Hello from Italy

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by zia gallina, Feb 5, 2015.

  1. zia gallina

    zia gallina Hatching

    Feb 5, 2015
    Porziano, Assisi, Italia
    I am an American expat living and farming in the mountains of Assisi (Italy). I have wonderful farming friends but miss the opportunity to have a dialog or ask questions in English. I also miss the way so many of my American friends consider animals as companions not just dinner. This year I have committed to wild farming and raising my birds ("miei nipoti"--my grandchildren--I tell my Italian neighbors) as close to a natural, but still protected life, as I can manage.

    Here is my question, perhaps it is more of a philosophical dilemma: I am trying to find a balance between keeping my animals safe from predation and letting them live free: roaming and foraging where they wish during daylight hours. We bought this farm in October and having this much wild property is still very new to us. Our land (half woodlands) is home to wild boar, foxes, wolves, owls, and vipers. I would never kill these animals, they keep the local ecosystem in balance. But I am having difficulty with the idea of my birds free ranging and being carried off by a fox (they are around in the daylight too) or a snake getting into a hen or duck nest and eating the babies. Right now, deep winter, the ducks and hens are closed in separate barns at night with lovely straw covering the cement floors. But in April, my mallard ducks will want to build their nests outdoors, and though we have sturdy fences, they will be sitting ducks to whomever scales the fences. In April the overgrown gardens will be cut back and I want the chickens to forage at will (which they love), so much wonderful free food. And they would do me the great favor of leaving fertilizer for the next crop. My worries remind me of hovering over my children at two years old: how much freedom and at what price? I wonder how others find the balance?

    I am not really sure of forum protocol--have I already written too much? I am hoping for discussions helpful with wild (poultry) farming: and specifically within this forum, for ideas on nurturing and preserving the essential "chickenness" of our flocks, whether they provide food or bug control or companionship. Years ago, I was an animal rights advocate thinking this was the way to go to ensure that animals had intrinsic rights. Now I am a much mellowed teacher, working to bring young people back to the land. But I still struggle with protecting one species over another and where to draw the line.

    This forum looks amazingly wonderful. I am so thankful to have found it. I spent the morning reading and have barely scratched the surface of what you offer.

    Most people call me Zia Gallina, which is the name I use professionally. It means Auntie Hen.
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Welcome and lucky you for living in Assisi.

    I don't worry about snakes and I have lots of them. I worry the chickens will kill and eat them.
    As for other predators, I keep a good rooster with each foraging flock and that does the trick most of the time. There is no perfect solution other than keeping them in a Fort Knox type structure and then they don't get to do what chickens do.
    We have all those predators and hawks, mink, weasels, coyotes, raccoons, opossum and neighbors' dogs and cats.
    I probably wouldn't worry about the wild boars unless you had birds nesting outdoors. I think chickens can escape them.
    I'm not a duck keeping expert so perhaps others will chime in.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  3. BantamFan4Life

    BantamFan4Life LOOK WHAT YOU MADE ME DO.

    Jun 15, 2012
    Welcome to BYC! I'm glad you joined us!
  4. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years.

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Welcome to BYC, I think chickens that have never free ranged don't miss it. If they have a large, securely fenced and hopefully covered run with props to make it interesting ( actual branches for roosts), hanging head of cabbage to jump and peck at, a sandbox for dust baths etc. they won't miss being free.. Predators not only gruesomely kill poultry but, worse yet is when they incur horrible , disfiguring wounds on their prey that survive to be attacked again. Some are so traumatized they will not set foot outside the coop.

    I think as humans we picture a certain life for birds, dogs, cats and set out to give it to them thinking they won't be satisfied without it. I raised dogs many years and my dream was to be able to fence our property so they could run free without kennel runs. When we finally got the fence up, I turned them loose- they looked around a bit and came back to the door. They had no interest in trying their "wings" , they wanted to be back inside with people. Maybe different breeds would have loved exploring the boundaries. The breed I had were people dogs and wanted to be with humans. All that money spent - and many attempts to get them to play outside was just a big failure.

    They were already content and I didn't even realize it.
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2015
  5. theoldchick

    theoldchick The Chicken Whisperer

    May 11, 2010
  6. Kelsie2290

    Kelsie2290 Free Ranging

    Feb 18, 2011
  7. ChickyChickens

    ChickyChickens Chickening Around

    May 24, 2014
    BYC? Epic <3
    My Coop

    Welcome to BYC!!! There are loads of members on here…so if you have ANY questions…just ASK!!!

    Hope you have loads of fun and all your answers answered here on BYC the BEST CHICKEN KEEPING FORUM on EARTH!!

  8. Mountain Peeps

    Mountain Peeps Change is inevitable, like the seasons

    Apr 23, 2014
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC! Please make yourself at home and we are here to help.

    X2 on drumstick diva.

    Raccoons are one of the most clever and sneaky predators out there. Defiantly be careful if they live in your area.
  9. Wyandottes7

    Wyandottes7 Crowing

    Jul 24, 2013
    Welcome to BYC! [​IMG]I'm glad you joined us.

    You've received some good advice already from Drumstick Diva. Good luck with your future flock!
  10. equinealot

    equinealot In the Brooder

    Feb 23, 2013
    Cool Idea about hanging a head of cabbage. Just getting started myself. Learning a lot from this web site. Older 4 to 6 week old are in my 2 stalls I converted into a chicken pen. Two week old chicks are in the house graduating to cooler temps. Adult RIR Roo & 1 hen are in another pen. They are ones I rescued from running loose & getting beat up. I have started fermenting their feed & what a difference it has made in the baby chicks in the house. I will start working on their covered runs soon. I enjoy just watching the baby chicks in the house.

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