Keeping chickens safe

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jerry613, Jan 2, 2014.

  1. Jerry613

    Jerry613 New Egg

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    Hi my name is Jerry . I live in Clyde, TX. Just outside Abilene. I am new to raising chickens. I am buying my 1st 25 in early Febuary. They are going to be totally free range. The coop I have is 11 ft. by 12 ft and is solidly reinforced. Also plenty of warm raised cubbie holes and warm out of the wind places to nest. My question is do i keep a chicken door to the coop open all day so they can come in at night? what about cats or something getting in that chicken door during the day? They wont be fenced in and there is virtually no dogs at all aroud just a few cats. So if I leave the chicken run door open during the day wont other animals get in ?
     
  2. maxpedley

    maxpedley Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they are totally free range their won't be a run. Only a coop. If you are referring to the coop it should be kept open all day and shut at night. This allows them to roost safely at night but lay eggs throughout the day. Cats are usually no problem with chickens and the chickens will usually show who is boss. However keeping them totally free range without some sort of protection like dogs is unwise. There are many predators who will make a quick snack out of chickens....
     
  3. Jerry613

    Jerry613 New Egg

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    ok thanks
     
  4. 1muttsfan

    1muttsfan Overrun With Chickens

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    Unfortunately free ranging chickens are never safe, there are many predators that love a free chicken dinner. Your coop should be open during the day so the birds can go in to get out of inclement weather and to lay their eggs, and be closed at night to protect them from even more numerous night time predators (it is very likely that there are all sorts of animals in your area that you do not see as they are only active after dark).
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    sorry to sound like a Debbie Downer, but in your area, totally free ranged chickens without some protection just sounds like an all-you-can-eat buffet. Have you talked to anyone local that free ranges? How do they protect their birds? What kind of losses do they take?
     
  6. Jerry613

    Jerry613 New Egg

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    Yes I know several who totally free range (no fences except coop) and yes they do have a loss once in a great while . there are coyotes, skunks, opposum, cats and dogs around and deer and racoon but of course they come out at night but no dogs to speak of though.none that roam loose anyway. I was wanting to totally free range but now maybe ill put them in a 100` x 50` run then let them totally free range when im home with my 50 cal. at the ready of course. :) Anyway thank you for all the help. I plan to get 25 layers 3 roosters and 15 more roosters for meat storage when i slaughter them.
     
  7. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    As previously stated, totally free ranged chickens are never safe. BUT having them in a coop or run doesn't mean they'll be 100% safe, either. If the run is not enclosed on top, birds of prey, coons, fox and other various critters can come in over the top. If it is enclosed, there is still a chance of a weasel or other small predator coming in through that one small gap that you missed. Everyone loves chicken!
    Someone stated above that "if they're totally free range there won't be a run". Not necessarily. You can still have a run and let them out of it. That's what I do. I have two coops (an 8x2' shed and 8x16' shed, actually) with attached 12x16' runs. The runs are there for the occasion that my son & daughter-in-law come to visit with their golden retriever who is not trained to be around chickens. Or for the occasional time that we're gone for a few days and don't have someone to let the chickens out and shut them in for the night. My chickens free range whether we're home or not, and until this summer, we have not had a problem. We live in a rural area and have coyotes, mink, weasels, hawks, eagles, skunks and possums around (and probably a few other things I have forgotten about). We have had a dog until June of this year when we had to put our 10-year old lab down because he had cancer. In July we were gone for a full 2 weeks (my mom was coming over and letting them out to free range in the mornings and locking them up at night) before the local coyotes figured out that there was no one around and took out 4 or 5 of them. They were kept in the run until we got home the next day, as Mom felt terrible. To answer your question, we keep the coop's pop door open 24/7 in the summer. I have closed it this past week with our cold temps, but you will most likely not see that kind of cold where you are ever, so you wouldn't need to worry about it. The pop door opens into the run, and we just open the run gate to let them out. Another nice thing about having a run is they can go out in the morning and not have to be...er, cooped up until we get out there in the morning.

    Edited to add - we do have a cat that gets into the coop through the pop door and steals eggs when she gets a chance. She helps keep the rodents down, though, so I don't mind sharing with her now and then. If I don't want her getting any eggs, I keep the run gate shut until they're done laying for the morning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2014
  8. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If hawks are a problem get a goose or two, they don't sleep and are excellent guardians. Shelters/coops should be near and help with aerial predators among other reasons. Smarter chickens work too; sounds stupid but many breeds have had their "run for your life gene" bred out. A chicken tractor that is moved daily multi-tasks; gives fresh grazing and safety from above. I don't use any netting above my chickens as it gets expensive. :)
     
  9. ChickenCurt

    ChickenCurt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, our coyotes come around at all hours here so even free rangers need a perimeter fence on the property. A good chicken dog helps too.
     

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