Free Ranging Fears

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Jerseycoop, Aug 4, 2011.

  1. Jerseycoop

    Jerseycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 13, 2011
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    Hi I would really love for the girls to spend a couple of hours out of the run and free range in the back yard. I have a 6 ft privacy fence and plan to clip the right side of their wings (neighbors next door have three crazy dogs) if we are outside with them while they roam will they be safe? I've heard if you stay out with them hawks are less likely to attack not sure if this is true. [​IMG] Any opinions on their safety in this case would be greatly appreciated ..thanks
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  2. Hot2Pot

    Hot2Pot Fox Hollow Rabbitry

    Feb 1, 2010
    West TN
    Any time chickens are loose,there is a risk. But I think they would rather live life to the fullest and be out , than live longer cooped up. Still, it hurts to lose them. I thought daytime would be safe, but hawks, black vultures , and dogs proved me wrong. Still, I do sometimes gamble and let them out. They love it so.
     
  3. JerseyHen

    JerseyHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not sure where you are in Jersey, but I am up in sussex county. We have a LOT of hawks and an eagle or two around all the time. We have been free-ranging for a month now. There is definately more hawk activity, but so far no casualties (it is probably just a matter of time). Before we had chickens, I was in the yard preparing a garden. A hawk swooped right down and took a rabbit from a few yards away. I have also had them take birds in the air right a few yards from me. So, while they may be less likely to go for it if you are there, I wouldn't put it past them, especially if they can't find abundant food sources of other types.
     
  4. Jerseycoop

    Jerseycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sorry [​IMG] I feel bad when they're in the run and they watch us almost begging to join in. Were you out in the yard with them when they were attack from hawks?
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I'm not going to tell you that they are absolutely without-a-doubt safe with you there. They are a lot safer, but any time you free range, you take a chance. Things can happen pretty quickly.

    What I suggest is you start letting them out about an hour before their bedtime when you can stay with them. They should go back to the coop when they are ready for bed. This way, you see what is going on and can maybe build your confidence and they will go back to the coop on their own. Free ranging is not for everyone, but mine really enjoy it.

    I have a lot of hawks around and I let mine free range practically all the time, whether I am around or not. Right now I have the adult flock, a bunch of 11 week olds, and some 3-1/2 week olds that Mama just weaned, so they are roaming on their own. I fully recognize that I could lose one today, but I have yet to lose one to a hawk. I have lost one to a fox and another probably to a dog over the past three years, but no hawks yet.
     
  6. Jerseycoop

    Jerseycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Ugh! My children would be devastated. I'm in Manalapan and I know we have hawks. They are the only thing I fear considering the fence keeps everything else out. What to do what to do?
     
  7. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

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    I would say take a short chance, but watch them during that time (you don't have to watch them the entire time, but keep tabs, and number one, LISTEN for any troubles) If nothing seems to happen, continue doing it for short times each time, and gradually increase their time out, each time keeping a moderate watch or ear out for any troubles. As long as your place has a GOOD fence, you should be fine. (by good I mean one only a well trained climbing dog could scale)

    As said before, life is far better living the natural way with risks than cooped up. I hate seeing people with chickens in dirt runs honestly. . . I'd hate to be that chicken.


    As for hawks, eagles, etc. It may be tacky, but stringing up CD's over the area REALLY helps. [​IMG] The shine of the moving CD's scares the birds.


    I free range my girls out on a huge, wild, overgrown pasture with nothing but a cheap 5 ft fence and CD's hung up in the middle of nowhere (lots of forest) and have only once ever had a problem (bobcat) and it was because some Elk trampled down a section of our fence.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  8. Jerseycoop

    Jerseycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:This is a good idea, thanks. The kids and I would be with them the whole time they would be out. Would a hawk be so bold with 4 people in the yard?
     
  9. JerseyHen

    JerseyHen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It is unnerving. Yes, I was right there, outside, being active too. I never heard the hawk come in either time. The time it took the bird in midflight all I saw were feathers. No hawk. That is how fast it happens. The time with the rabbit, it killed it and dropped it a few feet from me (too heavy to carry) then sat in a tree and stared me down until I moved a little farther away and then it came in and took the rabbit apart and made a few trips back and forth to it's nest with it. Beautiful birds, just scary now that I have chickens. Up here we have marsh hawks (Harriers). They are about 24 inches tall and really very awe inspiring, but deadly way. The bald eagle I saw yesterday probably wouldn't think twice about taking a chicken if it was hungry, but thankfully prefers the fish in the lake in across from our property.

    I agree with the other poster about letting them live fuller, if shorter, lives. I also really want the eggs to be from pastured chickens. They are having a blast out there and my 3 roos are pretty good about sounding the alert when they see the hawks overhead. As I was typing this reply, my boxer went crazy (inside). I let him out and he made a beeline for the coop and chased off something that was harassing the girls. Apparently, my dog, that loves to chase anything furry or feathered, has decided he is head hen and flock protector. He gets big treats today. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2011
  10. Jerseycoop

    Jerseycoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Thank you Illia! I feel the very same way. I think reading about all the losses on here really scared me. In life there's always risk but if I could find a way to make it more safe for them then it's all good.
     

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