Keeping chickens without a run... permanent free-ranging?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by WhiteMountainsRanch, Feb 21, 2011.

  1. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This isn't something I plan on doing, so please no bashing or negative comments. *Edited to Clarify* I have roughly 80 chickens, but they are in coops and runs during the day and free-range in the afternoon and evenings.

    I'm not asking about simple free-ranging... I mean having chickens without a run or pen or fencing whatsoever, just a coop to go into at night.

    I am just curious, since people have had chickens for thousands of years and I'm sure not all of them were in pens; how many people have a coop for their chickens to go into at night and then just let them out during the day, all day everyday? How does it work, do you lose a lot of birds? Do they get smarter/ heartier over time and "learn" to be more self sufficient? Do they revert to become more "wild"? Does it draw predators more than if your birds were fenced in?

    Any and all info would be great!

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2011
  2. <3ChickenForever

    <3ChickenForever Fire Is Catching

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    It's better to have a coop so you can keep count of all of them. I let them out everyday to let them get their excrise and pick at the grass. Then they all go back in the coop for the night. It keeps them safe from the predators.
     
  3. jcbydesign

    jcbydesign Out Of The Brooder

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    I have three girls that I let out in the yard every morning. They put themselves away in the coop around 5pm. (I lock up the coop after them, of course!) I am building a run for them so that my spring flowers will have a chance to grow up. I plan on letting them out for a few hours in late afternnoon so they can have some free range time. If I didn't love my garden so much I wouldn't bother with a run. Lots of people free range their chickens. I haven't had any problems with predators - but they have trees and bushes to hide under. They still come running up to me whenever I go into the yard. [​IMG] Hope this helps.
     
  4. sadies0111

    sadies0111 Out Of The Brooder

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    I am curious about what answers you are going to get. I got my first chicks this winter, and plan to let them free range all day long as soon as the snow melts. When the weather is nice enough, I do let them out for most of the day. They have been venturing further away from the coop, but still close enough. We live out in the country, and i've seen racoons, fox, and hawks in the area. So far, though, even at the end of winter, when I would assume the predtors are getting pretty hungry, we haven't had any problems.
     
  5. lynnemabry

    lynnemabry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have a coop but no run. When I am home with the dogs out I let them free range. This works fine but when I was letting them out when I wasn't home a bobcat got two of them. Nobody was home to chase the bobcat away. Since then, no problems.

    I would like to have a run and I probably will build one next summer. Just so that they have more room. I will probably still free range as much as possable. The chickens like to eat my poison oak and I LOVE THAT. Plus it is amusing to watch them roam the property.
     
  6. Pinky

    Pinky Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you free range, you will loose some birds. I have one flock that free ranges from sun up to sun down. They are more jumpy because they have to be able to escape danger. They are still very tame and do not hesitate to come up to me for a treat or when I feed them. I have three that always follow me to the waterer and drink from it while I am filling it up. I think they are somewhat smarter than my other chickens too.
     
  7. Sir Birdaholic

    Sir Birdaholic Night Knight

    I free range, but my Turkeys are very good protectors from hawks, & my dogs get anything that tries to get inside the fence.
     
  8. elmo

    elmo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Of course you'll lose chickens (to predation) and eggs (laid out in the field someplace where you can't find them). If you're going this route, I would be very careful about choosing the breed of chicken. Many of the modern breeds have been bred specifically for egg production and not for survival instincts. If you pick a wilder type breed closer to the natural jungle fowl you might get a higher survival rate.
     
  9. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

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    We free-range dawn to dusk 365 days per year. Numbers tend to range between 40 - 300 chickens at a time, plus geese, ducks and turkeys. Winter is on the low end, for obvious reasons, spring, summer and fall being on the high end. Yes, you're going to have losses. Some just aren't thrivers and don't do well, others may get picked off by predators. The extent of those losses will depend on your setup, the predator pressure in your area, etc. And IME tend to happen most often before 10-12 weeks of age. Either they get smarter as they get older or as they get picked off only the smart ones are left to grow up, you decide. [​IMG]

    All of our birds, chickens included, put themselves to bed just before dusk (actual time varies with the seasons, from 4:30 in the winter to as late as almost 10:00 pm in the summer).
     
  10. heritagehabitatfarms

    heritagehabitatfarms Chillin' With My Peeps

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    my parents have a good coop and no run... they had a great dog and no losses but when she died(she was 11) they started to lose some... in 8 months they killed 34 coons and lost about 15 chickens to the coons and other things... so they got another dog lol... no problems sense then...

    my old neighbors had a wild flock of mixed American games... they had 2 LGD for there goats and the chickens roosted in the barn and trees... the hens where forever hatching chicks out... i remember one time i was over there and i saw 12 broody's with baby's... they had the flock for over 20 years with no new blood added... i will always regret not getting a start from them... he got sick and sold the goats and dogs and as many of the chickens as ppl could catch... and with out the dogs there the rest off them got killed off within a month...
     

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