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free roam or what?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by queen620, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. queen620

    queen620 Hatching

    Mar 10, 2012
    First time to BYC and I am not sure which category this would fall under.
    We have had 12 Red Sexlink chickens for about a year. Last month our 2 yr old black lab got into the coop/run and killed 6 over the course of a few weeks b4 we caught him red handed. Dog has been relocated w/ someone else. We have 2 other dogs, but generally that aren't as interested in the chickens. We got 12 new pullets last week and now we are up to 18 Red Sexlinks.

    My problem is that the chicken run is in a wooded area and the hens have pecked away at every little sprig of grass. The chicken run looks more like a pig sty than chicken run.
    We have adequate grassy yard & wooded land for the chickens to free range during the day. We have about 20 acres available to us maybe 2 acres grassy and the rest wooded. I am worried about our 2 dogs bothering the chickens. They do have wireless collars on which keeps them just around our house and the hens would have lots of space where the dogs couldn't get to them. Will the chickens learn where the dogs are and stay way? What should we do?

    Also if we let the chickens free range how do we keep them out of our garden and away from our berry vines & bushes?

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  2. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    In your situation is does not sound a good idea to free range. You can not keep the chickens out of your garden and also your dogs might be a problem too.

    Why don't you make a chicken tractor and house them in that? You can move that around you grass as much as you like. - or build a new run if the old one looks bad to you.
  3. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    If I were in your situation I would buy a roll of that electric fencing for chickens and move it around. Only thing is, you still have to have a chicken house inside the setup and a gate. This won't protect against hawks, either.

    I don't have dogs and so don't know if this stuff actually works against dogs. You might search BYC too for old threads on it if interested.
  4. prairie

    prairie Songster

    Dec 23, 2011
    We have 2 black labs -- 14 month old and an old lab that I think is about 8 yrs old. We got chickens and young guineas last fall and the older dog didn't bother them at all although we never let them out of the run without us being close by. Hubby taught the older dog. At that time we had another dog and she killed 2 guineas and we gave her away -- couldn't train her at all. Then we got the 14month old black lab pup and haven't had any trouble with her. Hubby takes it slow and works with the dogs and would let the chickens out of the run for a while and watch the dogs then pen up the chickens and guineas again. After about a week we just let the chickens and guineas free range unless we were leaving for the day. '
    We have never had any problem with any of our dogs bothering the fowl except the dog that killed 2 guineas-- she had been sick so that might have been part of the problem.

    I want my guineas and chickens and ducks to free range to get rid of bugs, ticks, etc. I have gardens and flower beds but will figure out how to protect them from the birds. I have figured out the flower beds but not the garden yet. I 've had chickens and guineas on and off for many years and dogs (and cats) must learn about the birds here on our farm-- just like they have to learn not to bother the baby calves.
    Hope you figure out a way to let them free range.
  5. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    If you have 20 wooded acres you also have lots and lots of lovely predators who are literally going to come out of the wood work so to speak to snack on your free ranging flock. Free ranging is great for the chickens, not including the ones who get picked off, as long as you are ok with the occasional loss. Unfortunately once a predator finds your buffet they often stick around until they've cleaned out the easy food source.

    If I were you I'd look into the electric poultry netting that ChickensAreSweet mentioned and use that to make a moveable pasture for them. That would help a little in keeping some predators away from them as well as keeping them out of areas you don't want them in. And no, chickens are not smart enough to remember where an invisible boundry is in order to stay out of the dogs area. They pretty much just go where they want!

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