free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Chickteacher, Mar 29, 2015.

  1. Chickteacher

    Chickteacher New Egg

    May 26, 2014
    okay, so i hopped on here so i could investigate ideas about true free range. i have no strong opinion either way other than i want my girls to roam and they have told me that would make them very happy! :) i have 4 girls that I have loved for almost a year now and am sold on being a backyard homesteader. my husband built a beautiful coop when they came to join us but i feel like they need more room to roam. the coop he built is identical to the Williams and Sonoma coop...without the $1700 price tag! so, we are toying with the idea of opening up a side of it and opening the side of our dog pen (that goes unused) right beside the chicken coop so they have more room to roam. dogs pen is wooded and full of treasure for the girls to explore. we also have two cats that have been around the chicks since birth. the cats may or may not go after them. i am guessing our dog and two cats will protect them before harming them and because of the animal presence in our yard we have zero predators because Jack, Sophie and Daisy take care of that in short order. so, am i a fool to let the girls roam in a bigger fenced area? am i just asking for a death in the family? will they fly away?
  2. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    No they won't fly away. Yes they will enjoy it. I don't think your pets will bother them, but dogs can be a threat. Cats won't bother full grown hens, but will get chicks.

    Looking at your picture, you probably do have predators. And if you free range (I do) predation is a real risk. I have lost lots of birds over the years. However, it is an odds game, and there are things you can do to reduce the odds of predation.

    A mature rooster - has to be about a year old, some are better than others.

    Vary the routine, don't let them out at the same time each day

    Don't let them out on windy days, I think it interferes with their hearing.

    Don't let them out on dark, cloudy days.

    When you get hit with a loss, then keep them locked up and secure for several days to weeks. Once predators find you, they will come back to an easy meal.

    If you will be devastated if you lose a bird, you should drastically reduce the amount of time they free range, or not free range at all. Personally, I love having a flock, but the birds in the flock change. It always makes me mad, but it does make room for chicks.

    Mrs K
    2 people like this.
  3. MyTMo

    MyTMo Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 22, 2014
    Novato, CA
    I think if you are aware of what predators are around you and you take appropriate actions to keep them away you should be ok. There is always the possibility of an attack but I am sure your chickens would be a happier bunch if they had more space. I know my ladies love getting out in their fenced in run. You may need to clip their wings to keep them from flying up and over
    Good luck!

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