Now really what is FREE RANGING?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Maryallison77, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. Maryallison77

    Maryallison77 Chillin' With My Peeps

    328
    2
    131
    Jul 18, 2008
    Fountain, Florida
    So I am newer to the chicken thing and just trying to understand the whole free ranging. So does this mean during the day you let your chickens out to roam freely? Are there some kind of boundaries though? Maybe like you have to have a fenced in yard to let your chickens free range? I have 5 acres, but I am only fenced on 2 sides. Maybe after I am fenced all the way I will consider letting them out. I am also very concerned that they will not come back!!! I LOVE my chickens and I would be sad if I let them out and they "flew the coop". How do you get them to come back???
     
  2. Dustoff79

    Dustoff79 Chillin' With My Peeps

    147
    4
    121
    Aug 5, 2008
    San Antonio, Texas
    I too am new to this but, here is my "plan". I will be getting my chicks next month, I will have them in my coop until they are fully feathered. This gets them used to the coop, where it is safe, food and water are available. I have a small area with a temporary fenced off around the coop. I will let them out in that area during the day with the coop open and at night close them up in the coop. After a week or two I will take the temp fence down and allow them to freely roam during the day. keeping food and water in the coop. and close them up each evening. I have 4 acres but will have the back two fenced. the fence is a three rail wood fence that I am installing 4' horse wire on (4' tall with 2"x4" wire mesh). I am adding the wire for two reasons, first is to ensure roaming dogs and any coyote that may be out stay out and two to act as a ground level barrier for the chickens. I know they may fly over but have to risk that. My prime concern is the dogs. So basically, by raising them in the coop, slowly getting them to know the coop is home and safe and that they roost there i feel they will stay around the coop. they may wander around the two acres, but most of the interesting things, (large mulch pile, horse feed, hay, barn) are all close I hope they will not "fly the coop".
     
  3. chickflick

    chickflick Overrun With Chickens

    4,485
    100
    291
    Mar 10, 2007
    Dimondale
    Yes, it's letting your chickens out to roam....how freely is up to you! They do come back home to roost. Lots of people let them free range in their fenced in back yards. Mine free range in neighbor's yard also! Also, you can let them out a couple of hrs before dusk. That way they won't roam too far from home, but still get to eat grass and bugs, and your plants...lol. It's just a matter of what you feel comfortable with. There are people that are very aganist free ranging. It's such a cool thing to look out and see happy chickens pecking away at the bugs and eating grass. Some let them out when they are there to supervise. So, whatever floats your boat and think you can handle. Happy chickens make great eggs!
     
  4. Portia

    Portia Chillin' With My Peeps

    919
    0
    149
    Feb 29, 2008
    South Central PA
    I have 10 acres, but my chickens mostly free range on the fenced 1 acre around the house. There is a auto opener on the pop door that opens at daylight and closes at late dusk; therefore the chickens can and do come and go on their own. They range the entire yard and some of them fly over the fence and range around in the front and the woods, but if they fly over they also fly back. When they were young I started them in the small enclosed garden, then one day left the gate open and let them roam out into the yard; there was no turning back. The coop is their 'home' and they know it. Chickens have horrible night vision and look for a safe place to roost as daylight fades; if they understand that the coop is there home, they will return there every night. For my girls it only took one night and exiting the coop independently in the morning and they all returned there well before dusk and have been doing so ever since. I keep food and water in the coop, so they also know there is always sustinence to be had there. Of course I also have free range feeders/waterers in the yard. The hens also return to the coop for laying. I just traded up my rooster & thus introduced the new boy to my flock. After quarantine time roaming the fenced off garden we put him into the coop one night after dark; up on the roost next to the girls. By the time the pop door opened the next morning he had accepted the coop as his home and comes to roost every evening.
    Chickens are creatures of habit, once they learn where home is they will continue to return there. They are also social creatures, so they generally stick with what the pack is doing; if one hasn't 'got it' yet, they soon will by watching all the others.
     
  5. MamaDragon

    MamaDragon Chillin' With My Peeps

    258
    2
    131
    Aug 4, 2008
    Camden, AR
    Our flock started with 6 adults from the next door neighbor...... we now have 9 + 2 chicks in the yard.

    We kept them penned completely for a month, then began letting them out late in the afternoon, and stayed outside doing chores, but able to keep an eye on them. They knew where the feed/water was, and would go back on their own about 1/2 hour before sundown. Only once did any hop the fence to their old home. They got chased back to our yard by the neighbor's rooster, and no escapees since.

    Now our chickens roam the yard from sunrise to sunset. We live on a corner next to two busy roads, have no fences there, and the chickens don't even go close to either road. About 25 feet is the closest they get.

    Some people use that portable netting around whatever area they want to keep the chickens in, moving it from time to time. This works best if you have a "tractor" set-up.

    Anytime I need to "herd" the chickens somewhere, I have an 8 ft. PVC pipe that I use like a shepherd's staff, and it works like a charm. Just remember NOT to move it over their heads, or they'll scatter to the four-winds!

    We don't have many stray dogs around, but I do have to keep an eye out for them. The ones that have come around, get a warning shot over their heads or at their feet, the second is a round of rock-salt in the butt. That usually discourages them. We've only had to put down one that didn't get the message. His sister actually became a Very Good stock dog. (she got ran over in the neighbor's driveway)

    Kathy

    PS - my feed use went down to about half with them roaming the yard, and the egg production has gone up.
     
  6. Run-A-Muck Ranch

    Run-A-Muck Ranch Chillin' With My Peeps

    our birds have 24 hour access to outside. They have 24 hour access to an inside coop and an enclosed run also.
    They are outside from before the sun comes up until after it gets dark. They come back to the coop every night. I have NEVER lost a chicken to a preditor yet. Age, Natural causes, things like that yes, but never has one been attacked or killed by another animal.
    there coop gets closed up at night, but there is a window they could go out if wanted. They how ever don't do that.
    They eat all the bugs, grass and weeds they want. I give them treats daily (breads, cerals, fruits, veggies). They also have feed, scratch, grain, layer, oyster shells, etc. etc. available 24 hours a day. During the nice (no snow) months they don't really eat to much as they are outside getting all the food they need. During the winter months the food amount goes up quite a bit. Mine don't seem to like to be out in the snow.

    I have a boundry fence in the front yard (running along the road). And then we have pastures fenced off. Other than that there are no other boundry fences here. We have 40+ acres, but the birds stick pretty close to the barn and house. They do go into the pasture and forage, but for the most part they stick close to home....

    Our ducks, geese, guineas, chickens all run together. No problems or fighting.
     
  7. PeeperKeeper

    PeeperKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

    Free Range - Open hen house door and let them GO![​IMG]
     
  8. L&Schickens

    L&Schickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2008
    Washington State
    I don't let mine out until the afternoon when I will be home to make sure that no neighbor dogs, hawks, or anything else gets my birds. They complain about it, but that is too bad. I don't want anything to eat my chickens except me!![​IMG]

    But my chickens have open coops and so they are outside but fenced in with roofs over their heads.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2008
  9. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    6,396
    10
    263
    Apr 20, 2008
    Birnamwood, Wisconsin
    Free range to ME is letting your birds run (total freedom from ALL fences) That is not the only way to free range tho. Some people let their birds out in their fenced in yard and they are getting everything a regular totally free bird would get...bugs, grit, grass etc... And when I first got chickens I was told...keep them in the hen house ONLY for two weeks...then open the door to their hen house every morning and let them out into their run. Do this for two weeks (they went into the hen house to go to bed on their own [​IMG] nightly) Then after those four weeks you can open the door to the run and let them go. I trusted everyone here when they told me they WOULD go back in themselves and go to bed. And they DID. Chickens are sure smarter than I gave the credit for.
     
  10. OHChick

    OHChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    381
    2
    149
    May 8, 2007
    mine are 'loose' free rangers. they have fenced pasture which they stay in (it's just 4 board fence, nothing they couldn't hop thru). the only thing we did was on the gates, we put up chain link so they didn't hop those and go out into the road.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by