Predators and free ranging

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by roz, Sep 23, 2011.

  1. roz

    roz Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 2, 2010
    MA
    I'm curious to hear everyone's feed back about this. We got our chickens as juveniles last summer, and I had my husband build a fully enclosed run after the farmer we got them from told me that a family had a chicken taken by a hawk right in front of their son. I had the idea that they would be wandering around our yard all day, but after hearing that I was nervous about having them out. So, they spent almost a year in a covered run. This spring My husband built a daycare tractor that is big enough for a couple of hours in the evening,but we have an over zealous hawk who has crash landed our run on several occasions as well as foxes, coyotes, and fisher cats running through the field behind our house too. This last week we have had our hens outside with us for a whopping 20 minutes before their bed time a few nights, and it was great to see them out, but I'm nervous to do it. I'm curious to see what experiences others have had. I know there a lot of different opinions on this matter. Is it inevitable that I will lose a chicken to predators if I have them free ranging when I am outside? We have about a half acre of land, the yard is fenced with a 4 foot fence, but it is completely exposed to the sky for the majority of the yard, there is nowhere to hide, and along one side trees border the yard. The hawk has observed from these trees on several occasions.
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    You can create "hides" with many common yard objects if you want your birds to have refuge from death from above. Some people dig out pits and place pallats on concrete blocks for their chickens....this provides shade and dusting opportunities in the summer and also shelter to which to run. My gals have utilized our swing, lumber pile, orchard, etc. to hide in when threatened from above. Even lawn furniture becomes a good place to duck under in times of need...you might want to provide such areas for your free rangers and if you don't have a roo yet, get a good one. They are more vigilant than are hens and will call an alarm, allowing the flock to run to safety in most cases.

    For the most part, a few good and vigilant dogs who live and stay outside with your chickens both night and day are good for keeping your chickens safe. Electric poultry netting is a good option and easily movable so they can have fresh forage, supposed to keep out most 4-footed preds.
     
  3. mommissan

    mommissan Chillin' With My Peeps

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