Free ranging pros and cons?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Joybelles, May 24, 2014.

  1. bruceha2000

    bruceha2000 Chicken Obsessed

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    They very much want to be safe at night, they don't see well at all in the dark. They are also very much creatures of habit. I have always given mine scratch when it is time to close the barn up. They mostly come running if I go down anywhere near roost time and I just about trip over them as we all go to the bin with the scratch. Every once in a while one will be out foraging and oblivious that all the other girls went running to the barn and I have to go find her but that is MAYBE once every month. Mostly if I really have to go some where and don't have time to chase down a chicken. So, play Pied Piper and lead them to the coop when you want them to go in. Throw the scratch in the coop, they will follow. I can pretty much get them in the coop any time of day just by going to the scratch container. If it starts to get dark and I've not given them their treats, the go to the roosts anyway.

    Yeah, the head count thing [​IMG] One night when the girls were about 6 months old (Dec, so getting cold at night), it had gotten dark by the time my wife and I went out for head count and to close the door on the coop, we had 12 at the time. From the outside she counted to 11, I counted to 11, she moved to a different spot and counted to 11, I did the same. Finally I went in the coop and counted to 11 then saw the head of one of the Cubalayas sticking out from under another girl. [​IMG] I bet SHE wasn't at all cold that night.

    And counting is how I knew I had lost one in April. One of the 12 had died for no apparent reason in March. So I counted heads as the were eating their night time scratch. Only 10, Andromeda was missing and she wasn't one of the girls that is sometimes tardy. So I went everywhere the chickens go when they are out, shaking the scratch bowl but did not find her. I left the chicken door to the barn open so she could get in the barn, though not the coop, in case she had wandered farther than normal. The next morning we found a few of her feathers by a lilac bush not 50 feet from the barn, presume fox or hawk.

    For a start I would go over, tell them that you saw their 2 dogs kill one of your chickens. Tell them that you have a hen on a nest with eggs that will hatch soon and can not be moved. Tell them you expect them to keep their dogs confined to their property. It doesn't matter if there are zoning rules about keeping dogs confined, if they destroy your property or animals, the owner is responsible. If they seem reluctant, tell them you are calling the animal control officer (if there is one) or the sheriff and do so.

    I'm not sure how well you can protect the hen from the dogs without building a pretty substantial run around the nest. That would mean 2x4 welded wire and buried underground as well. Even with that, the dogs might terrorize the hen by running around barking and trying to get in. The dogs know where the nest is, they will be back if the owners are not responsible people. I wish you luck and understanding neighbors who feel REALLY BADLY that their pets killed the chicken.

    Bruce
     
  2. GrammiChelle

    GrammiChelle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I was already planning to put the new chicks in a coop as soon as they hatch, since the first hens chicks were mostly killed by something. She started out with about 8, but two weeks later, only has one. I thought maybe, since I'd never known she was sitting a nest to start with, she'd have a way of protecting her babies, but not enough. It may be the dogs have been here before. I'm pretty sure they've killed chickens together before, whether they were mine or someone else's because they did it so quickly after they entered the yard. It was no accident, and they carried the rooster off when I ran them off.
    I'm hesitant to put the free range chicks right in with my chicks though, so I'll have to figure out something else. I have some chicken wire and they're are several cages in the yard. I'm sure if I can get the hen can catch them all, including the hen, then she will raise them fine.
    My only consolation on Stanley's loss is that I know he has progeny. I'm pretty sure the one 2week old chick is going to look like Stanley. I'm hoping he's a little roo.
    I'm really still very upset about all this. It just makes me so angry. I know the dogs are bird dogs, and they're doing what comes natural to them, but it still makes me angry. They're aren't any leash laws here, although it is legal here to shoot dogs on your property that interfere with your livestock. I'd never shoot anything, but in am going to try to contact our local constable tomorrow. All this happened not 20 feet from my chicken coop. I'm really mourning Stanley's loss. He was such a beautiful bird and such a faithful rooster.
     
  3. albird101

    albird101 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had 4 hens and 1 roo free range from morning till evening and haven't had any problems, they duplicated last spring when my hens had chicks I have about 20 chickens now 15hens 5 roosters I don't let them breed anymore due to inbreeding, so when my hens go broody I buy fertile eggs... The pros from free ranging are happy chickens, its pretty fun to see them interact with there environment, and low food costs. The con's are predators but if you have a live stock guard dog they do pretty well at chasing coyotes and other stray dogs or wild animals... Also the roosters help with warning the flock from both ground and air predators plus many will give there life to give the hens a chance to run for cover!
     
  4. Dockellyg

    Dockellyg New Egg

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    We free range our small flock. Our rooster is a great protector. We have lost a few to predators and I would say is the biggest problem. Our chickens are happy and spoiled. They beg at our porch for snacks every time we come outside! They have a coop they go into at night and we lock them up until the am, I definitely recommend free ranging for happier birds. As a bonus they really keep tick populations down!
     
  5. Traphill

    Traphill Out Of The Brooder

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    I have a acre 1/2 fenced in my back yard with lots of woods but also I am a avid gardener with lots of plantings and a pool. I let my girls out at least 2 hours a day sometimes up to 4 hours on the weekends. Yes they scratch and I have to protect my new plantings with stones or wire but they are so happy and it cuts down on picking etc. I have tried to make my coops part of the garden, there is grape and passion vines growing on the run and plants everywhere! Ok I have to wash down the pool deck because they do poop on there but I am sure my plants don't mind at all. I am lucky that where I am in upstate SC I don't have a predator issue in 3 years due to 3 dogs that keep the place with their scent on the perimeter. What ever you decide they should get out sometime at least for happy chickens. Enjoy they are so much fun.
     
  6. GrammiChelle

    GrammiChelle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 21, 2014
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    For a start I would go over, tell them that you saw their 2 dogs kill one of your chickens. Tell them that you have a hen on a nest with eggs that will hatch soon and can not be moved. Tell them you expect them to keep their dogs confined to their property. It doesn't matter if there are zoning rules about keeping dogs confined, if they destroy your property or animals, the owner is responsible. If they seem reluctant, tell them you are calling the animal control officer (if there is one) or the sheriff and do so.

    I'm not sure how well you can protect the hen from the dogs without building a pretty substantial run around the nest. That would mean 2x4 welded wire and buried underground as well. Even with that, the dogs might terrorize the hen by running around barking and trying to get in. The dogs know where the nest is, they will be back if the owners are not responsible people. I wish you luck and understanding neighbors who feel REALLY BADLY that their pets killed the chicken.

    Bruce
    [/quote]

    I took your advice and visited my neighbor. She felt really bad about it and gave me a plant to apologize. If she had any doubts, while we were speaking, one of the dogs walked over with the remaining feathers in his mouth, the we found a bunch of feathers all over an area under a tree. She gave me permission to shoot them if they bother the chickens again. Which of course, I would never do, but she also said she would get rid of them herself if they wouldn't stay in the fence. When I left, she was working on the fencing in their pen to be sure they'd stay in. I'm not sure she will be able to keep the, in though.
    Tomorrow, I'll make sure my dog is loose in the yard to protect the chickens. He's young yet, and today he was in the pasture with the goats. But he didn't like the dogs being in the yard and he's a Great Pyrenees, even if he's not quite 4 months old. He would not hurt the chickens, and I think he'd protect them if he could.
    Thanks everyone for their help, suggestions, and just general sympathy.
     
  7. miksmity

    miksmity Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I reckimend free range, I free range 57 birds just have other animals on the property like cattle, dogs, donkeys it keeps coyotes away and stuff
     
  8. Dizzydog

    Dizzydog Out Of The Brooder

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    I don't like the idea of killing predators either though I have done it when things got out of control. I bought a heavy duty sling shot. I have never been able to hit anything with it but I have come close a time or two. Rocks whistling overhead have made believers of the neighborhood cats. They might help with your dog problem.
     
  9. GrammiChelle

    GrammiChelle Chillin' With My Peeps

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    That was recommended to me by a neighbor....not the one whose dog killed my rooster, but another one.....who offered his teenage sons to give me some pointers on using it. He also thought using paintball guns would be good. He has authorized his sons to use slingshots or paint guns on the dogs if they see them on either my property or his, and he lives between me and the killer dogs. If I was a decent shot, or close enough, it the paintball gun might hit them and at least shock them a little, without really hurting them. So I might get one of those.
    The neighborhood cats are too tiny and scrawny to face down one of these roosters and they don't go near my coop. Even though I live Way out in the country, I was able to put the coop in a lighted area, fairly close to the house, so we haven't had any problem with things getting into the coop so far. Once my roosters in the coop can crow, I would be woken at night if anything bothered those chickens. The only problem with that is, those birds are Langshans and only 8 weeks old, so it might be a while before they can crow.
    It just still makes me sad and angry that I couldn't protect my brave boy.
     
  10. vahomesteaders

    vahomesteaders Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2014
    We free range during the day most days and pen them up at night. They will ruin a garden so fence off anything you dont want to loose. My chickens prefer to go in the woods to eat so they dont get in the yard much. My dogs are very protective of our land and the animals for the most part. We have 4. Problem is one of them is a chicken killer himself. lol He is a 112lbs German Shepherd. I love him to pieces but he will kill every chicken I got so I have to keep him on a run on the property when he is outside. He hates to watch the other dogs run and play with the animals but gotta do it. Im getting ready to buy a shock collar and see if I can break him of it. Probably wont work but gonna give it a try. A cheap BB gun will do the trick on keeping dogs away. A old daisy lever action is weak. It will sting them but not hurt them. Put a BB in the butt and they will run off.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2014

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