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frustrated with free-ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bucolic beauty, Aug 13, 2011.

  1. bucolic beauty

    bucolic beauty Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 16, 2011
    Drain, OR
    It's my own fault for not really understanding the destruction and mess which leads to frustration that comes with free-ranging chickens. I'm considering downsizing our flock(currently 20+)and limiting their time spent free-ranging(it's currently 10:30 am until bedtime). I'm just curious if anyone else has found themselves in a similar situation and how you dealt with it.
     
  2. mercedes

    mercedes Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 4, 2010
    TX
    Many years ago,at the insistence of my former husband,the flock would always free range.It was a big hassle finding the eggs and one by one the chickens would always either disappear or I would come home from work to find piles of feathers or torn up chicken parts.Now they have a coop with two large runs(12X24 and 10X10)and I have not lost any to predators and always know where the eggs are.I would never endanger their lives again just because "they look so happy scratching around the yard"Bet they were not happy when the fox carried them off.
     
  3. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 27, 2010
    Colorado
    mine have over 300 acres to free range, they stay inside the pole barn out of the sun, during the day...then in the evenings, they roam around the corals etc...so far they all have themselves tucked in by 7pm...sooner here I would think with fall coming and the sun going down earlier...no sense in torturing yourself or them...see if you can do as poster above stated, build a bigger run, and leave them in..maybe downsize a bit, to make them all fit...
     
  4. tarragon

    tarragon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 3, 2011
    Bothell, WA
    Quote:I'm starting to feel the same way, and I only have 3! Currently they get let out into the yard at around 9 or 10 and are out until they go to bed around 8:30. After a few weeks of them choosing the patio, instead of the grass, as the best place to spend the day, we put up some moveable fencing. We've been moving it every 2 weeks so the grass doesn't disappear. But just this week they've gotten so destructive-digging dust bath craters in the grass instead of in the nice soft dirt area, scratching up entire plants in search of bugs....

    I'll be interested to know what advice you get and what you decide. I like the idea of them eating grass and bugs, and I could choose one area and just keep them there, but they won't have grass for long.
     
  5. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Quote:Free ranging is not such a problem if one is prepared and protects their flock. Actually, it's the only way I would even keep chickens because happy does matter when it comes to animal stewardship. A caged life is barely a life.

    Free ranging takes some prep work and daily vigilance....if one isn't going to put in the work, one can't stand back and say they fully tried the method. You really can't turn out your flock with a kiss for luck and hope you do well!

    It's my own fault for not really understanding the destruction and mess which leads to frustration that comes with free-ranging chickens

    This is the statement of someone coming face to face with reality....I salute you!

    Good fencing around things you want to grow without chicken predation. Good guard dogs around the flock that you want to grow without animal predation....or at least electric netting, electric fencing, some kind of livestock guardian.

    Reducing your flock will not keep the chickens from eating your flowers, dusting in your garden, scratching out your landscaping. Free ranging takes initial work and outlay of money for safeguards and a realistic expectation of just what chickens do all day. They are destructive to plant life and your yard in general. They are top on the predator's food list.

    I provide good fencing for areas that need to grow things, good perimeter fencing around my acre and also electric wireless fencing for the two LGDs that protect the flock. Then I eliminate likely nesting areas that aren't conducive for egg recovery....and you still can't stop all the outside the coop egg laying. This is something you just accept and roll on. Retrain to the nests on occasion and do your daily search for places you've seen your hens tend to favor....on top of hay bales, behind the shed in the weeds, etc.

    Is it worth it all? YES. To see chickens clean and healthy on green grass instead of a slimey brown run or dusty brown run, whatever the season, is worth it. To not smell any bad smells because they are ranging on a wide area that absorbs the fecal matter like nothing...it's worth it. To eat eggs that do NOT taste just like storebought eggs is way worth it. To see my dogs performing a function, being just dogs out on the green grass, having a purpose in life besides keeping the couch down, is worth it! To see chickens getting to socialize, forage and dust or sun out in the fresh wide open...way worth it.

    I'd say adjust your expectations, keep your good flock and try harder to make it happen...and you may just find it worth it! [​IMG]
     
  6. mulewagon

    mulewagon Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 13, 2010
    Alabama
    I let mine out about an hour or an hour and a half before bedtime each evening - that way they don't roam far, and they've already laid their eggs in the nest boxes. We put wire rings around the trees and plants that we don't want dug up.

    With a previous flock, let out all day, they gradually stopped laying in the nestboxes, and started hiding nests. Also a fox found them, and it was smarter than the dog. [​IMG]

    So I think the current arrangement is a good compromise. They're getting a lot of good nutrition, we're getting the eggs, and haven't lost any so far (knock wood!)
     
  7. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    You never really said how much acreage your flock has to free range, it's bound to make a difference, and what kind of things are they destroying. It can get frustrating when they seem to do exactly what you'd rather they don't do in the first place, like staying within the bounds of their protective playpen, I finally gave up wrangling the chicks back, hey if they can fly to the top of the fence, methodically, and jump out - the day all eleven are out I decided to leave the gate open, looks like they can take care of themselves (as far as against the big chickens)
    I suppose it's a matter of what you can and cannot live with, is a pretty flower bed important? Choose instead a plant they won't eat and actually does better with them scratching new seeds into the soil (marigolds) Don't like them kicking all the mulch out of beds? Put in ornamental stone. Do you have an ornamental tree they are tearing up - is it the only tree they have? Lots of variables in chicken behavior and your circumstances are different from mine for sure, how about a timer on the pop hole that will let them out when you can't that can limit the hours of destruction....I think you should ask yourself how much you can take, and then find a workable solution.. Imagine them all standing in their pen, by now a bleak and barren wasteland staring wistfully at your yard, or hopping up to grab a bug justbeyound their reach..the country is perfect for chickens, suburbia not so much, but there are workable solutions...I bet you can find alot of them here in byc![​IMG]
     
  8. eggdd

    eggdd Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 12, 2011
    Quote:Free ranging is not such a problem if one is prepared and protects their flock. Actually, it's the only way I would even keep chickens because happy does matter when it comes to animal stewardship. A caged life is barely a life.

    Free ranging takes some prep work and daily vigilance....if one isn't going to put in the work, one can't stand back and say they fully tried the method. You really can't turn out your flock with a kiss for luck and hope you do well!

    It's my own fault for not really understanding the destruction and mess which leads to frustration that comes with free-ranging chickens

    This is the statement of someone coming face to face with reality....I salute you!

    Good fencing around things you want to grow without chicken predation. Good guard dogs around the flock that you want to grow without animal predation....or at least electric netting, electric fencing, some kind of livestock guardian.

    Reducing your flock will not keep the chickens from eating your flowers, dusting in your garden, scratching out your landscaping. Free ranging takes initial work and outlay of money for safeguards and a realistic expectation of just what chickens do all day. They are destructive to plant life and your yard in general. They are top on the predator's food list.

    I provide good fencing for areas that need to grow things, good perimeter fencing around my acre and also electric wireless fencing for the two LGDs that protect the flock. Then I eliminate likely nesting areas that aren't conducive for egg recovery....and you still can't stop all the outside the coop egg laying. This is something you just accept and roll on. Retrain to the nests on occasion and do your daily search for places you've seen your hens tend to favor....on top of hay bales, behind the shed in the weeds, etc.

    Is it worth it all? YES. To see chickens clean and healthy on green grass instead of a slimey brown run or dusty brown run, whatever the season, is worth it. To not smell any bad smells because they are ranging on a wide area that absorbs the fecal matter like nothing...it's worth it. To eat eggs that do NOT taste just like storebought eggs is way worth it. To see my dogs performing a function, being just dogs out on the green grass, having a purpose in life besides keeping the couch down, is worth it! To see chickens getting to socialize, forage and dust or sun out in the fresh wide open...way worth it.

    I'd say adjust your expectations, keep your good flock and try harder to make it happen...and you may just find it worth it! [​IMG]

    this.
     
  9. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    I couldn't imagine having to pen my girls permanently, although they do have a huge 16x36 run. We went with decorative rock rather than mulch in our landscaping, which largely (not totally) stops digging there. We keep a hose handy for dropping on the sidewalk/porch. I don't really do dainty plants - mostly shrubs, so they really don't bother my landscaping. We DO fence our garden when we're putting one out. I have dogs and cats, so I guess my tolerance to my yard looking less than pristine is pretty high [​IMG]
    But if you decide to contain them, then make sure the run is really BIG, not just the min. 10 sq. ft. per bird often recommended. And as others have suggested, just let them out of the evening time - limited exposure surely will cut down on whatever they're doing to upset you.
     
  10. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Chillin' With My Peeps

    My hubby has found that the foxes, wolves, and other predators keep away while he plays his Political talk radio prorams! The chickens seem to enjoy the constant babbling of the men on the radio. Honestly! They hunker 'round, as if they enjoy the conversation.
     

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