1. Come check out hundreds of awesome coop pages (and a few that need suggestions) in our 2018 Coop Rating Project!

How much of a loss is usually expected with free-ranging?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by itsy, May 20, 2011.

  1. itsy

    itsy Songster

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    I'm not sure if this is the best section of the forum to post this in.... but like my title asks, how many are you expected to lose while free ranging? We're on a farm and have open pasture and woods. We've seen all manner of predator, including fox. If we let our chickens free range.... what could happen? It a nice idea, but it makes me think that I'd want to have a massive flock just so if we lost a few... it wouldn't hurt the egg production too much.

    In addition to all the "normal" predators - we also have three neutered male barn cats who regularly take down wild rabbits. I can't remember the last time they took a bird.

    TIA [​IMG]

  2. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY
    Quote:I have been free ranging from 8 am to 8 pm everyday for 4 years. Lost 1 bird to my then puppy. My girs accidently LOST him on the property-by the time they found him it was too late and my favorite black polish was killed. At 8 pm they are all roosting and they get locked into their coops! It's up to you. I dont have chickens for egg production I have them for the love and fun so it would really hurt me if I lost one to a predator:(
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I think 10 to 20% loss annually is tolerable. If higher, then additional effort can be invested to control.
  4. LadyinRed

    LadyinRed Songster

    Sep 22, 2009
    Im with the above poster save for if there is a dog within a mile of you. In that case free range loss goes up to 90%-100% unless by the grace of god the dog is old and lazy.
  5. CMV

    CMV Flock Mistress

    Apr 15, 2009
    In the years I have been free-ranging I have lost a bird about every 6 months. Once I have a loss the birds go into lock down for several weeks until the predators are not hanging around looking for an easy meal. Once the threat has passed the birds go back to free-ranging, and all is well for another 6 months. I was overdue this year for a loss, but it finally happened last week. The birds are not happy with me this week. [​IMG]

    Good luck.
  6. itsy

    itsy Songster

    Mar 14, 2011
    New England
    Thanks for the info, everyone- We've had some wanderers over to our farm from neighboring farms: A herd of cows that showed up at our kitchen window while we were eating breakfast, and most recently dogs. While the cows could probably care less, I'm sure those dogs would love some tasty and fun-to-catch chicken!

    We'll stick to the tractors for now.

    ...but I will tell you how hard it is to move cows. I had no experience with them before. They wouldn't move for shouting, or pushing... lol. The only thing that got those girls to move was clapping!
  7. JPHorvath

    JPHorvath Chirping

    We have been free ranging from the start; in the past year we have lost about 4 birds. However they all were young when taken so in my opinion they really did not know what to identify as a threat. Additionally we have 3 Cockerels that are coming to one year old they keep watch out for the flock. Our property has plenty of small bushes for them to run under for cover.

  8. kelar

    kelar Songster

    May 22, 2010
    We free ranged our flock during the day for 10 years without a single incident. However, it was nothing but pure luck. In our case, it was a pair of coyotes that took out the flock - if I had not intervened, the loss would have been 100% without a doubt. Since, we've had losses to hawks, bobcat & coyote, so they are on lockdown except when their GSD protector is out with them.
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    It all depends on your flock protection. I've lost 3 to the sky in the past 5 years, but none to ground predation as my flock has been guarded by two faithful hounds. If you want to free range it is a great idea to have some dogs that challenge all four footed prowlers at all times of the night and day....if not, it all depends on the level of predation in your area and the ease of their making off with your flock.

    Few cats will take on a fully grown large breed chicken...they may make a sport of chasing them but your chicks and small pullets will be in danger from all sides.
  10. bryan99705

    bryan99705 Songster

    I lost 3 ducklings 3 years ago to ravens because of no pen cover, last year lost 4 full grown birds and a goose to a pair of foxes, (SSS took care of them) and had several close calls with ravens, and this year I've lost 1 goose to a raven but thats it. If a fox or a raven finds your flock, they'll keep coming back every couple days till you get them or you're wiped out. It's a crap shoot

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by