Free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by JustClucky, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. JustClucky

    JustClucky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2011
    Hi! We're going to have a very small flock of chickens in the city. We have a little property about 2/3 of an acre. I see pictures of chickens running around all over and I'm just wondering how you keep them from running away or from a dog snatching them or a cat? A feral cat out here can and always does, take down giant crows.... I think she would definitely attack a chicken... Anyway, I'm just trying to figure it all out. Can someone fill me in? Thanks!
  2. The Tinman

    The Tinman Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 10, 2010
    Fairfield County CT
    The chickens will wonder all over the place but always return home to roost at night. The best way to keep them from getting attack from other animals is for you to stay with them when they are out of the pen. A rooster is also good to have. He will warn the girls of danger and he will also put himself between a preditor and the chickens. Some people will hang CDs on fishing line. The flashing sunlight deters Hawks. Since you have 2/3 of an acre the best for you would be a good fence.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2011
  3. shchinchillas

    shchinchillas Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 8, 2010
    With out guys being free range we do have some mishaps with the local wildlife. If we want them truely free range though, its going to happen. We haven't honestly lost too many due to free ranging. One was a predator attack of some sort. We lost a silkie who tried to perch on the horse water trough over night and fell in, and we lost 2 for unknown reasons. 1 was found in our filly's stall. We don't know if she accidently stepped on her or not. The other we actually found the same filly playing with her, she was already dead so we don't know what happened to her. Just saw the filly running around the pasture with a dead chicken. The last one has simply just went missing. No idea where she went.

    In a city-like environment I would suggest a fence as the chickens will wander, and you don't want them going into the neighbors yard.
  4. mandelyn

    mandelyn Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    In the city, your neighbors can be more of a hassle than wildlife. Chickens will wonder farther than you think, specially if someone across the street just laid beautiful black mulch for them to dust bathe in. Growing up I had free range birds, we were the last house on a dead end street with a field next door and woods beyond that. But there the chickens went, across the street instead. The people living behind my dad's house now, on a busier road, across from the golf course, also have chickens now. They've been known to follow my dad's fence all the way around to his porch. No chickens live with him anymore, the neighbor birds just wondered that far. Or they'll fly over the other neighbor's 4 ft chainlink to get to his grass. Or they'll be in the road. Not good!

    If your yard isn't fenced in totally, or if your birds routinely fly over your fence, you'll need to find a way to contain them. City chicken free range works best if you set out there with them over your coffee to be able to steer them back where they belong. The complaints that come along with wondering birds in people's yards will be a hassle that may end up in you having to give up the birds. The way my ordinance reads, I can have them as long as no one complains. So mine have an 8x10 storage building to live in (blends in with the suburban scenery) and an 8x10 run, with supervised free range. So far they haven't tried to fly over the fence. The stray cats have been known to watch from the neighbor's brush pile. The cats know dogs live here, and perhaps they're worried the dogs will come out if they cross the fence. We did have a hawk crash into the roof on the run, surprising, since I thought hawks had pretty good vision and the run is topped with visible fencing.

    Raccoons haven't tried for them, I don't think they have a taste for chicken. I have seen them in the trees eating nuts above the coop... good for them. Squirrels are fascinated, they'll sit low and watch the chickens. Chickens are fed inside their house, with all windows of the coop covered in rabbit wire, so that the wild birds don't learn how much food is in there. They could go through the roof wire and through the pop door, but they don't seem smart enough to figure that out yet. I was worried some migratory birds might have known about chicken coops and the food, but so far so good.

    You can clip the wings for shorter perimeter fencing. But you definitely want a secure run as chicken "base camp" for when you can't watch them. They'll still have safety and access to the outdoors, without causing trouble or getting into trouble while you're gone. Or a self contained chicken tractor you can move around the yard. I opted for stationary so I could have a bigger living space for them.
  5. Peck Johnson

    Peck Johnson Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 26, 2011
    Greene County NY
    2/3 of an acre is a comfortable space but they will certainly end up in the neighbor yards if they're not restrained in any way. Many breeds can easily fly over a four foot fence but usually will not without good reason. Chickens are pretty lazy and don't usually fly if they don't have to, unless they get excited.

    Either plan on watching them full time when they are out or wire fence the property. Actually, I would always recommend fencing in any situation because even if you are watching them when they are out because it only takes a few seconds for disaster to ensue. I would be most worried about any loose dogs that catch the scent and come around. Dogs are real fast and when they show up the chickens will scatter and it will be chaos (from experience). Know that dogs and other predators will catch the scent of your coop from a mile away and be drawn to them. Raccoons and possum will also kill if they are hungry have the opportunity but are usually out at night and the birds should be locked up then. House cats are usually not a problem but a feral cat can be.

    Although a rooster offers a small additional protection being watchful I would not recommend it - your neighbors will not be pleased!

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