Free Range

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by bigredfeather, Oct 9, 2008.

  1. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,194
    29
    211
    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    I have 9 RIR about 22 wks old. I am tossing around the idea of letting them free range when I am home (weekends). I am concerned that something may happen to them if I let them out. I have about six dollars each in them, and I don't want to lose any of them. I live in a rural area, with a large woods(38 acres) right behind my property. I know that it is better for them to free range, but.... you know.

    Please give me some advise as what is the best thing to do.
     
  2. chickenfever

    chickenfever Chillin' With My Peeps

    644
    7
    141
    Jul 22, 2008
    Arizona
    What kinds of natural predators do you have in your area?
     
  3. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,194
    29
    211
    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    We have coyotes, foxes, hawks(not sure if they are predators for chickens), racoons. I have never seen a coyote or fox during the day around here. I have seen them at daybreak or night. I would may sure chickens are locked down at night.
     
  4. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I have about the same predators here that you do, with bobcats and bobcat hybrids added too. A good size hawk can take a chicken, as can eagles. We also have some golden eagles. The coyotes are very plentiful on this farm. I have a male dog and an SO who both pee in the yard alot. [​IMG] The coyotes have never come close to the house.
    I free-range. It takes being able to tell yourself that you could deal with it if you lost one, knowing they've had a good life up to that point.
    I also have two very protective roosters and not sure I would free-range without them. One of them always has an eye out for predators and they're very good about keeping the girls rounded up. We plan on building a run for the days we aren't around to keep an eye on the chickens, but since they've been free-ranging since they were little I already know how much fussing they're gonna do when confined to the run.
     
  5. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,194
    29
    211
    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    I plan on making them a run in the spring. At this point I don't have the time or money to get it done. I didn't realize it would be this expensive to provide food and shelter for nine chickens.
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    28,907
    119
    408
    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:Ain't that the truth!! We were about half way thru our coop build when I stopped saying "the chickens will eventually pay us back for this coop with their eggs" and started saying "okay, they'll never be able to pay us back for this coop, but maybe they can pay for their feed". [​IMG]
     
  7. alba

    alba New Egg

    5
    0
    6
    Sep 23, 2008
    If you don't have a run yet you probably will have to let them out to free range. Think about getting some deer netting to fence off the area that you don't want them to go past. Otherwise you may have a hard time finding them on the acreage.

    I am going to do the same. I plan to just use a staple gun and some landscape staples to staple the netting to the trees and the ground to make a good barrier.
    Good luck
     
  8. chickenfever

    chickenfever Chillin' With My Peeps

    644
    7
    141
    Jul 22, 2008
    Arizona
    I think you would probably be OK free-ranging during the day, especially if you are home. They will go back to the coop themselves at sunset. If you are worried about it though, then let them out just a couple hours before sunset, and they won't have as much time to wander, so they won't wander as far.
     
  9. henmommy

    henmommy Chillin' With My Peeps

    101
    1
    121
    Jul 17, 2008
    Upstate NY
    I think you would probably be OK free-ranging during the day, especially if you are home. They will go back to the coop themselves at sunset. If you are worried about it though, then let them out just a couple hours before sunset, and they won't have as much time to wander, so they won't wander as far.

    I agree. If you let them out later in the day, they will stay near by. I let mine girls free range for a few hours a day and have the same type of predators in my area. I have not had a problem. I do recommand a roo to keep them in line and alert them of danger. I recently discovered if they are out all day, they tend to travel farther. Good luck!​
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  10. bigredfeather

    bigredfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

    2,194
    29
    211
    Oct 1, 2008
    Yorkshire, Ohio
    I have a roo, but he doesn't seem very protective. He seems to be a bit of a push-over. He let's the girls push him around. I've seen him get pushed away from the feeder several times. He may have a different attitude if they get outside.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by