How do you winter your free range birds?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by iajewel, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. iajewel

    iajewel Songster

    Oct 22, 2008
    Corning IA
    [​IMG]I have a strange way of housing my birds for the winter and wondered if anyone else did something similar.. Yes.. I know Im strange LOL..

    I use a method similar to what I use for the cattle and horse during breeding season. I have large pens that I house the hens only in for winter. The roosters remain free range with small shelters set up near natural wind breaks, where I load the small shelters down with hay and they get along very well. I only keep 2-4 roos back.. so no need for a coop for them. My theroy is if they can't winter with out a heat lamp, they don't need to be producing chicks that will live in Iowa anyway.
    The hens in the spring are put in pens and seperated by breed, then the rooster is added untill they have gone to set. At that point the roo is removed again and when the chicks are old enough to run loose with the hen, the gates on all the pens remain open untill next late fall, when they are all sorted again.
    The fact they return each night to the pens means I can cull and butcher the young roos as needed or treat any of them for heath reasons etc, and worm/lice dip and so on. This also keeps my free range eggs in a single location.
    For 8-9 months of the year they are running on 30 acers.. and only penned ( the hens) for 3-4 months avrage..
    I noticed that most of my chicken freinds allow less range time, and keep the roos with the hens more often..
    Wondered if this was a method more people than I knew about used.. or.. Im strange?[​IMG]
  2. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Songster

    This sounds like a great idea. One question: Do you have a means of keeping unfrozen water to the roos?
  3. iajewel

    iajewel Songster

    Oct 22, 2008
    Corning IA
    unfrozen water for any of them is a trick question.. Yes.. I could put heaters out.. however, I hate winter.. hate it! I would never leave the house in the winter if given a choice. I need to get out and excersize.. so I don't put round bales out for my cattle.. I hand pitch from large round bales.. I don't put heaters out for the birds.. I water them 3 times a day. Its my way of making me stay active in a time I would sit in the house and do nothing but get fat.
    So could I.. yes.. I could.. do I.. no.. I don't.

    On a side note the birds get rather wild during the summer when they are ranging. The hand watering and hand feeding in the winter brings them back in to my hand and re-establishes our relationship. So they are more workable. I do give them treats at night in the summer to keep them comming when I call, but come fall, they are wild. So the watering many times a day, serves 2 purposes.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  4. bkbuz1987

    bkbuz1987 In the Brooder

    Aug 29, 2008
    I have five acres and wish I could let my birds free range BUT....

    so far we had a badger (it's now dead), fox, cyotes, red-tail and swanson hawks, golden eagle, great horned owl, skunks, raccons, dogs, and cats just on our property. A moutain lion was spotted just two miles away sooooo, I think we'll keep our gals in thier run.

    How many birds do you have and how many do you loose because of wild life? Just wondering [​IMG] Oh, and do you spend a lot of time hunting for eggs?
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2008
  5. iajewel

    iajewel Songster

    Oct 22, 2008
    Corning IA
    We also have coyotes, fox, badger, skunk, hawks and the entire range including a Mt Lion that does cross my property. Bob cats as well.
    I have lost ZERO birds this year to wild life or anything else. I have a standard Poodle that is excollent with the birds and watches them out my bedroom window at night. I have a pillow for her on the window sile so she can wake me up if need be. I have shot 1 coon this year due to her efforts.

    I have 5 breeding groups. Buff Cochins bannys, Partridge cochin bantams, Barred Rocks, Polish (buff lace) and a group Im playing with some color genetics. The avrage is one rooster and 3-6 hens per group.

    Nope.. don't hunt for eggs.. they come into the pens every night, I leave the gates open, they hang out, eat, lay eggs in the AM and then take off for the day. If I find myself looking for eggs, I shut the gate.. leave them in the pen untill evening (they would get to run after the eggs are layed), for a few days and they get back on track pretty fast.
    The hardest part is digging them out, clipping wings and sorting in the fall.

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