Free Ranging Occasionally?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by SemperChicken, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. SemperChicken

    SemperChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    So because we have busy lives and I, unfortunately, can't be a stay-at-home chicken dad, is it bad that I'm not able to free range my chickens daily? They have plenty of food and water in their run, which is about 10'x10', but they also love when I open the gate for them. Whenever they free range, it is always supervised. I'm almost never worried about predator attacks, I would just rather be home while they're out and about. They know where home is, and as soon as they hear me shake the mealworm container they come running lol!

    But just wondering if it's something to worry about as far as their health if they're not able to free range every day, but maybe 2-4 times a week.

    Thanks guys.
  2. sunflour

    sunflour Flock Master Premium Member Project Manager

    Jan 10, 2013
    I have 6 hens, living in spacious total confinement and they are very happy, safe, spoiled hens.
  3. pdirt

    pdirt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 11, 2013
    Eastern WA
    We love free ranging ours. I understand people have their reasons for not doing so (usually due to predators), but they just seem way too happy to be out and about.

    One idea for you (albeit at some additional cost) is to install an automatic pop door on a timer on your coop. I think there's a name for them, but I'm not sure what it is. You could set it to open 2-3 hours before dusk and they could have some free range time and then go to bed in the coop. The door will close automatically, according to the time you set it for. If you don't have a predator issue, this would be very safe to do while you're not at home.

    If your concern is more about your chicken's getting into your neighbor's beloved flower beds, then yeah, supervised would be best or with some additional fencing.
  4. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    My husband gets upset because I hate to keep mine contained for a few days to allow for treating the When I began keeping chickens, they were never allowed out unsupervised. Within a few months, it changed to them being allowed out as long as I was home, somewhere. By the following year I'd let them out before heading to Of course in five years I've never lost a bird to a predator (knock on wood), so that helps.
    That being said, in a spacious, well tended run with good feed/water, your birds are just fine. Let them out when you're able to, as you've been doing. I do think having access to grass and bugs is healthier for it's mental stimulation. But a few times a week is great...
  5. SemperChicken

    SemperChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 5, 2014
    Raleigh, NC
    Yea we live in a pretty dense community and thankfully there's no legal issues with owning chickens (even the HOA doesn't have any restrictions). Our two first hens I would have no issue with letting out as long as I'm home. They seem to know where home is and wouldn't run off. Not that comfortable with the Cochins just yet, but the overhead in the backyard is pretty full of trees so not really worried about aerial predators.

    I remember being out front with the two hens and Harriet was freaking out when she saw a crow fly by (speaking of, do they attack chickens?). Crazy to witness their instincts kick in when they've never had an issue with predators.

    Anyway, there may be some exciting changes coming soon =) we found a property we want to move to (more land, away from neighbors, large backyard, and old horse barn type structure, etc). Praying for good feedback from the lender we've been talking to.
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    My yard flock during warmer parts of year free-ranges continously. From about mid-October through mid-March they free-range for some days for an hour before dark on week days and all day on weekends. As days get really short the weekday portion stops as they are on roost by time I get home. Supervision is provided by dogs.
  7. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    think about production egg layers, they never even get to scratch in the dirt.

    so where do you draw the line on a "happy" chicken, is it full free range or living like a production bird?

    Somewhere in the middle is my guess. Mine only get out for an hour or so couple times a week, my biggest issue is I want to keep them out of the landscape gardens so can only let them out when I'm there to monitor.

    I try to give them things to occupy their time/interest. Mine get fodder several times a week. I have a corner of the run that is boxed off like a sandbox and I'll dump a whellbarrow of finished compost in there for a couple days before moving it to the gardens. They love to scratch through it. I also use a part bale of straw in my run that gets removed and replenished when I clean the run, it gives them something else to scratch through instead of just a dirt floor.

    give them lots of variety in treats and things to scratch through and they'll be happy.

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