Naively I thought chickens could be out alone all day, confused

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Jenjens, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Jenjens

    Jenjens In the Brooder

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    I bought my first chicks a month ago and the barn is almost ready for them. I guess I was being naive thinking that in the morning I could let them out in the yard all day while I am at work and let them back in at night. I live near a forest preserve and we do have deer, coyotes, huge raccoons, etc. and didn't even realize that they might be harmed during the day with no one home.

    I am an animal lover and I want to provide my chickens the best life with as much time outside as possible. My husband works in the trades and is self-employed, so unfortunately, money-wise, it really hurts, but he will be home a few days a week. However, if things get busy for him, it hurts to think that I have to keep them in the barn all day. Then there comes winter too as I live in the midwest which means even more time inside.The whole point of getting these chickens was to have them as an addition to the family, as well as eggs, since I was already spending a fortune on pasture-raised eggs at the store.

    I am starting to feel like I made a mistake getting them because I can't give them the best life possible, and am not sure what to do. I have already grown quite attached. Any advise would be appreciated. Thank you.
     
  2. LeggyLeghorn

    LeggyLeghorn Songster

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    hi there, can you post photo of your set up for the chickens? are you able to build/make/provide an outside run as well?
     
  3. New2Chicks97

    New2Chicks97 Songster

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    My chickens have a large covered run adjacent to their coop that they have access to all the time. Then when we are home they get out for free range time. They are happy as can be. Sometimes they tire of free ranging after an hour or so and just hang out scratching & dirt bathing right outside their run. Plus I have found they need the locked in time so they will lay in their nesting boxes. If left to their own devices they lay all over the place outside and I can’t find the eggs.

    So it doesn’t mean your chickens will have a bad life just because they can’t free range all day. :) Build them an outside run they can access that is predator proof and let them out to free range when you get home.
     
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  4. Henriettamom919

    Henriettamom919 Crowing

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    Okay, first of all its not so all or nothing. Your chickens ARE getting their best life if you're caring for them, loving them and keeping them as safe as each day allows for.

    Trust me, a day here and there in the barn will be fine! I totally feel you because I free range mine and as of today I can't wait until our big run is done as a secondary option for when I can't be around to check on them! I never thought I'd want a big run because we have a fully fenced yard with relatively few daytime threats but I know better now that they'll thrive best when you have options to do both. Some people only do runs and their chickens do great!

    This article really helps balance the risk/guilt of free range with the reality of loss:

    https://www.backyardchickens.com/ar...-with-loss-from-a-tenderhearted-farmer.72519/

    You're doing great simply by being aware, around and loving them! :hugs
     
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  5. Jenjens

    Jenjens In the Brooder

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    I can't get a photo since I am not at home, but it's just a barn that was used for a small horse. With a top shelf used for hay. It has 2 windows and that's it. We are going to add roosts and stuff this weekend. We don't have a run since I thought they would be outside most of the time. I guess we can build one, but I have a feeling my husband won't go for that.
     
    HuffleClaw likes this.
  6. Jenjens

    Jenjens In the Brooder

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    Thanks for everyone's replies and information. If I add a run does it have to be attached to the barn? Can I just let them out of the barn and kind of "chase" them into the run so they don't run all over the backyard? We have an extremely limited budget, so I can'[t do any construction on the barn.
     
  7. LeggyLeghorn

    LeggyLeghorn Songster

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    runs can be devised within a simple budget. i would attach to the barn, as it will make your life easier. a cat flap/dog flap size opening will do. take a look at run and coop ideas on this site. loads of crafty designs without going to the bank. :)
     
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  8. Henriettamom919

    Henriettamom919 Crowing

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    Attaching to the barn through a cut out door won't require any major renovations to the barn itself. That being said you can devise a simple run nearby and call them to it- treat training will have your Cluckers going wherever you do!

    As for the barn itself, get a few lights in there, some Timothy hay and shavings to scratch through, upright pallets are great for climbing, plant some chicken friendly greens in whatever containers you have lying around and set them inside after they're asleep at night for a fun morning surprise!

    There's lots of ways to make this work and keep them happy regardless of what they call home!
     
  9. BigBlueHen53

    BigBlueHen53 Songster

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    Trying to chase your chickens from one enclosed area to another is kind of an exercise in futility. It's a lot like herding cats! Could you hire someone to build a little run for you next to the barn? How about the barter system? Do you bake pies or bread? Make jelly or yogurt, paint portraits or landscapes? Quilt or sew? Babysit, fix computers, cut hair, crochet, make dolls, lol? Sometimes our most casual hobbies are things other people think are amazing and will trade their services for. Good luck!
     
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  10. MROO

    MROO Free Ranging

    If the only reason you feel like you've made a mistake is because you can't let them wander all day, then stop beating yourself up! "The best life possible" doesn't necessarily mean free-ranging all day. The "Best Life" is a safe one ... and that's fixable!

    As long as your chickens have enough food and clean water, you can address the free-range alternatives pretty easily. The first option is a predator-proofed run. There are lots of ideas here on BYC - just search the coop pages and you'll be overwhelmed with the options and ideas! If that's not an option at the moment, then enhance your barn with some serious boredom busters. A happy chicken is a busy chicken - so add some interesting options for them - swings, some stumps (especially one with lots of interesting snacks ... I mean bugs,) a dust bath, multiple perches, etc. If you really "need" to free range them, let them do it while you supervise. If you let them out about twenty minutes before bed-time, they'll usually go back in willingly ... especially if you offer a treat or two.

    Most importantly, DON'T GIVE UP! The learning curve was high for all of us when we first got started, but it's worth the climb!
     
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