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Next step to free ranging....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by porkchop48, Sep 29, 2011.

  1. porkchop48

    porkchop48 Songster

    Jun 1, 2008
    Malta, OH
    I free range my girls when I am home.

    I feel a little bad that they don't get out earlier in the day due to me being at work.

    I leave for work about 7 am... would it be ok to let them out them, with no one home to keep an eye on them? The dog is locked up during the day so I would not need to worry about him.

  2. florafarmer

    florafarmer In the Brooder

    Apr 21, 2011
    Mine have been free ranging from 7 am to 7 pm since they were 3 months old. I have not had any trouble with predators. The girls are so happy to go out each morning. When I go down to close their coop and run at night, they have usually already put themselves to bed.
  3. PJCluck

    PJCluck In the Brooder

    Apr 17, 2010
    Living Free in NH
    It all depends on the likelihood of a wandering predator and what your environment is like. Here in Mass., a fisher cat is not uncommon in the area, and I have a trap set 24/7 for it, just outside my run. (It was either a fisher cat or a coon that got five of mine through a weakness in my fencing three weeks ago. I am out for him now.) You can let your chickens out day after day and get to the point where you feel pretty smug, but then WHAM! Along comes the fisher cat (or whatever) and the chickens are nothing but a smile on the fc's face and a smattering of feathers around your yard.
  4. Sassafras

    Sassafras Songster

    Jan 16, 2011
    Even if you are home something will eventually get them if they are free range. I'm not saying you shouldn't free range but just don't be surprised when you come home to dead chickens. Just take a look at some of the threads posted.
  5. eggdd

    eggdd Songster

    Jul 12, 2011
    here is my opinion:

    they're chickens. the end.

    i don't say this in a dismissive way. i say it in a 'let them be chickens' way. i have a hard time with folks keeping any animal confined in a space that is unnatural - - from a dog, to a beta fish. it's mean. no matter the intention of the human, or humans, involved.

    they are chickens. they like to be out. they need to be out.

    no one will ever convince me that keeping a chicken, or any animal, in an unnatural environment is "better" for the chicken. again, no matter the intention.

    if it's dark when you leave, buy an automatic opening/closing door. they're inexpensive and easy to install. find a neighbor. instruct a husband/wife/child. use electric fencing. do something.

    will it be more effort on your part? possibly. but you chose to have chickens. freely.

    figure it out.

    that's my opinion.
  6. BairleaFarm

    BairleaFarm Songster

    May 3, 2011
    Georgetown, KY
    Quote:x2. I feel the same way. I open my coop at 6am and close it around 11pm. Ive never lost a bird during the day.
  7. my thought is . . . they are MY CHICKENS.

    I have taken on the responsibility of taking care of these animals that have been taken out of the wild and had many of their wild traits breed out of them and now they depend on me to intervene for them. While I try to allow them their leftover wild nature I realize that some breeds may not have the natural instinct and speed of their ancestors.

    I let them out when I am at home, or when I have a quick couple trips during the day. I do not feel comfortable letting them be exposed all day if I am not home. If a predator came, I could come out and shoot it, and maybe lose 1 or two, the price I am willing to pay to let them freerange. But if I were gone all day, something could spend hours tracking them all down and killing them. In my yard and nearby it is alllllll field, very few trees and bushes and not good for chickens to hide from predators. Some of you may have different terrain, so it may not be an issue for you.

    Build a large enough run that you don't have to feel guilty for not letting them out. And then let them out when you are comfortable. But be aware that a predator could come at any time. life in general is a risk. So add in the breed you have and it's habits and your terrain and known predator patterns and judge by that. Obviously, it would be preferable to let them run all the time, but I think for most people they would just be feeding coyotes.

  8. ladyride

    ladyride Songster

    Apr 30, 2011
    East Tn
    For 4 months we had no problems with free ranging our chickens with minimal supervision then 2 weeks ago the slaughter began. 1st we lost 5 to something never found out what , then we lost 2 to something else 1 being my breeder hen. then we lost 2 more so for a total of 9 in 2 weeks . We tried not letting them out unless we were out with them dang went to go releive the bladder 2 got gone what ever is taking them is not afraid of humans & watch what we are doing. We have looked for dens for fox as we have seen 2 on the property , we have also seen a couple of coyotes on property. We have yet to find any sign of what is taking them . We have set traps they make off with the bait out of the have a heart traps.So now I have ordered the other traps & closed the chicken buffet as this is food off my table. It costs a little too much to be raising them up to laying stage then have them eaten by something other than you. Let me add all of my losses have been during the day time at night they are in a secure coop.
    Hopefully we will be able to free range them again but some different fencing will have to go up. Now granted they are not pets but but the point of livestock is for your use not feed all the wild or stray critters. I feel really bad they that right now they cannot be out safely but you can't shoot what you can't see. Once I thin the preds out some they will be back out. They have large runs but it is not the same as all that freedom. But I can't take loosing 1/3 of my flock either.
    I guess you have to decide what is an acceptable loss for you. Good luck on your endeavors !!
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2011
  9. warmfuzzies

    warmfuzzies Songster

    Feb 15, 2009
    Boondocks, Colorado
    My FIL lets his out each morning when he goes to work. They are out all day alone. He has lost a few to stray dogs, and we had a bobcat around last Spring that got some. But for the most part, if you aren't personally attached to your birds, the reduction in feed costs may be worth a few losses. It depends on your personal feelings about loosing a bird. And how much they are going to find to eat vs. how much they are worth to replace. I don't get too attached to my birds, but I have had a few losses that were pretty upsetting. I am more comfortable letting them out while I am here and I don't typically let mine out when I will be gone (I am a SAHM) but he does every day.

    And it is Murphy 's Law- your favorite bird will always get eaten, or hit on the road, or wind up strangled in a roll of wire. (true story)
  10. Capvin

    Capvin Songster

    Apr 13, 2011
    Lake Placid, FL
    I agree with chickmashnoon. I did not "freely" decide to get chickens to make sure that they get an early death sentence. I have a responsibility to keep them healthy and ALIVE and not feed them to coyotes, bobcat, raccoon, hawks, etc.. We all make a choice when we decide to raise chickens. Some of us feel that it is perfectly acceptable to have your chickens killed off once in a while as long as they get to free range. Others, like myself, find it unacceptable to invite the slaughter of my chickens so I only let them out when I am able to supervise them and watch. At other times they are in a safe run that is large enough to keep them happy and secure. There are many of us on this site that raise chickens in a very urban environment and it would be impossible to free range and accdording to some of the comments these people should not be raising chickens because it is not "natural" I think all of us have decided that we are going to raise our chickens in the manner that we have decided is best for us and our chickens and, in my opinion, as long as it works for that person and the chickens are healthy, then it is OK.

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