Free Ranging in Urban Setting?

TaraontheCoast

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
66
76
129
Oakland, CA
We live in Oakland, CA an urban setting, but are in a lovely, tree-filled neighborhood in a home. We live near-ish to open space (like a canyon with hiking trails), but we're solidly in a neighborhood.

We have a good-sized backyard, and our 7-month old pullets (whom we adopted recently) are really loving exploring and foraging. They come quickly when called and know their coop is home/safe. There are also various other bushes/plants that could provide shelter.

I've posted on my local Nextdoor, but any time they've been out free ranging, I've been outside with them. This is fine for now, since I'm working remotely temporarily, so I can be at a desk on my back porch. But, after end of September, I'll be back in my office.

I'm not sure I'd be comfortable letting them free range if no one was home, but my partner bakes from home. He wouldn't be out here with them though. Curious how others in more urban environments handle this.
 

MarcyG

Songster
Nov 28, 2018
92
176
121
Sebastopol, CA
I agree with HenOnAJuneBug. The predator strikes happen in the BLINK of an eye. I have heard countless stories of hawks swooping down to fly away with a chicken - EVEN while the owner was as close at 10ft nearby.
A possible solution would be to build out a larger enclosed outer pen (if you have the space), where they could have more room to stretch out/explore while you're inside the house. I would recommend using hardware cloth on top, bottom and sides for the strongest protection. A friend and fellow chicken owner used only 'chicken wire' in her outer pen area, and a mountain lion attacked in broad daylight, ripped the wire apart to get into the coop, killing several hens. A wired cover will also protect from flying predators.
 

PirateGirl

Chicken Lover, Duck Therapist
Mar 11, 2017
7,203
18,537
632
South Park, Colorado, USA
My first thought was not predators, but neighbors. If you do not have a fenced yard your friendly neighbors might not be your friends long if you let your chickens run loose. Poop on everything and destruction of landscaping are a chicken’s favorite activities. In my town, there is actually an ordinance requiring chickens to be fenced. They are not permitted to roam at large any more than a dog.
 

TaraontheCoast

Songster
9 Years
Apr 13, 2010
66
76
129
Oakland, CA
I agree with HenOnAJuneBug. The predator strikes happen in the BLINK of an eye. I have heard countless stories of hawks swooping down to fly away with a chicken - EVEN while the owner was as close at 10ft nearby.
A possible solution would be to build out a larger enclosed outer pen (if you have the space), where they could have more room to stretch out/explore while you're inside the house. I would recommend using hardware cloth on top, bottom and sides for the strongest protection. A friend and fellow chicken owner used only 'chicken wire' in her outer pen area, and a mountain lion attacked in broad daylight, ripped the wire apart to get into the coop, killing several hens. A wired cover will also protect from flying predators.

Unfortunately we don't really have space for that. I mean, we could potentially, but we'd hoped to also plant a garden. I could talk with my partner about it. We could put it along a fenceline, and do container gardening elsewhere (vs in-ground gardening).
 

Folly's place

Enabler
10 Years
Sep 13, 2011
23,527
39,472
1,106
southern Michigan
"Good fences make good neighbors" is true now, as it was then.
Every predator imaginable will turn up, over time, for a chicken dinner.
Free ranging is fine, with the above limitations.
We have 50+acres, and still have fencing between our coop and the neighbors, and we have a very safe coop/run combination, for all the times that predators have turned up.
 
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chrissynemetz

Psalm 91 ❤
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Dec 19, 2013
21,197
141,773
1,827
Olathe Colorado
I wouldn't feel comfortable letting them roam unless they were being watched by somebody. And I once had a hawk swoop down and take a hen with me standing literally right there. It happened in a split second. So even standing gaurd over them isn't a 100% guarantee they'll be safe. :(
 

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