Is Free-ranging even an option???

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Brian, Feb 6, 2008.

  1. Brian

    Brian Songster

    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    The last time I had chickens, I had no predator problems during the daytime. Now, I live in a part of the country with bountiful wildlife, and I have seen hawks in the area. I've built my coop, and have my chicks (indoors, in the brooder for now), but the day will come when I decide to let them free-range, with all the benefits therein, or to build a covered pen. Hmm?

    What's your opinion? All the benefits of chickens in one's backyard can now be dismissed, if it's too dangerous to let them out.

  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    If you have seen hawks you can best believe they will do anything to have a free chicken dinner when you have free ranging chickens. If you have hawks, there is sure to be owls at night as well.

    I would build a covered run. Don't use chicken wire. Use good welded wire with a small enough mesh that weasels, rats, racoons and possoms can't get through it with an arm or a snout.
  3. palabeco

    palabeco Songster

    Oct 29, 2007
    S.W. PA
    I free range right now, there are hawks, fox, coyote here, I guess we are taking chances, but we we do have two dogs tied near the range area, so maybe that helps.
  4. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    Hi Brian - I live in the country - have every predator known to man and hawks circle daily in groups of 8-10. I let my girls free range. They instinctively know when to hide. As long as there's lots of brush and bushes for them to hide under, they'll be o.k. (in my humble opinion, legal disclaimer added). I also have a great German Shepherd who has guarded them since they were day olds and he doesn't let any other type of predator on property. He stays out loose at night in order to protect (we are surrounded by thousands of acres of woods and no neighbors). Even in Covington, a rural/woodsy area outside New Orleans where we lived till a month ago I let my girls free range. Their run there had no top and I never closed the coop door, they were free to come and go as they pleased. Here there is also no top to run but they don't stay in there anyway they can always be found running around property and following me wherever I go. I do, however, close and lock coop at night so now they have to wait for me to let them out each morning.

    I will always praise the advantages of free ranging because they have so much fun and so do I. So far, thank God, I've not only never lost a bird, I've not had one sick or any problems with pecking each other and they are all different ages. They just have so much fun and exercise running around all day that they are tired and ready for roost at end of day.
  5. HenHappy

    HenHappy Songster

    Feb 16, 2007
    on my way to you....
    All I can tell you about is my situation and hope that helps. I live on six acres of woods. Lot's of predators and I also have about 30 turkey vultures that use my trees for nesting (oooooo what a stink!!!) My girls only free range with my supervision. Is it possible to let them out for a few hours under you/or someone in your households care? My girls get a couple of hours out in the evenings when I get home from work, week-ends, and days off. They seem content with that, and boy do they look forward to me comming home!!!
  6. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    Brian, because we have only five chickens, we keep them in an entirely enclosed situation. Losing even one would be significant.

    If you have more than 15, I imagine a loss or two or a bird you may not have gotten to know too well, might be within range of acceptability.
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2008
  7. tinman9952

    tinman9952 In the Brooder

    Dec 30, 2007
    I lost 6 chickens in one day to either a cayote or a bob-cat. I'm thinking now having a yard dog is key to providing them with protection.
  8. Sharisr32

    Sharisr32 Egg Killer ;)

    Jan 14, 2007
    OH/PA Boarder
    I tried it - now mine are all in cages - after dog attacks,hawk attacks, coon attacks - I agree with above find tiny wire cuz it is ugly when a coon pulls them through-
    I'd try a few and see if it works for you in your area - the trouble seems to start when the roo start crowing --
  9. Brian

    Brian Songster

    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    If I do build a run, what about the ceiling netting. Does this have to be sturdy wire, or will polypropylene deer netting do?
  10. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    If you close the coop tightly at night, deer netting will genreally keep hawks out. Coons at night can go though it though, so keep an eye on it's integrity.

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