just moved chickens to the ranch, introducing them to free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by katydidit, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. katydidit

    katydidit Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2011
    We just moved from a little lot in the city (along with our 4 hens and 2 dogs) to a beautiful 7 acre ranch in the mountains. Our chooks have always been confined to a run/coop, and while it was rather spacious, they have never been allowed to "free range". Now that we have built their new run/coop up here (20'x10' run for 4 birds, lol...) I am interested in letting them free range during the day. They are only 8 months old, but I'm worried that if i let them out of their run, they will take off for good.

    I would appreciate any advice you have on how to do this "right". Next spring, I plan on getting another half dozen hens and a couple roos (for protection). Mind you, red tailed hawks, golden eagles, racoons, and opossums have all be spotted on our property. And coyotes/bears/cougars are around as well. Would I be foolish to free range them? I feel like I'm a mean mom closing them in when there are plenty of bugs and goodies to forage through on the hill.

  2. NovaAman

    NovaAman Overrun With Chickens

    Keep them confined to their new home for a few weeks, and then let them out. They will go HOME at night. You could also give them supervised free range time...

    You could also get a chainlink fence, or something like that, and give them a semi free range yard space. 4-50ft rolls of wire fencing, give them a 50ftx50ft yard space. Won't stop the hawks, but they also wouldn't wander as far. My girls free range and go home at night. Not a problem. They know where home is as will go there.
  3. katydidit

    katydidit Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 10, 2011
    they have been in their run (a chainlink/hardware cloth mix) with a roof for a couple of weeks. I would definitely keep watch over them - obsessively probably. I guess they know where the food is? I'm worried they will fly off and not come home [​IMG] should i clip their primaries? or would that inhibit them from getting away from predators?

    Any other advice? They have such a large run, its not a matter of them not having enough room. I just want them to be able to scratch around and be normal chickens. lol
  4. Bear Foot Farm

    Bear Foot Farm Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 31, 2008
    Grifton NC
    You'll find they will seldom go more than 100 yds from the coop

    Any other advice?

    Stop worrying so much and just enjoy the chickens [​IMG]
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2011
  5. Yonaton

    Yonaton Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 28, 2007
    West TN
    If it's already been a few weeks in the new place, let 'em out. They'll go home when it's time each evening.

    No, I would NOT clip their wings if you're free ranging them on that much property, because as you said, they may need that to help them get away from something. Chickens are bottom of the food chain (except for the bugs and small critters). Even hungry domestic cats will sometimes kill a chicken to eat, so the predators you're just going to have to put up with, unless you like the idea of extermination of all wildlife in your area other than your chickens. Make sure the coop is solid and critter-proof and more than likely unless you have a fox or two nothing will get them during the day (mine are large enough now that a local red-tail hawk can land in the yard 40 feet away from the flock and they don't even hardly look over at it anymore. An eagle may be a different story, not sure since we don't have any around here).

    Like another said, if all you're gonna do is worry yourself sick all the time, leave 'em in the run. If you can learn to let 'em be and let the rooster do his best to protect from whatever, you'll be a lot happier, the birds will be a lot happier and the eggs will taste a million times better for it too.
  6. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    I agree, let them out...they will safe if they can get under trees...mine have over 300+ acres to roam, they seldom go farther than 100 yds or so...always come home....

    Yours will love it and it will show in the quality of eggs![​IMG]
  7. AlienChick

    AlienChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 9, 2010
    Glasgow, KY

    I have 15 acres that the chickens are allowed to free range over, but they rarely go much beyond 100 yards.

    They like to stay close to home where it's safe.

    As the sun goes down, they'll all wander back inside the coop.

  8. juliawitt

    juliawitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 9, 2009
    I also live on 7 acreas. However, I have coyote, bobcats, opossums, skunks, neighbor dogs and raccoons. So, I only freerange when I'm home and only for a few hours at a time. Because the dogs or coyotes may run through the property at anytime with no real notice, I needed a way to call them and know they would obey. Mine have learned to come instantly when I call "chook, chook" and shake a red can filled with scratch. My yard is over a half and acrea and it's hysterical to see how fast they run, fly, waddle and jump to come back and get the corn. So, I would suggest getting them used to some sort of treat, and some type of call. Just figure out what, and begin to call and give treats while they are confined. After several days of this (they learn quick when food is involved), they will follow you like puppies.
  9. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    I have coyotes, fox, skunk, hawks, eagles, dogs, etc....mine have plenty of space to hide, and thanks to my roos, always looked after.

    Use your best judgement...mine free range all day, they put themselves in at night...in 2 years, no losses.
  10. christineavatar

    christineavatar Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2011
    Bolinas, CA
    I put a 'fence' up. It is metal 6' poles and a plastic mesh that I've attached with plastic ties. That has proven to be effective during the day to ward off daytime hunters. I have heard that hanging old CD's on a string helps ward off flying predators. Good luck with your new home!

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