Free ranging and chicken hawks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by J99, Aug 15, 2019.

  1. J99

    J99 Songster

    Jul 25, 2019
    My Coop
    I have some bushes and a grown over ditch and trees and an old trailer out there but I also have a lot of open space and I’m torn I know they’d be so happy being free , but I’m a chicken and would be crushed if I lost one so here’s my final idea
    I’m building a fenced area of seven foot tall chicken wire with a top about 1200 square feet around the other coop and leaving the door open and occasionally while I’m out there letting them free range close by until I see how they take to it, but for now I think I’m keeping them pinned in with a net or fence top to keep the hawks out and putting them inside at dusk to dawn
    Aunt Angus likes this.
  2. natyvidal

    natyvidal Chirping

    Mar 1, 2018
    Thank you but I think I am still far from having it the way I like. But, I do think the combination of animals and trees, shelter area etc., has helped in nor loosing any of my ladies or gents!
  3. JuliB

    JuliB In the Brooder

    Jul 26, 2019
    Deland FL
    For me I look at quality of life over quantity. Those chickens at a battery egg farm are well protected from predators, but at what cost? My birds go to their coops at night. They spend their days free ranging around my barn, under the trees. They eat bugs and snakes and scratch in the hay. We wait for the owl to go to sleep before they come out, but generally they get 6-10 hours of freedom. We have a lot of hawks and if they’re super aggressive, they take cover under a shed or in the barn, or in their coop, but for the most part, they trust they watch the sky and take care of themselves. If one gets taken, I will be sad of course, but I know that my chickens are enjoying every day, doing chicken things, living a good chicken life. Dying a good chicken death is a possibility but I would rather let them live happy and free than miserable in a protective bubble.
    Shadrach likes this.
  4. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

    Jul 31, 2018
    Catalonia, Spain
    My Coop
    Interesting view of what is considered free range.
    Fully free range: Chickens live on the property grounds. No coops, or nest boxes are provided and the chickens roost where they please. Hens nest and hatch outside. Flock members and eggs are taken for food only, so no ratio management between males and females. Feed is provided on a regular basis in order to keep the flock on the property.

    Semi free range: coops and nest boxes are provided and the chickens are encouraged/forced to use them. Feed is provided. Hens may be encouraged to nest in coops, or other housing. Male to female ratios managed by flock keeper.

    Supervised time out of run. This isn't really free ranging at all. Ask anyone who has been on a date with a chaperon.;)

    Fully confined.

    There are very few people who free range that I've come across on BYC.
    I have free ranged in the past. The problem with free ranging I found wasn't predation from flock, or roost location, it was from sitting hens being taken from their nests.
    I semi free range now. The chickens are encourage (read bribed) to use the coops at night but I still allow some to roost in the trees at times, mainly maturing cockerels who have been driven out of their group.

    I would be fascinated to read some reliable statistics on the death rate of free range chickens compared to those kept confined. Reading here at BYC many of the chicken death due to predation are happening in runs and coops.
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My concept of free-range does not imply anything about how demographics are managed. It refers only to degree of access to outdoors. Nutritional sources are a variation on that latter theme.
    Shadrach likes this.
  6. Toothpick

    Toothpick Songster

    Aug 15, 2016
    I’ve lost a couple to a dog. But that’s been it. I don’t free range often but when I do free range I don’t worry about it. In my area there isn’t much going to get them during the day. Cept a stray dog maybe. And of course the chance for a hawk. But like I said - I don’t stress over it at all. That’s the chance you take when you free range and I accept that. Plus, if a hawk does get one it’s not like the chicken is going to waste. It’s feeding another animal. Dogs on the other hand kill for sport that I’ve witnessed and that would ruffle my feathers. But I’ve got ways to deal with that.

    I’ve got an incubator, I can make more.
  7. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Free Ranging

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    I have fed my share of the wildlife, that is for sure. And once they hit you, they will be back.

    I am in the semi - free range. I vary it considerably, some days out early, locked up late. Some days let out late, some days not at all. I have the space to go into lock down 24/7. And if I get hit, I do for many days.

    I find high wind days, and real cloudy days give too much advantage to predators, those days, they stay in.

    Many on here, do not think much of a rooster for protection, but with a mature rooster I have much better luck with day time predation dropping significantly compared to a flock without a rooster.

    It is a crap shoot.

    Mrs K
  8. JuliB

    JuliB In the Brooder

    Jul 26, 2019
    Deland FL
    I feel like my Guineas also protect my flock. They run down strange birds. They’re kind of a pain, always the last to the coop and basically feral, but they do seem to be good protectors.
    Wee Farmer Sarah likes this.
  9. slejdad

    slejdad Songster

    Apr 24, 2019
    Whaleyville (Suffolk) Va
    I was thinking Chesapeake too. I am west of you in Suffolk.
    JessaDee likes this.

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