For those of you that let your chickens out...was wondering how far different breeds travel from the roost/coop? And preference of terrain...wooded, pastured, paved? Especially the small "flying" birds like sebrights, japanese, etc.
I think my girls would put on their bonnets and go to town if I let them!! We have 2.5 acres for them to free-range, but they still have to roam on my neighbors yard. They've been known to visit as far as 3 houses down!! That's well over 2/10 of a mile away!! Thank goodness I have nice neighbors who actually get a kick out of seeing my chickens scratch around in their yards. I have one RIR that even crosses the road!! The Light Brahmas are the worst though and seem to be the ring-leaders!! My Black Giants stick pretty close to home and are so sweet tempered. The White Rock rooster I used to have actually led the hens right down the center of the road one day last summer, like he was leading a parade!! The little stinkers!!
I read that they can travel up to 19 miles if they want. I had a pullet (Jezzabell) when I allowed her to free range she would travel three and four houses away. (We all live on one acre lots). Jezzebell earned her name in gold. At night all the others pullets would return to their coops. Not Jezzy. She would not come home at night. She would return in the morning and squawk at our window at the crack of lite. Then during the day she would roam three to four acres away and walk the fence (shaking her tail feathers at the roosters in their caged pen). I think it depends on your bird. All of our chickens are now cooped and caged. Including Jezzy. It took us a week to catch her.
We have 5 acres, about half wooded. Mostly they range in the open areas to get bugs, and nap just inside the forest line. However, right beside the forest turned out to be good eating grounds for coyotes, so they are now caged.
If predators aren't a problem, I'd let them range - it's GREAT! I had no bugs on my house last summer, maybe 2 spider webs in August (when normally I was calling the Orkin Man to come take down a couple dozen a couple of times). Now we let them out when supervised, but they rarely left our actual property. You can see what kind we have listed below.
We have about 75 free roaming chickens of several brreds at the stables and each little "set" or flockhas their own daily tour. There is a bunch of Dominiques that got out into the woods and hang out to scare be bejeebers out of the horses by rustling the bushes (the oldtimers are used to them , but riding new horses up that trail the first few times is ALWAYS fun...)They also hang out around the wedding gazebo. Maybe 300 yrds from the barn.
There is another bunch that heads down the drive way and out near the hay and pond (this includes the goose that thinks she is a chicken. She will play in a kiddie pool, but won't go near the pond)They range about 3-500 yrds. The ugly silkie, some barred rocks a few RIR and bantys
The little EE banty roo comes and goes all around and in the barn.
Another group goes all the way up the driveway and hang out in the front pasture and make customers stop to let them run back and forth. 1/4 mile. (BO and Golden Polish roos and black sex link, RIR hens)
Then there are the adventurous ones that actually cross the road and take up residence in the old barns in the pasture across the street. They range over several acres and we never know where they will pop up. Every so often they will come back to the barn for a few days, then they will be back across the street.
All except for the ones across the way come back to the barn area to roost either near the nest boxes, in cedar trees, or on the farm machinery.