New and nervous about letting chicks in the yard during the day....

kfisher123

Songster
8 Years
Jun 11, 2011
105
14
139
Verona Wisconsin
We have our first 5 silkies who are 12 weeks old.
They have a small 6 X 3 1/2 foot coop and run so I let them out into the yard as much as possible. We live in a subdivision where the lots are 1 to 2 acres so they have a lot of space. We don't have a fence but are surrounded by trees. We back up to a beef angus farm so there is at least one fence behind our property. I am home a lot during the day and let them out as much as possible but check on them a lot, they don't go far but have been "exploring" more and more and I'm nervous about predators. So....

1. Are they safe alone without a fence??
2. Who/what might get them during the day? I've seen coyotes, hawks, turkey vultures and fox but am COMPLETELY CLUELESS about their habits and when they might attack.
3. All the dogs around here are guarded with invisible fences so they can't get out. But that won't keep the chicks out of their yard! So how far do chickens "ramble" from home base?

I guess what I'm trying to find out, am I being just too lax about their free time? Should I hussle them in their coop everytime I go back inside?? I don't want a silkie rebellion on my hands....but I would be sick if any of them were killed as they are pets for our two daughters. Ok, mine too!
thanks for any help!!
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
25,588
15,938
766
Holts Summit, Missouri
All but turkey vultures are daytime threat. Fox will sometimes try to take birds right under your nose. Neighbors dogs providing some protection. Threat posed by neighbors dogs is a function of neighbors dogs. Chickens need to be frightened by dogs, then they will learn to avoid them. Use of feeder and waterer can keep silkies inside a radius of about 100 feet. Long-term best guardian for your birds is to get your own dog that is at least a little bit bigger than a coyote.
 
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sourland

Broody Magician
Premium Feather Member
11 Years
May 3, 2009
102,216
230,130
1,887
New Jersey
In addition to the known predators that you have seen hawks would be a very likely threat to your silkies. It might be better to keep them in a secure pen during the day and allow them supervised free ranging in the evening.
 

E.M. Silkies

Songster
9 Years
Aug 7, 2010
362
0
109
Georgia
I live out in the boonies and I let my egg layers out to free range around the house several times a week. When they are locked u p that have a large fenced area covered with bird netting. I don't have to worry about predators during the day much because I have two large dogs outside most of the day. I also recently had several RIR chicks that only had a small pen and I did as the previous poster said, let them out in the evening. It gave them time to roam and catch bugs before bed but they weren't out long enough for me to worry about them.
 

WalkerH

Songster
8 Years
Apr 5, 2011
348
2
111
Southern Maryland, USA
You always have to be aware leaving them out during the day unsupervised may result in deaths. The neighborhood dogs may help with foxes and coyotes, but hawks I've still seen pick up a friend's chicken and fly off. Luckily I have yet to lose any to any predators, knock on wood, but I am aware letting them free range I take that chance.
 

kristip

Songster
10 Years
Jul 29, 2010
1,580
15
211
New Glarus
I am still anewbie at a year, and we live in a setting where my nearest neighbor is about 1-2 acres away. Around us, the biggest threat is the hawks. We have 10 birds, 4 of which are bantams ( 2 silkies) and we only let the girls out when we are home. So we can keep an eye on them. I am surprised at how well they stay in our yard and around the coop to the house area. They are good girls and my daughter can round them up better than anyone. She is our chicken whisperer. Overall, I would recommend either a chicken tractor of some kind or stay with the chicks.
 

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