Please tell me I didn't do something wrong...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Beekercat, Sep 19, 2010.

  1. Beekercat

    Beekercat Chirping

    Aug 23, 2009
    Gainesville, Florida
    For the last few weeks, I've been free-ranging our 12 chickens, (four older girls who are 22-weeks and 10 18-week olds, including two cockerals) and things had been going great. I started letting them out about an hour before dusk and had been gradually increasing the time that they were running around. They loved it and all came back to the coop on their own without any issues at all. At first, I was out there with them - practically on top of them - the whole time, but lately I'd been doing stuff in the front of the house, going in for a minute, hanging out in the pool, etc. while they were out. I would check on them a LOT though, even if I wasn't hovering, but I gotta admit, it would sometimes be 10 minutes between checks. Last night, I checked on them and they were all around the back of the screened in pool area (we had just weed-whacked and they were THRILLED with the grass, bugs, etc.) and when I went out about 10 minutes later, Maple, our SLW (and only egg layer!) was missing. One of the young roosters was calling and calling for her but then ushered the rest of the younger girls back in the coop. Maple's "sisters," the three feedstore chicks that I bought with her, didn't go in right away with the others, and one of them, Miss Kitty, was distraught and would NOT go back in the coop at all. I finally had to pick her up and physically place her in the coop. We searched our property - we have almost 3 acres in a pretty wooded area in a neighborhood where everyone has giant acre-plus sized lots (and there are a LOT of chickens in backyards out here), but although we think we heard her, we didn't find her. I thought for sure she'd be home by this morning, but she's not. We searched again after church and ran into our neighbors, who are veteran chicken people, and they said she's probably gone if she stayed out overnight - they free range all day and lose a few to hawks, owls and the occasional bobcat. I've never seen evidence of anything trying to get into the coop or the run, but I guess that's a good thing.

    Anyways, I don't think I will let anyone out of the run anymore; I know they love it, but I'm just sick about losing one. I suppose it's all a part of chicken ownership, but it still sucks.

  2. b.hromada

    b.hromada Flock Mistress

    I do hope she comes back. [​IMG] I've read on other threads of peoples birds showing up a few days later. [​IMG]
  3. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    No, you didn't do anything wrong....with chickens, things happen. It's just a part of it....[​IMG] Now you've just made another decision about your chickens........not letting them free week you might decide to add on to their run. It's seems like things are always changing with chickens--You're doing just fine.
  4. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    I hope she comes back to. But for the record. I don't think you did anything wrong. You let your chickens be chickens!!

  5. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    Yeah, maybe she'll be back. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

    You did not do anything wrong. I leave mine out all day without supervision, while I'm at work. Sometimes it's just bad luck.

  6. NonnasBabies

    NonnasBabies Muddy Acre Farms Premium Member

    Sep 20, 2009
    On the Farm!
    Quote:I do exactly the same thing. If I lose one to a predator I'll be sorry but it won't be the end of the world.

  7. spottedtail

    spottedtail Songster

    Aug 5, 2007
    Losses and free-ranging go hand in hand. Always.
    That's just how it works.

    It's always a decision between:
    A ) "Do I want my chickens free-ranging and happy?"


    B) "Do I want my chickens safe in a run but not quite so happy?."

    It totally depends on whether the owner is willing to accept losses or not.

    Sorry about the missing hen.
    It may turn up yet.


  8. serendipityfarm

    serendipityfarm Songster

    Mar 28, 2010
    I lost 2 that way, but there was evidence that they weren't coming back (feathers everywhere [​IMG] ). If there wasn't anything like that, maybe she will return.
    Will keep my fingers crossed for you!

    PS- I still let my chickens out to free range, with supervision. They seem to be so much happier.
  9. woodmort

    woodmort Songster

    Jul 6, 2010
    Oxford NY
    If there are other back yarders around there is always the possibility she joined another flock and/or got locked in with them--we've had cats disappear for a couple of days and figure they got locked in someplace. As far as doing something wrong--why knock yourself out? Predators, diseases,injuries or just genetic deformities happen--if you have chickens you're going to lose some to some or all of those. My chickens are happiest when they can roam around--yours will be too.
  10. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

    Aug 26, 2009
    Out to pasture
    Another thing to think about is, if the chickens never free ranged, they wouldn't know what they were missing. I think they would be very happy in a nice enclosed run. You could always make it bigger if you still worry and maybe give them some toys to amuse them. Hang a head of cabbage for them. Give them some interesting things to walk on or explore and turn some bugs loose for them.I know I could be happy with all of that except the bug part.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by