Free Range

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Gmasandy, Jan 8, 2012.

  1. Gmasandy

    Gmasandy Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 25, 2011
    I have 7 very cute girls. We have a nice coop for them, we make sure they are locked away from varmints overnight, but turn them out to the yard during the day. We have a huge fenced in yard for them to do their thing! My question is.. why do I see pictures of beautiful yards with beautiful plants and chickens roaming around happily? My chickens have torn the heck out of our yard! They have dug up our flowers and trashed the flower beds! Its winter now, but Im thinking SPRING! How do you keep your yard looking nice, when those chickies are so destructive? I hate to keep them penned up. They have a nice sized run, so they wont be abused by staying in there, but my mental picture of what should be is not coming true! Suggestions?
  2. trailchick

    trailchick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Welcome to the world of chickenry & BYC!!!

    Just wait till they get into the garden........
    If you don't have more room for free ranging,
    it is bound to happen.
    Maybe you need a play area for them. [​IMG] [​IMG]
  3. Capvin

    Capvin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2011
    Lake Placid, FL
    If you want to have that idyllic picture of chickens roaming around your pristine yard, my suggestion is to get plastic chickens. My chickens have their favorite spots that they like to decimate and no matter what I attempt, they just do what they want.
  4. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    We have 18 unfenced (other than the chicken run and a small vegi. garden) acres. I let my 7 girls out to free range under my supervision for about an hour a day and yet their favorite places are denuded of vegetation and have big dust baths dug in them.
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2012
  5. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:That is exactly the dilema I am facing. I only have 2 girls and it's ok for right now, but they are digging a hole to China in my favorite herb bed. They are also getting into all the veggie beds because the soil is loose and not frozen yet.


    I'm thinking of attaching another run to the run they have so they will think I am letting them out when I open the door to it. Can you make any extensions off the run you already have?
    I only let mine out at the end of the day, so I'm thinking chicken wire will be enough since I will be out with them.
  6. karlamaria

    karlamaria Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 30, 2011
    Western montana
    I love when they go under hedges and dig, they turn the soil and my hedges never looked better. They dug a hug hole by there coop so I'm going to make my girls a small contained erea and fill it in with black soil, rich black soil, let them dig and play, throw In cut grass, and let them eat and turn the soil and this way save my lawn and still let them sort of free range lol.
  7. Kittyf

    Kittyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I turned a 4 x 8 foot raised vegetable bed into a run by fencing it and installing a gate. I have a few concrete pavers to put the food and waterer on so they dont dig under them and capsize them. My 3 hens love this - they walk on their own from their coop every day to the "range" and I shut the gate to keep the doggies out. They dig to China, pull out tasty worms (I seed it with mealworms at night) and scratch to their hearts' delight. One corner looks like an ordnance test range - that's where they dust-bathe. I throw in a bit of slaw - we call the salad fixin's and green stuff "chicken slaw" as the term "chicken salad" was a bit confusing. I have 2 chairs and an umbrella at one end so we can sit in the sunny afternoons and watch them dig and play. The little doggies like to watch, too - they know not to bother the chickens (Missy got a peck on the nose and learned the hard way) In the afternoon, I open the gate and they walk single file back into their coop. It is adorable!

    Big Red just started laying on Christmas Eve. Spot, the barred rock, layed 2 shell less eggs and then stopped - I think her equipment has to catch up with her inclinations. The white leghorn, Whitey, is still too young, but shows signs of beginning to mature. She's a peacomb, so every day I just check her wattles and watch for her to plump out a bit.

    I read that "free range" on egg cartons just means the chickens "may have access to the outdoors" - this seems pretty vague and not my idea of free range at all. If we had more room and dirt, so would our chickens.

    We don't have much dirt space as our mid-century modern is concrete and gravel scape, but the chooks sure love to dig and decimated our flower bed before we built their run. Now they can decimate at will - and the flower bed plants need a good overhaul anyways.

    PS - We are thinking of fencing another raised bed and switching them out yearly so we can grow stuff in one while the other is in use by the chickens. We compost their poop and litter, but they are such good earth-turners and fertilizers!

  8. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I like your idea. How long did it take to get them used to the idea of going straight to the penned area?
  9. Kittyf

    Kittyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    It took them about three days to walk to the pen - it's about ten feet from the coop and not in a straight line, but we sorta guided the chief chicken, Big Red and the others followed. Whitey may have trouble seeing well as she misses the open gate sometimes...

  10. humpbacks1962

    humpbacks1962 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 20, 2007
    Middletown, CT
    I made a big, enclosed pen around their coop. They have a sandbox, lots of dirt under straw to scratch and find worms, grass, and hideouts.
    It only took one time when they escaped to get them to run back into their pen. I think the reason is that unless they come in, they have no food or water outside. Even if I let them go to the garden (like I will, in the Spring before I do my plantings), they always go back to their coop at night.

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