Free ranging pullets

PNWhens

Chirping
Sep 17, 2019
24
79
69
Whidbey Island, Washington
I have 4 rhodies that are 5-6 weeks old. I let them run around the yard when I am watching, but am afraid to let them explore when I'm not there for fear of predators. Should I let them run on their own, or maybe put up a netting for protection of some sort? They do have an enclosed run, but I like them to get some time out and explore the garden.
 

Callender Girl

Free Ranging
Sep 18, 2018
2,934
16,928
746
North Central Iowa
I would advise against letting them free range when you can't watch them. If they are safe in their run, then "field trips" when you are home should be enough exploration time. Predators are fast and numerous; my chickens are only out of their coop/runs when I'm home (and that's most of the time and nearly every day). But, if I'm even leaving for 10 minutes to run up the road to a neighbor's house, everybody gets locked up.

Once you lose a bird or birds to predators, you realize that complete freedom can mean death for your girls.

And, after all the dark and ominous stuff, welcome to BYC. This is a great place, and I like RIRs a lot. My first was a dancing hen named Ginger Rogers.
 

slordaz

hatchaholic
5 Years
Apr 15, 2015
3,456
6,394
602
Idaho
That is up to you, if you are going to let them free range without supervision I would get bird netting over the area they are allowed to free range in. but I personally would wait as there aren't older hens more experienced and little's are such an attention grabber for predators
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
27,846
21,979
907
Southeast Louisiana
Any time and any age that you let them range they are in danger of predators, even if you are with them. I've seen a few people post that a fox, bobcat, or hawk got their chickens within 15 feet or less of where they were standing. Your presence is a huge deterrent but there are no guarantees.

I let my first batch of chicks free range at five weeks out in the country. We saw foxes, coyotes, and hawks but never had serious predator losses for three years. Then I had two back-to-back dog attacks, different dogs, when people abandoned dogs out in the country for the good life. So I put them in electric netting. Electric netting does not stop flying predators but I haven't had a problem there. It did stop all ground predators.

When i was growing up, Dad free ranged a flock of 25 to 30 chickens. Until after I left home for college we had only two predator attacks, a fox and a dog. Both were shot. Some people are able to free range for years without issues. However, others get wiped out as soon as they try it. This is just as likely in the city as in the country. They are at risk every time you let them out. I can't tell you how much risk.
 

PNWhens

Chirping
Sep 17, 2019
24
79
69
Whidbey Island, Washington
Any time and any age that you let them range they are in danger of predators, even if you are with them. I've seen a few people post that a fox, bobcat, or hawk got their chickens within 15 feet or less of where they were standing. Your presence is a huge deterrent but there are no guarantees.

I let my first batch of chicks free range at five weeks out in the country. We saw foxes, coyotes, and hawks but never had serious predator losses for three years. Then I had two back-to-back dog attacks, different dogs, when people abandoned dogs out in the country for the good life. So I put them in electric netting. Electric netting does not stop flying predators but I haven't had a problem there. It did stop all ground predators.

When i was growing up, Dad free ranged a flock of 25 to 30 chickens. Until after I left home for college we had only two predator attacks, a fox and a dog. Both were shot. Some people are able to free range for years without issues. However, others get wiped out as soon as they try it. This is just as likely in the city as in the country. They are at risk every time you let them out. I can't tell you how much risk.


yeah, best to keep them safe, especially with only 4. funny enough my black lab loves the chicks and enjoys sitting with them, and though I like to think she guards them I know shes probably thinking what tasty snacks they would make haha.
 

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