free ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by karinkess, Nov 29, 2012.

  1. karinkess

    karinkess In the Brooder

    Jul 30, 2012
    I am new to backyard flocks and have been letting the 'ladies' free range during the day until dusk. Protected run is pretty much unnecessary unless not home for a few hours. Plenty of screening from hawks during daylight. Secure coop at dusk. My feeling is that I would rather be free during day and take my chances - kids don't understand and put ladies back in run padlocked and all. Thoughts?
  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    This is a personal decision. Lots of folks on here also free range, including people who have had chickens for many years. But it is a risk, and sooner or later will no doubt cause a loss or losses, perhaps to a stray dog, perhaps coyotes or a hungry fox. I have done both. I've gone for months free ranging without a loss, when I had two dogs who were quite good with the chickens and who chased predators away. Now I have 11 birds in a large fenced yard, about 70' x 70' -- not predator proof, of course, but no losses for over a year, I assume because there is enough food for the local predator population that's more easily accessible. I can live with fencing them in a yard large enough for bushes and grasses to grow (mostly because of coyotes and stray dogs in my case) but I personally would not keep them in a "small pen," which to me the usual 10 sq ft per bird is. Having a guardian, such as a donkey or a well trained dog or two, does improve their chances greatly.

    It sounds like in your case this is something you need to discuss with your kids. Of course we assume (and I believe) the chickens prefer being free range; it's their natural condition. Freedom vs. safety is clearly a complex subject with many variables, some of which you mentioned.
  3. Joe.G

    Joe.G Songster

    Nov 16, 2011
    Eastern NY
    I free range most of the times, It sucks when you lose a bird, especially if it is one of the ones you really like, I go for many months at a time with out a lose, then Ill get hit and I tend to lock them in for a bit then let them back out, Hawks seem to be my biggest issue and they tend to move on if I keep them locked in.

    My kids are ok with the loses. But I only lose a few a year so the trade off is worth it to me.

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