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

Shadow920

Chirping
Sep 16, 2015
402
51
94
With lots of snow and rain the last few weeks I've been feeling like a terrible chicken mom. Their run has become a giant muddy disaster. Theres no grass left and no where for them to dust bath or scratch around. They live in muck with the only dry place being inside the coop.Recently we moved our flock to my inlaws house in the country because I couldn't part with my big Roo and the neighbors weren't fond of his wake up calls. With them being close to federal wooded land and having a large wide open back yard I was nervous to let them free range. We have 2 fake owls on posts to keep hawks away, but we would need 10 more to cover the property. I'm also afraid of foxes, coyotes, or raccoons getting them. I'm so torn on risking their safety to let them free range and have access to lots of food and foraging areas. I feel terrible about their current run even though it's large. Since this is my first flock I would love for some advice and opinions on my situation. Thank you so much in advance!
most chicken predators are nocturnal. as long as you close them up at night they should be fine 98% of the time. hawks are your main daytime concern and dogs can be a problem too if you have any neighbors with dogs that run loose. i personally worry more about my dog killing my chickens than i do hawks though i have had my fair share of hawk problems. in fact the only predators that haven't killed my birds yet are skunks and foxes. if i do let my birds free range i just keep a close watch. if you see a hawk they'll fly off if you run to your birds.
 

Going Quackers

Crowing
9 Years
May 24, 2011
7,834
964
371
On, Canada
I've done both and in combination depending on which flock it was( we have some layers, bantams, at one time heritage etc)

For the most part the free ranging of the larger birds was fine until the foxes discovered the place now i won't, i lose to many birds. So the layers have a Huge 1/4 field they roam in.
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,812
32,474
942
British Columbia, Canada
Some breeds seem to be far more predator aware as well, my Barnvelders are very skittish and alarm and flee for cover at the slightest provocation. My 4-5 week old sapphires actually made the aerial predator call and took cover when a plane flew low over the property one day... they dove under their heat plate, they are in a brooder with a cover, and in an inclosed garage as well!
 

Kris5902

Crossing the Road
Oct 12, 2018
4,812
32,474
942
British Columbia, Canada
One of the benefits to living on an island is there isn’t a lot of variety in our chicken predators... one wolf hybrid that went feral was brought in as a pet, and we’ve had one cougar swim over. Both of these were island wide hunts... the wolf managed to survive for 8 months and took out two smaller flocks of sheep. No one here has LGD’s. If anyone tried to bring a pest or predator animal, there would be a large public outcry.
 

alex5chickens

Songster
Dec 2, 2018
62
123
122
Northern Wisconsin
I would mulch the whole run to prevent runoff pollution and keep your chickens feet dry. I would also consider roping off part of the run and planting grass and clover, and have the plants mature before allowing the chickens back in.
good luck!
 

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