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Nervous about letting my chickens free range

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Carolyn227, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. Carolyn227

    Carolyn227 In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2011
    I currently have a nice stout henhouse that is working really well for my 3 hens. They have a pretty big run but they've pecked all the grass clean. The basically get any worms or bugs that manage to get in there now that the grass is gone.

    I'd like to let them free range. I'm on a neighborhood lot of 1/3 acre. We have a couple fence spots I need to repair first, but I'm still nervous. The neighbor's cats get in our yard all the time. And sometimes dogs have breeched the fence- usually the next door neighbor with all the cats. The fence is pretty old. We're planning on replacing it eventually, but it's not in the budget quite yet. We have other priorities in our yard first.

    My biggest concern is a huge gate that we have for driving vehicles into our back yard. There is most definitely enough room under part of the fence for a chicken to get out if she really wanted to. We need truck access to our back yard for now at least. I'm also concerned about pets getting into our yard and wild animals- there are raccoons, opossums, and predator birds such as eagles and hawks to worry about. I would likely lock them up in the pen at night, which still has access to the runs, but allow them to free range in the yard during the day. We're not technically allowed hens in our neighborhood, but we'd only get in trouble if someone tattled on us, so I really don't want them getting out of our yard (our neighborhood association president has hens, too, so I'm not really worried at all, just don't want them to get loose and bugging our neighbors to where they'd file a complaint about us, therefore getting us fined).

    Would you free range in this situation, or would you keep them contained for their safety and to avoid the potential hassle of complaints and fines?

  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Free Ranging Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    If you're that nervous about predators, and your chickens aren't legal and you don't want the neighbors to see them running around your yard, it sounds like you'd be better off not letting them free range. One has to be prepared for a loss now and then if one is going to free range. If you're not ready for that, then most certainly don't.
  3. lesgo54

    lesgo54 Songster

    Feb 13, 2012
    spencer, tn
    i would secure the back yard before i let them out.
  4. karlamaria

    karlamaria Songster

    Jan 30, 2011
    Western montana
    I would let them out only if your going to watch them closely. With all those predators and the dogs and cats the only way I would let them out is if I was right with them. If the run is messed up, add sand and do what we have done "throw all the grass clippings in there pen, and have the kids catch grass hoppers and bugs thank goodness for my boys lol :D
  5. redhotchick

    redhotchick Chirping

    May 22, 2011
    Fort Worth
    I have a pair that i let out about 2 hours before dark. That way they don't have time to go far. If they have a large enough run just a few.times a week will work fine.
  6. Carolyn227

    Carolyn227 In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2011
    Hm, I think I might start letting them out a little before dark soon and locking them back up at night. It would probably be a lot of fun for the kids to get to interact with the hens in the evenings. I'll have hubby fix the fence first. I think that might be a good compromise in order to keep them safe yet allowing them freedom.
  7. Hyline

    Hyline Chirping

    Feb 10, 2012
    Western Australia
    I worry too much to let my girls out as well, I let my rooster free range but he is big enough and mean enough to look after himself [​IMG] my little angels are far too innocent to out alone lol!! I think it's a good idea to range with them in the evenings lol. It's relaxing too, I love just hanging out with my girls :)

  8. berniezahm

    berniezahm Songster

    Oct 24, 2008
    I think it is very natural to be concerned about letting you girls (hens) out to free range, when you are first doing it. Your idea to let then out a while before dusk is probably the best choice under the circumstances you have described. There is very little you can do about hawks and eagles, except stay out there with your birds. Kind of impractical to put wire up overhead for the entire backyard. Grab a lawn chair and join your hens. it's very enjoyable to watch and visit with them. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012
  9. KellerTX

    KellerTX In the Brooder

    Jan 23, 2012
    Keller, Texas
    We have had chickens for a few weeks now and are trying to let ours out for a little while in the afternoons/evenings as many days as we can. We have a small tractor-type coop, so there isn't an overabundance of room. With cats and hawks, we don't leave them unattended when free ranging. Especially since two are 3 month old little cochins. They love the free ranging and are really fun to watch. We also use the time to pick up sticks and do other little chores in the back yard.
  10. mondotomhead

    mondotomhead Songster

    Sep 22, 2011
    I, too, agree with everyone else. I would only let them out if I was with them. I'd be way more worried about the dogs, racoons, and hawks then the cats. I have cats and they are terrified of my bantams[​IMG]
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2012

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