How dangerous is free ranging?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Hegatha, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. Hegatha

    Hegatha Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2011
    So I am going to be moving and my Best Friend let me know she would take all my chickens in till I had a new place. BUT she has a coop and 2.63 acres thats fenced about 5 ft tall and she wants the let them be able to free range and not be cooped up all the time. I am a little worried about it so how dangerous is it really?
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Well, yeah, it's pretty dangerous! Even during the day, chickens are often taken by hawks or roaming dogs. At night, there are raccoons, big owls, etc.

    *I* wouldn't do it myself. I love my chickens too much to risk them!
  3. gophert

    gophert Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 20, 2011
    I would guess that this is very specific to region. However, I will offer that I have friends who have had 10-15 chickens for a couple of years and let them free-range all day every day in their backyard which backs up to a wooded preserve. They have lost two birds to hawks during that time, but one was ill and not able to move well. The other people I know who have lost chickens lost them to their own dogs or to coons at night.
  4. frostbite

    frostbite Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2011
    Fairbanks, Alaska
    I don't know of anywhere on the planet where chickens can range freely without an abundance of predators.

    I have a fenced yard, with a chicken coop (remodeled from kid's playhouse). I'm going to make a small fenced and covered run for them when I'm not watching them, and let them range the yard in the daylight when I'm home and watching them, but hawks are still hunting during the day, so I'll be really watching them, because there is still a risk.
  5. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 10, 2011
    Durant, Oklahoma
    It really does depend on where they live and the amount and type of predators that live in the area. I live in town and free range my chickens everyday from sun up to sun set. I lock them up tight at night. I've only lost one chicken and that was to my own dog. I only have to really worry about is hawks and dogs. My girls have plenty of places to hide from hawks and dogs, but I'm at home all the time and even have a security camera watching over the backyard.

    If I lived in an area that is populated with lots of predators, I wouldn't let them free range at all. Of course I'm also mentally prepared to lose one to hawks too. A stray dog is another story, that would totally piss me off. DH wanted to kill our dog when it killed one, but I said no (still trying to find him a new home).
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2011
  6. TheIvoryKitty

    TheIvoryKitty Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 24, 2011
    Central California
    Chickens have the capacity and the instinct to be wild animals - especially if they have a roo with them. While there are a lot of predators out there, they know how to run away or fight if they need to. Of course it's a bit dangerous but they're not just going to fall over dead upon letting them out. You might eventually lose one or two but they'll have led a much fuller and happier life being free to roam.

    That's kinda how I've always felt about cats even though they lose a few years of life if they spend lots of time outside - they're just so much happier and healthier when they get to go out that I think it's a fair trade.
  7. Winston

    Winston Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 13, 2011
    I have only had chickens since march. I have 14 hens and 1 rooster. They are in a fenced off area using electric netting. They are free to come and go as the please. I do not even close the coop at night. Only lost one to my own dog before the electric fence. I live in rural Alabama surrounded by woods. We have hawks, coons, coyotes, dogs, etc... I would not try it without my electric fence.
  8. Hegatha

    Hegatha Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 13, 2011
    Well and were we live really we only have smaller hawks and dogs. Coons are not really common here bc the closest river or water source is about 20 miles away. My friend also has goats which the chickens will be living with. I guess I cant complain bc at least she will take them in for me for a year or longer and she did say she would only let them out when she is home.
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    When will lightning strike? When will someone run a red light and T-bone your car? Will the risk of that stop you from driving to the grocery store? We all live with some risk every day. The odds of your losing one to a predator is greater than getting your car T-boned, obviously.

    No one can say how dangerous it is in your circumstances for them to free range. Some of us can go years between predator attacks. Some have disasters about as soon as they try. A lot of us that normally free range occasionally lose one but accept that as the cost of them being able to free range.

    My parents kept a free ranging flock way out in the country, in a pasture right next to a woodland. They would go years between losses to predators, but occasionally a fox or dog would take an interest in the flock and have to be dealt with.

    I keep chickens in a different situation and take a lot more of an interest in them, including locking them up every night, which my parents never did. I had two losses in three years, until this summer. Then someone dropped dogs off for the good life in the country. That cost me 8 chickens. A fox has taken an interest in them, picking them off one at a time. That's another four gone. I have not managed to take care of the fox yet. Those are tough. A few days ago, I lost my first one to a hawk. Lightning obviously struck this summer for me. They are penned in the run now. I feel the odds are if I can get that fox, I can probably make another pretty good run free ranging without serious problems. Probably.

    All I can say is that you may be OK but you also have to be prepared that you may lose some.
  10. EMaker

    EMaker Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 19, 2011
    It's pretty much like putting out a luncheon/dinner buffet for any hungry passerby out there, no matter where you live. When you freerange, you WILL have losses.

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