My ladies got to free range yesterday for the first time :-)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Renthorin, Jul 17, 2011.

  1. Renthorin

    Renthorin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2011
    Dexter Michigan
    Someone gave me 100-150 feet of ugly orange snow fence. I accepted it and thought I would just transfer it to the dumpster when they weren't looking but yesterday I got to thinking about how to make a larger run for the ladies.

    I want to free range my chickens but am worried about the coyotes and my one neighbor who would probably run over them if he got the chance.

    That being said, enter the snow fence. I ran it from the second door on the run (furthest from coop) out into the mowed part of the front yard and into the surrounding woods. I want to do more but this makes for a good start.

    Took me about two hours to get it all set up and sturdy, during which time the hens were all gathered at that end of the run watching and stamping their feet, as if impatient for what they knew was coming their way.

    When I was done, I opened the run door and they rushed past. There was an immediate thrashing of the leaves in the woods and scampering after all manner of creepy crawlies.

    I checked back periodically during the day and they were sometimes in the run drinking, dust bathing in their new 'free range' area, or even in the coop.

    Come dusk, I wondered if they would know to get back to the coop for roosting. I went out and there wasn't a hen in sight. I'll admit a moment of panic ensued as I imagined something had grabbed them all in the evening while I was away. I opened the coop door and they were all on the roost.

    Here are two crappy pictures of their new "free range" area.


  2. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    Great free-cycle use of the fencing. Will save you a bundle $$$. I have a large fenced area like that, and use it as needed and free range outside that zone also. My suggestion is to start free ranging later in the day. About 2 hours before dusk, let them out to free range and they will not go very far and able to get to the coop at dusk. Over time they will expand their free ranging zone to about 100 feet from the coop. Just FYI if you want to consider free ranging.

    Enjoy your hens!
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    I had to buy our girls green garden fencing. So jealous.

    Nice job btw, your chickens will love free ranging and happy chickens lay more eggs!
  4. Sandy16

    Sandy16 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 28, 2010
    What a great way to save $$ and recycle! Good for you. [​IMG]

    Oh yes, your ladies will love you even more now that they get to go out and free range!! And, you will probably save a little on feed because they will be getting all sorts of goodness from the earth. Isn't it nice to see them with freedom? We try to let our girls free range most of every day and they love it!

    congrats! [​IMG]
  5. Renthorin

    Renthorin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 13, 2011
    Dexter Michigan
    I got back home an hour or so ago and let them out into the 'free range' pen. They went crazy and started digging and dust bathing. I went inside to get a drink and came back out to find 3 of them in the yard...outside the pen.

    It is 96 degrees here today and that's pretty hot. It was 75 when I strung the fence so it is sagging a bit in the heat. That created some gaps along the ground.

    Instead of running away like my dogs would do, the 3 hens were going NUTS trying to get back INSIDE the fenced area, with the rest of the flock.

    I corralled them around the side and opened the gate...they rushed back in and began foraging again.

    Since then I have staked down all the bottom pieces and it is much more secure.

    I think that kind of proves at least at this stage they don't want to be away from their sisters :)

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