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Keeping chickens free range 24/7?

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by hamedo92, Jan 8, 2017.

  1. hamedo92

    hamedo92 New Egg

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    Jan 8, 2017
    Hello everyone. I live in the city with almost .40 acres. I was wondering if there is a way to keep chickens free range 24/7? I am worried about predators like raccoons, opossums, and, falcons. Any have any ideas? Thanks.
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    You can keep them free-range 24/7 but for me to pull it off I have to have a larger buffer zone around them than what 0.4 acres provides. Distance allows for more protective perimeters. Also need cover and a rooster to make work. You can keep all but raptors out using electrified poultry netting but that may not be good in an urban setting. Foxes can scale most fences easily as can raccoons. You can protect birds from raccoons by getting them to roost up in locations raccoon can not climb to but that takes some design and materials selection. I would build a hardcore coop and work out from there to free-range.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  3. hamedo92

    hamedo92 New Egg

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    I see. This is quite difficult. I have ducks too so I want to keep everyone outside 24/7. The only problem is the predators. They have a chicken coop but the problem is that:

    They poop a lot.
    The ducks drink lots of water.
    Water in the coop doesn't drain fast, leading to mud and water areas. Not good for the flock.

    Trying to find a good solution. I thought about the electric fence and I don't think it will work out.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    What about using a chicken tractor?
     
  5. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Not to put too fine a point on it, but with only 0.4 acres, you are not "free ranging", you are "yarding". So you will be establishing a perimeter to keep your birds in and predators out. There are a lot of options, depending on how permanent you want to make it. Then there are other factors to consider such as wooded or open. If the land area is wooded, and there is a canopy of trees that extend over the property line, then those create an avenue for raccoons to simply walk over the top of your fence. They go up one tree outside your fence and come down another inside your fence.

    Assuming no worries there, the best solution I can think of to enclose that much area in the most secure way is electric poultry netting. That assumes a house or coop area that is not secure at night. Not closing the door to Coop Fort Knox.

    I don't know if you can make that 100% secure to all comers, but electric poultry netting would be the best place to start. A physical and mental barrier to keep birds in and predators out.
     
  6. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Electric fencing, if done right and properly maintained, will keep land predators out, but not owls.
     
  7. JanetMarie

    JanetMarie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Keeping the coop clean because of ducks requires removing the water dishes at night, then cleaning up all of the wet shavings and replacing with dry, clean shavings. I do this every night. Also for four ducks (Muscovies) the water dish is one gallon, so they cannot get into the dish to bathe.

    Replace the water first thing in the morning.

    Spring through fall is different, since they stay outside during the daylight hours.
     
  8. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    What is your location/climate?
    Ducks and chickens are better off in separate coops...coops that can be totally secured at night against predators.
     
    1 person likes this.
  9. hamedo92

    hamedo92 New Egg

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    Hmm. Well. I don't have a large flock. Maybe like 16 birds. .40 acres in a city is a lot. Especially for 16 birds. Climate is hot and humid mostly, in south florida. Majority of backyard is grass. My chickens are different. If I open the coop door at night, they want to go outside. I thought about electric fencing but won't work where a fence divides each neighbor. All of my yard is enclosed in a wooden fence. The thing is that I am at work from morning till near sunset. So I would like to just open the door and keep them outside till sunset. Maybe I should just keep ducks and chickens outside than close the coop at night? Also, maybe to make each coop separate?
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2017
  10. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Can you share a photo of your current coop setup? If I had to guess, it is not ventilated well enough for your climate. If it is hot and stuffy in there, they most certainly will vote with their feet and roost elsewhere, like the feral chickens in Key West do.

    But as is, even with wooden fences, what is to prevent any climbing predator from coming in to help themselves?

    Is then wooden fence on three sides, and how high is it? Can predators crawl under it as well as over it?
     

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