How Do You Protect Your Free Ranging Flock?

BekkiH

In the Brooder
7 Years
Oct 2, 2012
68
3
41
Obviously, I know that free ranging chickens comes with risk. I get that. But I feel like I have just been scarred by the losses we have had.

I got six FBCM chicks last November. Didn't let them free range until they were bigger than my cats (who don't both them, anyway).

Everything was fine until one night, I was home alone with sick kids and completely forgot to lock them up at sundown. We lost one of the girls that night.

A couple weeks later, a neighbor's dog somehow got out of their electric fence, and made off with another one of the girls, and slaughtered my beloved roo. In broad daylight.

I was beyond devastated, and ended up sending my remaining hens to live on a friend's farm until we could get our bigger coop with a good, secure run.

We finally got the new coop a few weeks ago, picked up our three girls and got another roo. The run is not too big, and I do want them to be able to free range at least some of the time. We have a serious tick problem on my property, and our county is the worst in the country for Lyme disease, so it seems like win-win.

I was super careful with free ranging this time. Waited until well after sun up to let them out, and always called them back to the run with treats by 3:00 or so.

Day one - no problems.

Day two - two girls just vanished, without a trace. This happened before 3pm, so again, in broad daylight.

So four out of my five FBCM hens lost, before they were even old enough to start laying. :(

Now I am down to one roo, one FBCM hen, and four red sex links I purchased last week. They are fully grown and just starting to lay.

I have let them out once, under strict supervision. But I'm way too scared to let them out of my sight.

Our property is mostly wooded, so there are a lot of places for predators to hide and sneak up carefully. Would cutting back some of the trees help? Maybe make them more visible to the chickens from far away, so they can run and hide?

Is there anything else you do to keep them a little extra safe?

Just looking for any ideas and advice. We are thinking about getting an electric fence so they have a larger area for foraging, but that still doesn't help our tick problem. =\
 

miquwid

Songster
6 Years
Feb 14, 2013
1,595
102
158
Western NY
My Coop
My Coop
is it possible to fence your property, maybe you doing have to cut down all the woods but a few for the fence? you could then put electric wire around it as well.
 

ChickensRDinos

Songster
7 Years
Aug 19, 2012
2,242
240
208
Los Angeles
Would a chicken tractor be possible or it is wooden area too dense? fencing for a wider area?

Have you considered getting some sort of guard animal? Guineas? Dog? Llama? etc?
 

zazouse

Crowing
10 Years
Sep 7, 2009
11,009
741
406
Southeast texas
If the woods are yours just clear out the brush, it is a work in progrees but that is how i keep mine safe along with the help of my dogs.



Best dog ever to keep bird safe, no critter even gets a chance to look at her birds, not even snakes.





These are my guns, they keep all the larger preditors at bay, we have a big big cat inthe area, i am very suprised it had not tried to get the ducks off the pond but so far so good so i guess the dogs are keeping her away as she is said to have younguns with her.

Sorry you have had losses
hugs.gif
I have alot of bird and plenty of land for them to range on, so dogs work well here, evey situation is different, if you have a small area i suggest a hot wire, i use them to keep my free rangers and other critters out of my gardens and it works very well.
 

JanetS

Songster
7 Years
Jun 22, 2012
1,099
64
153
We had to give up on letting our chickens free range. We have bobcats and hawks that would attach during the day.So we expanded their run and they have not been out since January. We're sad about this but feel it's the only way to keep our chickens safe. They are our pets so any loss is very hard. Good luck with your decision.
 

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