Free Ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Lone Wolf, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. Lone Wolf

    Lone Wolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 9, 2013
    I have a few questions to ask about free ranging and was hoping someone who does could answer them so here goes

    1. How often do you lose a chicken? I have read that a LGD helps keep predators away...Is that true?
    2. Is it worth getting a rooster to help protect the flock?
    3. If it is worth getting a rooster is there a breed that is best at keeping the flock safe?
    4. Will the chickens mainly feed themselves or not?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated! [​IMG]
  2. I personally have not lost a chicken to a predator by free ranging. I have had countless encounters where it could easily have happened though. Be on guard. Hawks are less likely to come down for a chicken if you or a dog is close by.

    A rooster is valuable. They do protect. Their calls and the will in some cases fight to the death.

    A good rooster is not breed specific. I do think that some are better but that is a matter of opinion. My opinion...get a big rooster. [​IMG]

    Chickens can indeed survive without any feed in warm season. MOST WILL NOT LIVE A HEALTHY LIFE THOUGH. Egg laying will not be good if existent at all. Chicken feed is great. There are other diets you can put them on to be healthy but it takes balance and lot of forethought. To totally free range without chicken feed, you probably want only 2 chickens per acre so they can get enough bugs and protein.
  3. farmer boy

    farmer boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    i free range my birds never lost a bird doing it .. i have a couple rooster like 8 of them and i have 3 dogs .. i have had a attack from a hawk he went for my biggest bird and it couldn't even lift the hen off the ground lol ... i feed mine chicken feed but i put that out and they mostly eat the grass bugs and seeds or whatever so they don't eat much and we don't have to much a lot of food and i have 4 big ducks they are heavy eaters and in the winter we use a lot of food but in the summer the ducks just forage mostly .. i have no fences any where so the birds are free to go where they want and my rooster are always around the hens or their own little group .. i have a houdan rooster and if you pick up a hen and it squawks he will run at you with his feathers fluffed up and try to attack u so he is a good rooster and i have two big neat breed roosters so they have the size then i have some bantam roosters .. one time when i first got my new big rooster the two smaller bantams were both trying to attack the big one to make him go away and the rooster was huge compared to them to put together so some will fight to die or some will just run
  4. Chicks Galore3

    Chicks Galore3 Artistic Bird Nut

    Dec 16, 2011
    I've free ranged for about a year, and haven't lost any birds yet. There is a significant increase in big bird visits (And not the yellow fluffy one from Seaseme street!) But so far none have them have made a move. I am getting a rooster, primarily for protecting the ladies. :) They are great hawk protection. I am getting a Buff Orpington because- 1.) Orpingtons are known to be friendly (mine are!!!) and 2.) Bigger breeds tend to not attack as much. And yes, I notice that their feed consumption goes way down if they just free range 3x a week! (though mine are spoiled and get out about 6 hours or more a day 7 days a week. :)
  5. 4 the Birds

    4 the Birds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 15, 2010
    Westfield, Indiana
    My birds free range but within a 1 acre fenced area. A rooster will help and sound the alarm. Create cover or hiding places. We have several dogs on the farm and they help with sounding alarms if coyotes are at the perimeter fencing or if large hawks are circling. You will want to give you birds layer feed. Free ranging helps supplement their diet.

  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have free-ranged birds for a long time and often done so with multiple flocks at multiple locations called walks. Most were gamechickens. Many of the walks were parts of our farm which was pretty big with some sort of barn or simply a fence row with a clump of trees but others were property not owned by us and those folks would sometimes have hens living with our flock of games (non-game roosters not allowed). Birds are lost to predators every year although with quality birds I like to keep losses of adults to less than 10% to predators. Some flocks suffer very heavy losses and others none detected once birds are 12 weeks of age. Most of those flocks involve hens raising chicks and losses are particularly hard on those hens and their chicks. The predators do not hit every flock the same every year. Some flocks can go for years with no losses then all of a sudden be nearly wiped over course of a couple weeks. Most such flocks are / were maintained in the presence of livestock that are at least periodically grain fed resulting in birds getting at least some of that. None were fed a diet made for chickens although some were fed hog feed in locations other animals could not get at feed. Presence of chicken friendly dogs and good roost sites are best predictors as to whether predators will be an issue. Dogs need not be bred as LGD's but multiple dogs helps greatly and larger dogs seemed better, especially if something like raccoons or feral dogs the biggest problem in area (we seldom had problematic strays because everybody had chickens). Confined dogs are essentially useless unless birds roost somehow within dog confinement area. Birds not fed require larger areas to forage and cover increases safety, especially from hawks. If dogs of any quality, they shut hawks down. If protection provided by dogs marginal or non-existent, then rooster are particularly important with respect to hawks, especially when hawks target chicks or hens. My roosters repel such hawks very well. Over last four years my use of walks has reduced greatly but I now keep a more complex setup with several flocks on on same property that are either games or American dominiques or some cross of latter. This has enabled comparisons of roosters with respect to hawk stopping. Only my games have demonstrated the ability to repel hawks consistently and cover is important for that to work. Cover is an important concept for more than just predators. With respect to mammals, my game roosters will attempt to distract somethng like a red fox chasing his chicks (not hens) but he will not take one on in battle to death. Rooster fighting a mammal usually involved situaton where hen already engaging predator and such mammals are attacked by rooster from behind and usually only one flogging before rooster flies up to cover. Fox catching such roosters usually involves rooster miscalculating how close fox is to catching him. Roosters are not effective against any predator at night.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2013
  7. farmer boy

    farmer boy Chillin' With My Peeps

    i don't think the breed of the rooster matters about being friendly they may be known for it but they still can be aggressive .. all my roosters are very nice and they are all different breed rooster its just they way u raise him and handle him .. if u handle roosters to much they wont be afraid of u and they will attack you .. my alpha rooster is a big baby in the summer times when berries and grapes grow in my yard i will go sit out with them and feed them treats and my rooster will come and sit on my lap and eat them lol he can be greedy when it comes to his fav type of berries he is a partridge chantecler and the others are all different breed of roosters ... there some roosters that have killed hawks before i saw a post on here show a pic of the dead hawk their rooster killed and the hawk was really big but the rooster was the fighting breed idk what they are called .... i free range from morning until night time they are free to go inside or outside as they wish and when summer comes they are never inside and the days are longer so they stay out longer .. roosters are very good to have around they will make a call or alarm to tell the hens to hide if they rooster sees a hawk but if they rooster was raised inside and was never outside until u got it then he will not know what to do if he sees a hawk he will just keep walking around because he was never taught how or what to run from so it will be a stupid outside bird and it would be fine if he lived inside so its good to know if it lived outside or inside and if they bird is healthy and make sure there are no dangerous things the birds can get outside that can harm them .
  8. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2012
    I free range and have several roos that do an excellent job calling others to safety and making sure everyone gets in and will chase off anything that is a threat. They will even at times sacrifice themselves so the flock can get to safety, RIP Mystic...... I have lost 2 to hawks and 2 turkey hens to racoons. However my roosters have become more watchful and aware with these loses and the flock is stronger because of it. I will always free range my birds, it benefits them in so many ways and it benefits us, they clean up the bugs and ticks and weeds and they get lots of nutrition from it all. I do not have a LGD but know many who use them and while extremely helpful you will lose some every once in awhile at some point down the road. Sometimes it takes a bit for predators to realize you have yummy morsels running around for the taking..
  9. Good Luck!
  10. tadpole98

    tadpole98 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 20, 2012
    I free range, I personally would feel terrible if I had them locked up in some little or even big run.

    1. I lost quite a few last year from a hawk, but never before have had a problem with free ranging. The biggest loss i have ever had was actually when a fox (or something) dug under my fence when I didnt free range, and lost all but four. Bear in mind, i had 40 before that. There was no place for the to run and escape so it was a disaster. I had an LGD great pyrenese who took 14 chickens and 5 months to train that THOSE ARE NOT FOOD. but after that she was totally worth it.
    2. In my experience my roosters will call the attention to all the hens, and make sure they get in the coop. My red star rooster (this is so awesome) actually goes around making sure everybody is in before he goes in for safety. Once a hen was left out and he went over and got her and called her into the coop. [​IMG] I saw all of this from my window.
    3. big breeds. But not too big that they harm the hens when they mate. I also like the silkies because my one rooster ( i dont know if others are the same) is always protecting his girls.
    4. they will feed themselves depending on the season and availability of food. but its always good to have food for them at night and in the morning. and to put them in at night so predators dont pick them off.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by