Free ranging a flock of Cockerels

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CalBickieMomma, Oct 20, 2019.

  1. CalBickieMomma

    CalBickieMomma Songster

    Hello chicken people!

    This July, I let one of my hens hatch out a batch of chicks. She hatched 11, 7 of which turned out to be cockerels (of course). I am able to keep one, and a neighbor is going to take another and two of the pullets (I'll be keeping the other two pullets), but there is no way I can keep the five other little roosters, at least not in the same enclosure.

    I have been lightly asking around, and there is a person at the local Farm Supply who takes roosters and releases them on a ranch (or at least that is what the employees at the store think). I don't have the heart to ''dump'' them out somewhere like that, and I really need the space they are all in right now for back up (in case things get crazy within my established flock).

    They all get along pretty well (have only had to separate two), so I've decided to let them free range on the property (owned by my family) across the street. It's about 2 acres, fenced in, with about 1 and 3/4 available for my little flock of cockerels. The fence is 6 ft high in some areas, about 4 ft in others. I'll be feeding them and giving them water, so they won't be entirely abandoned, and the renter on that property is very open to having them around (she's getting the one roo and two pullets for her own yard/coop).

    SO, my question is: Should I set up a temporary holding pen to get them used to the new yard, or is it safe to take them over and just release them onto the property? There are a few trees along the fence line I'd like them to avoid roosting in (so as not to end up on the wrong side of the fence in the morning), but I also plan to put the food and water near/under a large tree that is centrally located on the property.

    Does anyone have any advice on how to proceed? Thanks!!!!
    Willowspirit and penny1960 like this.
  2. azygous

    azygous Crossing the Road

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    When the dust settles, the ethical consideration of providing safety and food and water to domesticated animals under your care trumps all. If you are not able to provide these three essentials, you ethically have the obligation to euthanize these animals instead of exposing them to the dangers of being without adequate shelter.

    I know of a person that keeps chickens and turns out cockerels and hens no longer laying to deal with the elements on their own. They quickly disappear and her conscience is no longer troubled by their continuing presence. She justifies this by insisting she married a farmer, and this is how he and generations of farmers before him dealt with this issue.

    Just because, "this is the way we've always done it" is paraded out as the ultimate excuse for avoiding our responsibilities, it doesn't come close to justifying it.

    Sermon delivered. If you wish to turn out these cockerels to free range, I urge you to provide a predator secure shelter for them to roost in at night along with the food and water. Confine them in the shelter for the first day and first night so they will know it's their safe place. Then you will be free to sleep well at night.
  3. penny1960

    penny1960 Yippy Do Da, Yipptye Ay!

    Dec 29, 2015
    Mossyrock, WA
    Have to agree with @azygous process rather than leave to predators grew up on farm Dad had been at Pearl Harbor the only kill was for food but clean kill JMHO
  4. CalBickieMomma

    CalBickieMomma Songster

    Thanks for the feedback, and I agree with some of what you are saying. When I was young - before going off to college - all our pet chickens were free range. We had a large penned off area of the yard for them, but there was no roof and no coop to lock them in at night. Predators were not a problem - we only had hawks to worry about when the hens hatched out babies, and the dogs left them alone. I never considered what we did as unethical. Now, if I were to just leave them over there with the mindset of 'survival of the fittest', yeah, that would eat away at my conscience. To me, letting them have a free life, even if there is the chance of predators being present from time to time, is better than just euthanizing them. But I will pen them in for the first few days to a week so they can get used to their new home.
  5. Skippersnh

    Skippersnh Songster

    Oct 14, 2019
    Why not just build a bachelor pad on your own property
  6. FortCluck

    FortCluck Crowing

    Sep 9, 2019
    Central Virginia
    You need to either have a bachelor pad for them (a coop they can live in) or process them. I wouldn't just let them run wild and let them defend themselves against the elements. They need a safe secure home at night or they'll just be food for an animal when they roost at night. It would be better to process them yourself so you eat the meat instead of attracting predators.
  7. CalBickieMomma

    CalBickieMomma Songster

    That's kinda what I'm going for, but with more freedom for them. Right now they get along, but eventually I suspect they'll start fighting with one another (I already had to put two of them into side compartments because they got into fights and I'm swiftly running out of room). The people around me raise hundreds of chickens and some of them are out at all times o the day and night. Also, I'm not worried so much about the weather - we have very mild weather here so never any snow or really hard freezing. In a perfect world, I'd find homes for them all - and I'm still asking around. I just want to give them the space they need since it's already becoming a problem :p.
    igorsMistress and microchick like this.
  8. Skippersnh

    Skippersnh Songster

    Oct 14, 2019
    They will fight when they are under a year old because of hormones but once they establish pecking order as a bachelor group things will settle down
  9. CatWhisperer

    CatWhisperer Crowing

    Jun 16, 2013
    northwest Arkansas
    I ended up with way too many oversexed little serama cockerels this year. I can’t find homes for them or you extra silkie and Polish cockerels. These are from my oldest batch of spring chicks. I fenced the back yard and found a snap lock coop on Craigslist. I think everyone who acquires chickens has a responsibility for their welfare. Chickens need a safe place to roost at night and to have access to a draft free shelter protected from the weather. My grandfather kept chickens and raised broilers. We know better now that pet chickens deserve more. What you plan is like the people who dump cats and dogs when they tire of them. It’s not right just because someone else does things a certain way. 2BD19356-3BFC-45D6-A68C-C075B7CA8EE2.jpeg 0D341949-C86E-445C-859D-38E111C7849F.jpeg
  10. AsaDotJava

    AsaDotJava Songster

    Oct 7, 2019
    Northern California
    Okay, it sounds like everyone is taking your intentions the entirely wrong way...

    From my understanding, you have the option of letting these boys free range on family-owned property with a renter who is agreeable to their presence. You plan to feed and water them, and the property is fenced. Sounds like a dang good life to me! A friend of mine free ranges her birds and has 2-3 coops available for them to roost in... and allll her chickens have chosen to roost in trees instead. I wish I lived closer to you... I love my stag pens!

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