Free Ranging or not?

MarcyR1011

In the Brooder
Jun 29, 2015
83
7
33
Hemlock Michigan
I know a few people that allow their chickens to free range all day and have lost a lot of them to Hawks and other predators. I have a few that get out but am afraid to let them all out because of all predators. Also am afraid they will tear up my vegetable gardens and flower gardens. Any thoughts either way?
 

appps

Crowing
8 Years
Aug 29, 2012
4,784
647
321
Australia
We went about 3 years free ranging our back yard before losing one to a goshawk. Now they don't roam because I frequently see Hawks circling. Think we just got lucky those first few years. If you do decide to let them you will do better if they are ranging under shrubs rather than on the lawn.

As for the garden, yes they make a mess and destroy stuff. I had some areas such as the vege garden that I kept them out of with some 3' plastic wire and tomato stakes round the beds so I could still reach in to pick. On my flower garden I put chicken wire down flat on the ground, cutting it in round plants I didn't want them scratching up. They would wander through and pick out the weeds, not really bothering my plants like they did the Veges. It was the scratching that did all the damage and they can't scratch where the wire is laying. A light layer of hay over the top and it wasn't very noticable. Have to admit that I'm enjoying being rid of all the wire and fences now they stay penned up instead.
 
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MarcyR1011

In the Brooder
Jun 29, 2015
83
7
33
Hemlock Michigan
I have them penned up in a large run and I had netting over top of it but the snow took the netting down and some of them are able to get out now. I think in the spring I'm going to put more netting up to keep them in again. I will probably let them out once in awhile when I'm home. Think I'm going to be devastated if something gets ones of them. I just love all of them!
 

rIrs roost

Sir Crows A lot
Aug 20, 2015
14,275
4,535
426
Rockingham NC
I just had a hawk try to get another hen today. This time my youngest roo slowed it down til I could scare it off. That the second time a hawk has tried this year. I supervise and they still try when they catch me off guard. If it were me, I'd let them only when I was outside with them. Luckily, both of my roos helped me out in both cases and I didn't lose one. Had I not been outside, I know I'd lost one or two. Thank God for my two roos too.
 

MarcyR1011

In the Brooder
Jun 29, 2015
83
7
33
Hemlock Michigan
Awe! So glad you didn't lose any!!! I think I will keep them penned up. So many people let them free range I felt I was doing something wrong to keep them penned up!
 

rIrs roost

Sir Crows A lot
Aug 20, 2015
14,275
4,535
426
Rockingham NC
Well that should be good. I built all my coops like tractors so they'd have a run on the bottom level. And I let them free range two or three hours most everyday. But if I don't feel like staying out with them, at least they can scratch around on the ground still. I love letting them out and watching them though. Just wish I didn't have to worry about hawks and other predators.
 

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