Letting them range without a run

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by climb2safety, Dec 23, 2012.

  1. climb2safety

    climb2safety New Egg

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    I am getting 25 egg layers in March and I have about 2.5 acres of pasture and about an acre of woods, and my question is it all right for them to free range without any fence or run? They will be cooped up at night but I would like them to have free roam during the day.
     
  2. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you give them all that room they will love you for it ... but if you do, I recommend keeping them in until they have laid for the day - or they will lay their eggs in their own secret places out in the bush. Also keep foxes etc in mind when you let your chickens out or you could lose them real quick! One other obvious point - if there is no barrier around your acres, your birds may decide to take a wander - and not come back. But apart from that - the property sounds like chook paradise - which could treat my chickens to a larger enclosure! Good luck! Is this your first flock?
     
  3. TallChickMagnet

    TallChickMagnet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I can't add to that, but...

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Nutcase

    Nutcase Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hey did you draw that yourself?
     
  5. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    A few issues may surface that aren't immediately apparent, at first blush. While a couple of acres sounds like a lot of space, the birds may likely travel further. Do you have any neighbors who might take offense at the birds coming onto to their property? The next issue is egg laying off site. Chickens do not automatically know we want them to lay eggs in the nests we provide for our easy collection. Without careful management, chickens have been known to prefer to lay their eggs all over a two acre lot, anywhere of their choosing.

    Finally, the predator issue comes into play with free roaming chickens. Losses can vary from just a few to many. Things are things to prepare for and plan accordingly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  6. arcy liger

    arcy liger Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just free range them every day but have a penas i'm not home or anything else........
    predator can be danger when freeranging or not (because outside they can run hide and protect them selves but in run if a predator comes they are helpless ) ..
    my security guards always are with them and tha chickens always wonder around them....[​IMG]
     
  7. my sunwolf

    my sunwolf Chillin' With My Peeps

    I ranged my chickens for months with no predator losses. Though we had foxes and hawks come to visit, we also had a 95lb doberman/rottweiler guarding them during the day. At night, they went in a pasture coop raised 1ft from the ground, no predator entry except for the very cunning ones (which we never had). I would keep them locked in a coop in a stable location for at least a week, maybe longer, before letting them out to free range, just to be sure they know where home is. To be sure they know where to lay eggs, put fake ones or golf balls in the nest boxes for that first week that they're locked in, and they'll figure it out. Sometimes you need monthly "reinforcement" days thereafter, where they are locked in on a really rainy day and are reminded to lay only in the nest boxes. I would also consider getting some sort of guard animal during the days, though beware of young dogs (I had some problems with a 1.5yr old who thought her training only applied when I was watching). Neighbors were never a problem for me because our acreage was so set back, but it is something to think about. With a few acres fenced only at the perimeter, many hens prefer to stay in the fenced area, though flightier birds and guineas will eagerly go beyond the borders and some will not come back. Good luck!!
     
  8. TallChickMagnet

    TallChickMagnet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    No, I got it from Google Images... [​IMG]
     
  9. fisherlady

    fisherlady Overrun With Chickens

    Climb2Safety... I have to agree with above, risks are definitely there when you free range, as are benefits. I don't know your area or predator issues you might risk but to help out the birds I would make an effort to place some strategic 'safe spots' around the property... such as low covered hidey holes for them to duck under if hawks or other airborn threats show up and some higher roosts scattered around in case stray dogs get onto the property. It isn't the perfect solution but should improve their chances if they have a few safe spots.

    Even if you don't expect to pen/fence them regularly I would make plans to find some type of fence or pen that can be placed in the location of your choice in case you need to keep a few of your chicks seperated for a while or keep them close to home while you are doing projects on your property. Even 4 ft roll fencing with push poles may work for that situation.

    Best of luck and enjoy the new property, sounds like chicken heaven!
     
  10. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    I think you will need a run, you don't have to use it all the time if you don't want to, but if you want to be gone for a couple of days, it does allow the birds some outside time. I don't think birds should be locked inside a coop any time.

    Predators will come to an easy meal, depending where you are, some predators are more concentrated, and in competition for food. Chickens are easy food, and once the predators find you, it is difficult to impossible to encourage them to leave. However, locking up the girls for several days, often times will get them to move on, but not always.

    I let mine free range, as much as possible, but I have a coop/run totally enclosed too. I really think that you will lose a LOT of chickens without it and maybe even ALL of your chickens. I have lost a lot of chickens through out the years due to predators. It is part of the risk of free ranging. Right now, I have had my girls in lock up, due to a predator situation. calling a trapper in.

    MrsK
     

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