Ok, deep breath, letting them free range without supervision...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mamabahre, May 3, 2011.

  1. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chirping

    Apr 6, 2011
    I have been letting our little flock free range under my supervision for the past couple of weeks. My primary concern is multiple neighbor's dogs that on occasion get loose. However, I can't spend 2-3 hours a day outside just hanging out and while I do outdoor chores, DD doesn't like just being out there for hours yet....She gets bored and wants to play inside or for some reason just go inside (she's a toddler, mysterious creatures they are)..

    So yesterday I let them out around 10 and checked on them periodically until about 2pm when I put them back in their run because the dog needed some outside run around time. They were fine, didn't stray (I wasn't worried about that anyway) and all was well. I just let them out again and will check on them periodically again..

    DH is terrified they are going to get eaten by, something or everything, but I really can't spend hours outside watching them every day and I want them to free range. I'm feeling brave but at the same time wondering if this is going to come back and bite me in the butt. DH is getting ready for a massive "I told you so" at any point..

    I can't be the only one who lets their flock free range without supervision though?

  2. lebentier

    lebentier Chirping

    Apr 1, 2011
    when mine are out i watch them pretty closely, but we do have hawks in the neighborhood.
  3. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chirping

    Apr 6, 2011
    Quote:we have hawks but there is tons of cover for them and we have crows who are very alert to predatory birds... I just keep weighing the risks in my head. I know this sounds awful, I love the birds but they aren't "pets" to me. I want them to range as much as possible for the quality of their eggs etc... I just can't be out there the whole time... If they got killed it is a hard loss but I'll have to change my plans and get more birds..
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have a free ranging flock that goes largely unsupervised from dawn till dusk. Their roosts are open access to chickens but difficult at best for most predators to access. My birds also have some trees and brambles to retreat two when predators come and breeds I have being able to fly helps as well. I worry every day about losses to hawks and canines. I have dog that keeps most baddies away. Still worry. Chicks still highly vulnerable even with mother and father willing to take on Coopers hawk that flies over almost hourly.

  5. Arielle

    Arielle Crowing

    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I hear your anxiety! It's great to hear how others are coping with freed ranging. It is what I plan to do, too. We have them in a large run, and when they are older will join the one free ranging hen we have now. SHe's savvy about hawks. ANd stays close to the house--where I am and the dogs. SHe is surrounded by fencing for other lovestock which also keeps out most 4 footed trouble makers. I'm sure I will loose some AND cry over them. It's a challenge to keep them protected but let them explore the world too in search of food. GL
  6. Nuzzy

    Nuzzy Songster

    Mar 15, 2010
    Allegan, MI
    Ours free range dawn 'til dusk. I had no clue what to expect at first, but it got easier with time. We've taken some losses due to the neighbor dog, but far more often than not, they're fine. I also used to do a head count every night...

    ...until I realized there was nothing I could do if my count came up short anyways. [​IMG]

    Free ranging certainly always has the idea in the back of your mind that you may come home to an obliterated flock. But I wouldn't trade it getting to see the birds roam around doing whatever they please [​IMG]
  7. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chirping

    Apr 6, 2011
    Quote:this made me LAUGH...what would I do, seriously...I was actually thinking of just letting the neighbors know that our hens will be loose during the day, only in our yard so, you know just watch your darn dogs! I watch mine like a hawk..

    I like the fact they are pooping up on the hill and not where I have to clean it up! I'll admit that is a big plus!

  8. JackE

    JackE Crowing

    Apr 26, 2010
    North Eastern Md.
    I let mine out to freerange every day. Got away with it for almost a year. Came home one day and all I had was piles of feathers all around the yard. Best I can guess, and from what I been told, a fox around here has little ones to raise at this time of year. The fox took 8 out of my 9 hens, also sparing the rooster (Almost wish the fox would have taken HIM and left another hen). I have a Fort Knox kind of coop. I mistakingly thought my biggest problems would be at night. I would think the only way of ensuring total security would be to build one of those predator proof fenced runs that you read about on here, and never let your chickens run free outside of it. I have 18 little chicks in the brooder right now. Debating weither to build a run on to the coop or not. So at least in the spring(With the fox threat), they can go outside into the run untill somebody is home to monitor them. But I know I'll let them freerange, They really seem to enjoy it.
  9. Hencredibles

    Hencredibles In the Brooder

    May 3, 2011
    Success depends greatly upon what is around you.

    Neighbors dogs and birds of prey would be my main concern during daylight hours.

    Owls and night time predators shouldn't be a worry if your putting your birds up at night.

    good luck, and hope you get any "I told you so" from anyone.

  10. mamabahre

    mamabahre Chirping

    Apr 6, 2011
    Quote:Yup dogs and birds are my big fear during the day..
    At night they absolutely locked tight, I already posted another thread about coyotes roaming the property at night (I know they can come out during the day but I'll take that risk, we are outside a lot in short bursts)

    Here is my question...Knowing my neighbor's dogs get out once in a while should I preemptively mention that I am letting the chickens range on our property so they can keep a closer eye on their dogs or what? I know one of the neighbors is not so thrilled about us having chickens but it is perfectly legal so I feel like I might be inviting them to "accidentally" let their dog loose during the day...I'm torn because I feel like the best way I can avoid a dog issue is by heading it off. I just don't know how I would start that conversation...Did I mention one of our neighbors with a roaming dog is DH's EX from years ago and her family hates me?! What a fun conversation that would be.

    As far as hawks go, we have lots of trees and cover, most of the yard is shaded so I'll let fate take care of that issue.

    Another day of free ranging for the girls and they were really happy. Unfortunately one of them wandered all the way to the other side of the house where I have some 6 week olds quarantined and she jumped in the pen with them. She then got flogged pretty good by the 6 week old Rooster which was pretty funny to stumble upon. He's a tough little bugger and only half the size of the big girls.

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