Pros and Cons of Free Ranging

To free range or not to free range?

  • Free Range

    Votes: 40 61.5%
  • Large Run

    Votes: 25 38.5%

  • Total voters
    65

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
Premium Feather Member
Jul 3, 2016
13,959
26,535
982
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
My Coop
Just having chickens on it is going to 'ruin' it.
Even free ranging is going to ruin parts of your land.

x3 (or 4?) Deep litter (or aart's version of it) provides good drainage* that's better for their feet (and your boots) and helps protect the soil that's underneath. And wood chips sure smell better than poop on bare muddy ground.

* (This is assuming there's no drainage issues in the run.)
 

Aleelupton

Songster
Jul 3, 2018
283
504
166
Warren, Ohio
2x aart ... I prefer the chicken "ruin" an enclosed section as opposed to my whole yard & garden. I converted to confining after just 2 RIR & 2EE nearly destroyed my back yard with holes going to China. If only they dug where I wanted to plant a tree, never knew chickens could dig so deep. Those I have now can dig all they want & my yard looks great. We all have our own preference :hugs
Before moving them I had them free ranging in a large back yard that had privacy fence all the way around it. They had so much space to forage and hangout. They had access to many trees and garden area. Our yard wasn't too bad. We only had to spray the patio off in the evening. I just feel bad :(
 

Aleelupton

Songster
Jul 3, 2018
283
504
166
Warren, Ohio
x3 (or 4?) Deep litter (or aart's version of it) provides good drainage* that's better for their feet (and your boots) and helps protect the soil that's underneath. And wood chips sure smell better than poop on bare muddy ground.

* (This is assuming there's no drainage issues in the run.)
I added many bags of leaves and that has decreased the mud. The chickens love scratching through them. I will continue to add some more until the snow is permanent. I also added wood chip to the run attached to the coop. Hopefully this works out. I still wish they had more space to roam and forage :(
 

ChickNanny13

Crossing the Road
7 Years
Jun 23, 2013
8,948
12,697
967
The Big Island/Hawaii
I used to feel guilty about keeping them "cooped up" but they've adjusted well. :hugs
I did forget to latch the door once, they got out & the look on their faces :gig Necks stretched out, eyes so big ... They just stood there, frozen. I was in a panic cause the neighbor's dogs came to the fence, tried shushing them back in but that just freaked them out. Dogs started barking & jumping at the fence ... I got their plastic treat container, shook it and they came running in their house.

No, they're safer in their enclosure, I'm not having to check on them and I have less work keeping them from my plants & filling holes in my yard.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,753
10,652
636
western South Dakota
First, if they free range, you are going to loose some, and it always seems to be your favorite.

You can increase your odds of success free ranging, but it is not 100% sure.
  • don't free range on a set schedule, such as dawn to dark every day. Sometimes I do let them out all day, but sometimes just part of the day, and sometimes not at all.
  • do not let them out on windy days or deeply cloudy days, gives too much advantage to the predators.
  • do have enough space to go into lock down, when you get hit, you need to go into lock down for a week or more, so the predator moves on.
  • do get a trap, once a coon finds you, you need to do something with the coon
  • A full grown year-old rooster may help, he should be very alert, he should be the first bird to notice you, when you come towards the coop. Otherwise he is not worth much and no rooster under a year old is worth much, they only have one part of the flock duties on their mind.
I bed my run with old hay, we have cattle and the waste hay is what I use. Keeps it drier and the manure works down through it so it is cleaner. I do not have the top of my run covered, but I do have shelter in the run in a couple of places. My run looks much more cluttered than most peoples, but I think it helps. Even pallets can be laid on top of mud to give them a dry out place.

Mrs K
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
13 Years
Nov 18, 2007
25,636
17,729
771
Florida
My Coop
My Coop
When I let my birds out they tend to hang around the coops. Most of our land is cleared pasture so there aren't places they can run and hide from a predator. Lately I have seen more predators around. A neighbor recently lost her little dog to a coyote when she let it out of her house to do it's business.
 
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