Portland Back Yard Free Range Question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jcbydesign, Dec 8, 2010.

  1. jcbydesign

    jcbydesign Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 21, 2010
    Portland, OR
    Need more handholding here...[​IMG] I live in SE Portland, OR and now that my girls are out in the coop and run...I was wondering if it is safe to let them roam around the yard unattended?!?!?
    They love being out in the yard (two times, now) but I have stayed out with them so they aren't out for very long. Is it safe to let them stay out alone for a few hours or ? My afghan hound has been out with us - she's interested but doesn't bother with them- but if they suddenly squawk and run she'd be chasing them for sure), so I guess I could let her stay with them. She wouldn't eat them, just chase them. Only saw one hawk a month ago but that doesn't mean they aren't up there, does it?

    Am I being too protective? Suggestions and advice truly wanted. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2010
  2. meadrian

    meadrian Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 22, 2009
    San Francisco, CA
    I just returned from a visit in SE Portland. My folks have neighbors who have chickens. She told me they have had racoons kill one of their hens, but that was at night. I'd hesitate leaving them alone for an hour freeranging. I live in SF and we have hawks, so don't let mine out without me. I don't know what all Portland has, but I'd be careful nonetheless. Better safe than sorry. I hear too many stories of neighborhood dogs, feral cats and other unexpected situations. LIke I said, better to be safe. (I know, not the answer you were hoping for.[​IMG] Sorry.) But it's only my opinion. Others may think differently.
  3. Pastor Mike

    Pastor Mike Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 13, 2010
    Redmond Oregon
    I would not leave them unattended. Your dog may chase them which leads to other difficulties perhaps a death by accident. :-( I'm from Redmond Or and I never allow my girls to be on their own to many local cats ,dogs hawks as well as natural critters.
  4. Imp

    Imp All things share the same breath- Chief Seattle

    medrian is correct, but I do let mine free range all day unattended. If I didn't they'd be locked all the time.
    It's kind of a vicious circle, the more freedom they have, the more chances a predator can get to them. I have been EXTREMELY fortunate that I haven't had a predator go after the chickens. Just in the last few months I have found raccoons, possums, and eagles in the yard with them, during the day. Makes me wonder what goes on when I'm at work.
    Guess it's just what risk you are willing to accept.
    And about squawking and running, mine only do that if a leaf falls out of a tree, which is like 20 times a day.
    Raccoons they just ignore, possums they scream at, rats they cower, and eagles they silently disappear.

  5. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA
    Just want to chime in and say whatever you decide I most definetly would not leave the dog with them. Just chasing will very likely result in catching and killing. She probably would not mean to kill them, but all the squawking and running will get the dog wound up--in a dogs world chickens are the greatest squeaky toys ever.
  6. mrsbos

    mrsbos Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 11, 2010
    Greenacres, WA
    I let mine free-range all day unsupervised. We have a 1/2 acre lot that is fully fenced with 5 & 6 ft fencing. My EEs are nearly 4 months old. I don't worry about raccoons b/c I lock the girls up shortly after sundown, and they don't get let out until around 8-9am during the cold season. Because they are relatively large sized now, and there are 3 of them always together, I heard that they could fend off a cat if one were to get in my yard and had the nerve to attack one of them. The one next door neighbor I have (my other neighbors are snow birds in AZ for the winter) has 2 bird hunting dogs, but only once did one dig under the fence to go after the chickens and that was months ago. The only predator I think I have to worry about is a hawk, and there is plenty of cover for my girls to take shelter under should one come by. They've been swooped only once that I know of, and that was in my presence! The girls are very aware of any birds, friend or foe, flying overhead, and tend to seek shelter in the coop if there is even the hint of a threat overhead! I have not clipped their wings, and even though I know they could clear the fence if they wanted to, they have no reason to explore outside the yard's boundaries. They mainly hang out near their coop/run, or roost on the rubbermaid storage box which holds their food, right on our back patio against the sliding door. They won't walk in the snow, so right now the only places they will venture in my large yard, are the places where I have cleared the snow to expose the grass.

    During the cold/rainy/snowy time of year, I just don't have it in me to stand outside freezing to death to watch them, especially when the daylight hours are so short.
  7. savingdogs

    savingdogs Chillin' With My Peeps

    I would have them free range only when you are home to supervise.

    Two reasons.

    1. Chickens can get over fences or escape where you want them to be. If you are home, you can retrieve them or keep an eye on this.

    2. Dogs are serious predators and even if your own dog behaves, neighbor dogs could easily break in or kill a chicken that escaped your yard.

    And even if your dog is good with your chickens when you are home, everything would change when you leave them alone, and the dog would feel in charge. When in doubt, expect a predator to act like a predator around prey unless you are controlling the situation.
  8. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

    Jun 18, 2010
    Southern Oregon

    But so much more fragile than the toys from the store! One good chomp and shake of the head and it's broke and no fun to play with [​IMG]
  9. Kittymomma

    Kittymomma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 9, 2009
    Olympia, WA

    But so much more fragile than the toys from the store! One good chomp and shake of the head and it's broke and no fun to play with [​IMG]

    That was pretty much my point. Dogs like to play with chickens, but chickens usually die when played with--Don't leave playfull dog unattended with chickens.
  10. MakNugget

    MakNugget Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 31, 2010
    Portland, OR
    I haven't let mine free range yet, perhaps next spring when I have things more accommodating for them but when it happens it will be on weekends supervised. They only get unsupervised free time in the run since I have an automatic door now. And cameras...

    As with any dog, there are those rare exceptions, but I wouldn't take the risk, especially if it has chasing tendencies.

    Letting them outside as is = no protection. I'm almost thinking about building a semi-permanent aviary of some kind where I can throw over some bird netting... almost like a deluxe tractor that can be set up and broken down with ease. This is an unfortunate thing for Portland since we can't have (not that I'm advocating either) roosters, which is something that would help alert others of potential dangers.

    Cats may or may not be a problem depending on size of hen. Stray dogs definitely. Lots of hawks in Portland, just because you don't see them doesn't mean they don't see you. Raccoons and Possums to worry about too.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by