Free ranging, how safe is it?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by bigreyhorse, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. bigreyhorse

    bigreyhorse In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    I'd like to free range the girls when they're older, but my dad and sister seem dead set against.
    It would only be for a few hours at a time and day time of course, I was wondering how safe is free ranging,there is the occasional hawk, I usually see them flying pretty high.
    I'd put up the dog and cats. Night time is when most of our predators come out.

  2. valmom

    valmom Songster

    Sep 23, 2007
    Well, we'd really like to free range ours, but we can't take the chance. Last year we lost one to something (we think a hawk since it was so fast and left no trace), and just last week we managed to startle a fox into dropping one of our hens before he killed it- the girls set up an alarm and we went running out and probably scared the [email protected] out of the fox:lol:

    So, they aren't free rangeing anymore, as much as they want to. Of course, this week we found a huge raccoon inside the coop as the girls set up a clamor. I just can't lock them inside the hen house, though:( We are looking into ways of keeping raccoons out of the run.
  3. The Chicken Lady

    The Chicken Lady Moderator

    Apr 21, 2008
    West Michigan
    Predators do come out during the daytime. I've had foxes streak across the yard during the day and grab a bird before. One time, the fox grabbed a bird while a human was in the yard! They will try anything if they are hungry and desperate and see a quick and easy meal available.

    If you aren't worried about losing chickens, and don't think it would make you feel bad, go for it.

    As an alternative, you could think of ways to plant trees or shrubs in their run so that they get the free range experience without being in danger.
  4. I think of free-ranging as a romantic concept that doesn't apply to me. We live at the edge of the Canadian boreal forest in an agricultural region, and no one free-ranges any more. There are lonely roosters left from some former flocks, and we've installed significant biosecurity on our new coop and run. We also support a feral cat colony so they've been checking out our setup.

    I'm not prepared to have my new flock whittled away.
  5. halo

    halo Got The Blues

    Nov 22, 2007
    My Coop
    Free ranging is as safe as playing in traffic.
  6. chickenannie

    chickenannie Songster

    Nov 19, 2007
    I free-range with no problems, but it totally depends on what predators you have in your area.

    I keep a rooster and 5 guineas so they can serve as warning signals for approaching danger for the hens. And I have lots of good hiding places from hawks (they all dive under juniper bushes in my yard if they sense danger from above).

    And like the others said, predators show up that you didn't know existed.

    Why don't you let them out when you're there, doing yard work, sitting on the porch or whatever. I don't want to lose a single one of my young turkeys, so I only let them out for a few hours at a time -- just in case! They are getting used to the routine of being herded back in to the coop at my direction.

    My chickens free-range everywhere all day, every day, no problems.
  7. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I don't free range unless I can be out there with Obelisk...
    And still a hawk can just swoop down and snag a bird and you won't know until you don't have a bird. And they'll come close too...I have had the same redtail sitting on a limb of the hawthorn outside my dining room windown looking in at my birds. He was in the Rhododendron the other morning. And he got Penny when I had gone back inside after I had let her and Obelisk out. Let alone that the neighbours' dogs and cats that are running loose...
  8. mandolinmama

    mandolinmama Songster

    Apr 13, 2007
    Urbana Missouri
    You might want to start letting them out for an hour or so in the evening when you're sitting out there with them. They'll put themselves back to bed and you can lock them all up for the night. That will give them a good chance to exercise and eat lots of good bugs.
    I've free ranged for a year and loved it. This is the first week they've been locked up because we've had two hawks caseing out place. We do let them out in the evenings though so they can have play time.
  9. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    Quote:Chicken Lady, I don't understand what you've said. How do trees and/or shrubs do that?
  10. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    I think, under ideal conditions, it is as safe as being in a run/coop. I've seen many threads on here of chickens getting killed while in a run. I've yet to lose a bird and I have free-ranged my flock at 3 different homes. I work, so these birds are attended by only the dogs while we are not here.

    I have 2 alert dogs who even repel attacks from the sky. I live surrounded by open fields and my land, approx. 1.5 acres, is fenced entirely. This makes for pretty ideal conditions for me. I have the same predators as do many others, but the opportunities are less available. The four-legged ones have to brave open terrain and open jaws to get to the birds. The hawks have only to fly low to receive a barrage of barking and dogs actually jumping into the air at them. My cat and one of the dogs kill any and all rodents in the area, thus eliminating snake food. I consider my situation pretty ideal. When I lived in town, I freeranged with a chicken tractor. One makes allowances, builds the fences, trains the dogs and hopes for the best! Right now the birds are temporarily in a very large run until the garden is big enough to withstand the scratching and pecking. I feel so sorry to see them confined to the same patch of grass that I can't wait to get them out of jail!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008

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