Free Ranging 6 week olds, will I lose them to predators?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by kelseygirl707, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. kelseygirl707

    kelseygirl707 Dances with Chickens

    Mar 3, 2009
    Lakeport, Ca.
    So our 6-7 week olds will be moving to the new coop this week, and DH is dead set against a run, he wants them to free range and avoid an ugly giant wire box as he called it. I am concerned that we will lose them to predators. They will be brought in at night, but free during the day. I figure during the day my biggest predator is hawks, but DH says they have a 6 foot wingspan which doesn't give them a whole lot of room to drop down. But I would say our backyard is probably 40x20, that seems plenty big enough for a hawk. We are in the country, backing up to my inlaws 110 acre ranch, but we have our back yard fenced off from the rest of the ranch. Most of our predators are only a worry at night when they will be locked up. Will free ranging them be condeming them to death?
  2. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

    Jul 17, 2011
    North Central Kansas
    The best answer I can offer is a definitive maybe. You don't have predators until you do. How bad are predators in your area? I live in the country. I'm at work during the day and my birds have free ranged since they were about 6 weeks. I lock them up tight at night. I haven't lost one to a predator. But I sure know I could. I live backed up to public hunting land that is full of coyotes, skunks, coons, bobcats, opposums, and hawks are everywhere. So, not sure if I'm just lucky or what. I live trap and have caughts scads of coons and opposums. I guess I'm prepared if I do lose some but will also be mad if I do if that makes sense. Kind of finding the balance between the risk of them getting snatched and the reward of them being free and eating greens and bugs. These have been meat birds. I'm getting in hen chicks this week. When coop time comes I'm not sure if I will totally or only partially free range them. Seems like they are more of an investment and I may well be more protective of them. Good luck to you and whatever you decide. [​IMG]
  3. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Eventually you will lose some to predators. Sadly, it is a fact of free ranging. Umm, 6' wingspread is an exageration about hawks. [​IMG]
  4. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Hawks need more room to grab and run but will also land and eat. When mature, with some cover and (better) a roo, they would be fairly safe. Hawks love the little ones; easy to deal with.
  5. kelseygirl707

    kelseygirl707 Dances with Chickens

    Mar 3, 2009
    Lakeport, Ca.
    We back up to a california State park, have a creek 20 feet from our back yard, and the lake is about 200 yards from from us, so we are surrounded by wild life. Coons, Opossums, Skunks, Snakes, Hawks, Cyotes, foxes and I am sure there are large wild cats around too. But again, most of these are night time predators.
  6. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    Quote:Given the opportunity and need, all of thse predators will hunt during the daylight. They are adaptive and opportunistic.
  7. kelseygirl707

    kelseygirl707 Dances with Chickens

    Mar 3, 2009
    Lakeport, Ca.
    We will have a roo, and we have a Golden Retriever pup we have been raising with the chicks in hopes of him protecting them, but it's a retrievers natural instinct to go for birds, so not sure if we can fully develop that bond, especially because he just broke his pelvis and has to be crated 24/7 except for potty breaks for at least he next month, so he won't have any bonding time with the birds. I guess we will just have to take our chances, and if we start losing them, we will revisit the idea of a run.
  8. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    Six weeks is too young to free range without adults to guide them or at least alert to predators for them, IMO. I'm betting you'll lose some or all to something. If you're right there with them, maybe for short periods, but otherwise, I think they're too young to safely free range.
  9. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio

    Why don't you do BOTH! Here's why: At first, when you put them outside, you will want them to have access to their coop and run only. This is because they need to establish where there "home" is. Once they feel comfortable and are used to their new surroundings, which is usually after about 10 to 14 days, then I would give them little sessions of free ranging, just about an hour before dark.

    They should automatically head for "home" or the coop, at dusk, when it's getting dark. Then you won't have to chase them to try and lock them up at night. Chasing chickens is NOT EASY! Trust me! [​IMG]

    I let my chickens free range all day on the weekends, when I'm home, and then on work days, I let them range from 5pm until dark, when they call come home and I lock them up for the night.

    You and your hubby can compromise and have it both ways, which will be safer for your chicks......

    Just my humble opinion,
  10. Evelle

    Evelle Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 27, 2011
    North Idaho
    from personal experance. i free range my chickens they are just so much happier that way. anyways i start taking them out as soon as they are all feathered (about 6 weeks) i leave them out but keep a very good eye on them not letting them range to far from home which at that age they rather stay close to anyways. Night time i collect all of them sometime a pain sometime alittle to easy but i figure if i want them to be happy thats the price i pay. now this is the 2 year doing chicks and ive lost 1 chick a skunk and 1 chicken to a Hawk. so free ranging is always a gamble. being little or not.

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