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Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by chicksooner, Dec 4, 2012.
Do you let your birds out even if you are not going to be home or only when you are home?
I have just started letting them out for a couple hours in the afternoon alone. The first few times I did it, I was a paranoid mess. It does eventually get easier. I am still relieved to get home and count them and know they are all there. I guess it depends on your area. I live on a patch of 2 acres cleared in the middle of 8 acres of timber. I do have to worry about hawks but as far as them wandering off it's unlikely.
I leave mine out all the time. I even leave them out if I go out of town for the weekend. But, I have dogs and where I live has really few potential predators. My biggest risk is my flighty leghorn visiting the neighbors dog, but she tends to not want to leave her friends.
If I moved to a more predator rich area I might reconsider this arrangement.
Mine are out but pretty much only when I am home. They roam my fenced yard and don't fly so I don't really know why I worry so much. I do keep one of my dogs chained as I don't completely trust her with the birds. She is mostly puppy still and wants to play. I was just debating whether to let them out or make them wait and pace angrily for me to decide I will be home long enough for them to be out.
Mine are out all day but their coop opens into a barn with about an acre of fenced pasture attached. So they are only semi-free ranging. If there was no fence then no, I couldn't do it. To many stray dogs and lots of coyotes, I'd be chickenless in no time at all.
Mine come out at dawn and go back in at dark. We're on 10 acres but have lots more open acreage all around us, several mile sections. I have seen hawks in the area and worry about them but since my flock is primarily for eggs, I don't fret as much as I would if they were my cherished pets. I leave them out all day, whether I leave and go to town or to the city or whatever. When I'm gone for a weekend or so, I have a 'pet sitter' who comes in and feeds and waters the horses, chickens, dogs and cats. In winter, I pay her to sleep over so the dogs can come in and sleep in the house. I know, I know, SPOILED! Anyway, so their routine remains the same whether I'm home or not.
When I free ranged I had no door to the coop, so they came and went as they pleased. We have an acre and they rarely strayed to the neighbors (empty foreclosed home) or even to the end of the property. My place is perimeter fenced and I had a good farm dog who kept the predators down and never looked at the birds. Now, maybe if the birds had ranged a bit more over the property, they'd still be free range. I just got too tired of chicken poop on the porch, so they now have a nice large run. Not long after we confined them we lost our good Sam dog, and our new dogs just aren't as diligent about patrolling for predators, so we'd likely have contained them anyway.
When dogs present provide defense, birds are free-range 24/7 and no efforts made to secure roosting sites. When dogs not present like when we go on coon hunt, roost sites / coops are secured.