, whatever you decide.
We adopted a nature flock of four chickens about four years ago and cooped them at night (although one has always chosen to sleep on top of her coop), and free ranged in our half acre treed back yard during the day. Honestly once the chickens were used to their new home it was a no brainer for us to give them run of the yard. We live in Phoenix, AZ and have cototes, raccoons, roof rats (unfortunately, old agricultural area), and loads of hawks. Although animals in our neighborhood have been taken by coyotes, our chickens have been fine. Hawks sometimes stalk our girls, and they get stressed as a result, but we are home during the day so are able to keep an eye on things.

I have new chicks for the first time and I am now pondering the right age to free range them as younger birds seem much easier prey that mature, then also I am wondering if a bigger flock will make us a better targer for predators. Time will tell, but that is our experience in case it helps.
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