Free ranging - should I trim flight feathers?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Stephine, Aug 27, 2016.

  1. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chicks are 17 weeks old now and we are slowly starting to let them free range a bit here and there. The plan is to train our English Shepherd to hang out with them and drive away any predators. We are on a creek and deer fenced on all sides, but the fence down on the creek end isnt terribly high - maybe five feet. All our chickens are heavier breeds, with the RIRs and Welsummers being the lightest and I don't ever see them flying higher than three feet. Shoukd I still clip their wings to make sure they won't go adventuring in the creek or would they be safer with their wings intact? Thanks!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I recommend not trimming wings. Invest more in getting birds to stay away from perimeter fence. What are particulars of the dog?
     
  3. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    He is an ES from Yvette and Phil Anderson - related to yours I believe? From their last litter.
    What do you suggest for keeping them away from the perimeter fence?
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  4. chickens really

    chickens really Chicken Obsessed

    Have no worries.....They will be fine....I never clip wings..
    Not saying one wont go over the fence but usually they wont even try....
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Cover patches in the from of relatively dense plantings chickens can spend time foraging and loafing in. Brambles, timothy and possibly a bamboo of some sort serve that purpose well can be setup to look good too. I have large sumac stands and even Russian Olive that seasonally get job done but I have to work in controlling the invasive Russian Olive. Look into species in your area that form hedge rows. In some places plants like Blueberries very much dit the bill. During warm season when insects fly at night, consider having a light on at night over one of the cover patches where the insects will collect and be targeted by chickens the following morning. Also consider compost heaps constructed so chickens can forage about heavily in each day. I suggest throwing some seed corn and BOSS into compost and scratching it under with a rake to provide additional rewards for scratching in it. Overall thing in terms of an English Garden to provide a maze.


    Your ES if a pup is going to be presenting challenges for a year or more. If like mine then your plantings might be in trouble. Do not let the pup get into a tough predator like a raccoon until pup pushing a year. Mine was decidedly over confident and would have gotten into trouble if other dog did not have his back. Do you allow your ES free access to poultry free-range area at night?
     
  6. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the tips!
    We can definitely have a compost pile down in the meadow for the chickens - we produce lots of compost. The chicken's meadow is an old orchard, so there are a bunch of old small fruit trees and a large crab apple there already, but I was thinking about adding some buddleia - good cover, pretty, good for butterflies and grows like mad in our climate ((Sonoma). I don't think we can do a hedgerow on the creek fence as it's all big oaks here that we can't really plant anything under.
    Our ES is three years old. I believe he is a littermate to your dog's dam (wish I knew her littername!). He just has no experience with the chickens running around free yet. We had the brooder in the house and way too long at that (it took much longer than anticipated to finish the coop), so he is very familiar with them; but he also loves to play chase, so the big thing is to teach him that the chickens are not playmates. Luckily he has good self control....
     
  7. junebuggena

    junebuggena Chicken Obsessed

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    Trees are good shade, but they offer little protection in terms of cover. They need low growing things that must be ducked under. Blackberries make fantastic cover and forage.
     
  8. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Forgot to add:
    No, we are not leaving him outside at night. We have mountain lions that walk through the creek bed from time to time (it is a wild life corridor from one regional park to another) and it's just too risky leaving him out. Plus, he likes to be with us. I am not so worried about night time predators fir the chickens - they are in Fort Knox at night.
     
  9. Stephine

    Stephine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]
     
  10. EggSighted4Life

    EggSighted4Life Overrun With Chickens

    Hi, from a little farther north. [​IMG]

    I don't believe your situation calls for wing clipping. However if you do, be sure to ONLY clip ONE side! Otherwise the purpose of making them off balance is defeated.

    I have trained my 3 adult dogs, ALL rescues (lab X bully, Lab, and Queensland Heeler) to range with my chickens and goats. It can be done and some of it depends on your relationship with your dog. My dogs do not stay out at night, but I believe their day time presence has stopped much much predation, since I haven't had issues YET in four years. And I live in predator central. My dogs have caught plenty of thing including oppossum (which actually did play dead).

    Good luck!
     

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