Safety vs freedom

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by two early, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. two early

    two early Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 21, 2011
    I used to let everyone out all day, every day. Then the hawks started perching in the trees and doing fly overs. The crows help somewhat to chase the
    hawks, but I don't have a contract with them so...... What to do? The rooster is mad at me and spends lots of time staring through the fence. I let them out for about one hour everyday before it gets dark and I can spend time out with them, throwing stones at the hawks. So the battle is: do I let them out to be free chickens and let the rooster protect them (I have seen him herd them into the coop when he senses danger) or keep them pretty much contained in their run/coop and just feel guilt about the whole darned thing, but keep them very safe? My hubby votes for safety, me for freedom. Any comments?
  2. pawsplus

    pawsplus Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 18, 2008
    Middle TN
    Mine are pets. I love them and want them to be safe. I provide a very roomy coop and run with plenty of stuff to do, and I don't have to worry about them. I would feel simply horrible if something happened to them b/c I didn't protect them. So for me, they get safety and RELATIVE freedom (i.e., roomy, interesting digs). [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2011
  3. Niss

    Niss Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2011
    To paraphase Franklin the chicken who traids freedom for security deserves neither.

    Sorry, I couldn't help it. Um, we use to free range our chickens until we lost many in each of two dog attacks. Then we kept them penned at all times. The feed bill sky rocketed and we weren't getting the pest control benefit so now we free range in the evenings and on weekends. It's a compromise that works for us. I guess it has to do with the reasons you keep them, the cover/protection they have when out, and the size of your run. Good luck!
  4. duckinnut

    duckinnut Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2010
    Marshfield, Ma.
    Quote:I wrestle with this myself,granted their run is 220 sq ft.and I have about 800sqft plus of free range area that is open above and is surrounded with snow fence that I move around to different areas to beat boredom and let the grass and bugs regenerate. But that is the extent of their roaming,i live on an acre with alot of woodland surrounding.Thats where the problem lies,I am more worried with 4 legged creatures than aerial attacks. Coyotes and fox worry me,at least inside the fenced in area they got time to beat feet back inside the coop,same goes for the hawks as the run is covered. I have a watchful rooster that I considered getting rid of but he does such a wonderful job of looking after his harem.He lets everyone know anything overhead bigger than a robin. He had all then hens looking one morn,course I wasnt ,i was what the heck is everybody looking at? Just a big whitetail doe cruising thru.

    But as far as letting them run around with no constraints I just cant do it. To feed a fox or coyote after all the money and time I have put into them,cant have it. Thats how i thought in the beginning,they are just chickens but now I protect like I would my children. Never realized how personable they can be and fun to be with.
  5. NYRIR

    NYRIR Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 13, 2010
    I am a bit on the freedom side....but then again,I allow all 3 of my cats to go outdoors and stay out as long as they desire.I think if you have room to should but expect some losses.I would use something to deter hawks if they are a big problem like the fish line or some netting but I think that all animals are happier with more freedom.Just my opinion...
    I too have a little over an acre and live 3/4 of a mile from an eagle breeding center [​IMG] where he releases them every spring! So far I have had 3 close (and I mean close) calls from a hawk that he "rehabbed" and released.But in a year and a half I have had zero losses.All around the edge of my property on all sides are woods...but I put up some 4 foot american fencing and it keeps any stray dogs out...I should also add that my yard has TONS of spaces for them to hide...I have trees and bushes in the yard,the coops are all built up at least a foot from the ground as well.I added geese this year too as I heard they deter flying predators.
    I would say if I were you I would do what i could to deter the hawks...then free range.If losses are really great I would rethink it and try to come up with more deterrents and try again.I am just one of the people on the side of freedom as much as possible.I only have my ducks and turkeys in runs due to space...not predators.
    Of course the decision is yours...but I understand your feelings on freedom...I think they are happier (especially if they had it...and now don't) My turkeys and ducks have never free-ranged so i think it makes a difference if they don't know it first.If they are used to it...and then lose it...I would think they would be unhappy [​IMG]
    Maybe if you had new chickens and started them out from the get-go on a schedule like that they would be more accepting...or maybe they will get used to it in time...either way,good luck...and sorry you are dealing with heavy predation [​IMG]
  6. Niss

    Niss Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 29, 2011
    NYRIR--Wow, you are doing great! We've lost 11 to one dog and 4 to night time predation (they wanted to sleep out [​IMG])...and we've only been at it since March!

    I will say my birds seem okay in the run (which is large) and adapted well to our current schedule of coming out after work and heading in at dusk. It was actually the sleeping inside thing that took the most time, as we were rehoming the adults. I do get more eggs when they are locked up through the day--they can't really hide them, or maybe they lay out of boredom [​IMG]
  7. dawg53

    dawg53 Humble

    Nov 27, 2008
    Jacksonville, Florida
    Safety first. Chickens are on everybody's and everything's menu. It sounds like you have a good protective rooster. A hawk can and will take on a rooster and win, you dont want to lose him for freedom's sake. It would be best if someone was out with them while they are free ranging.
  8. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Quote:[​IMG] Well, I'm not speaking from experience because, although I do freerange daily, I haven't lost any to predators yet, so maybe I'd be of a different mindset if I had. Our main daytime predator here is dogs and hawks. We have field fence around our property, so dogs are generally not an issue. We have lots of red tails around here (and lots of crows that often sound the alarm), but we have lots of, outbuildings, a line of cedar trees, etc. So I'd look at what you can do to give your chickens more cover, especially in the areas that are really open. We have a very ample covered run, but I know I'd feel really guilty containing them all day now that they're use to freeranging. Maybe I'd feel differently though if I'd lost several to hawks [​IMG] That didn't really help much, did it???[​IMG]
  9. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It is purely a personal choice. How important is each chicken to you? I can't answer for you.

    I generally free range. I've lost two hens over three years. When I lose one, I keep them penned for about a month so the predator learns there is not always a free meal around. I'm not happy with any losses but I can accept this rate. We have hawks all over the place, but I don't think either loss was to a hawk. I'm pretty sure one was to a neighbor's pup that also chased horses and cows and is no longer with us. The other was probably a fox, but I'm not sure.

    If you free range, you take the risk of a loss, even if you are out with them. The odds of a loss are going to be different for each of us. How devastating would a loss be to you or your husband? You can always try and see what happens, but there are risks.
  10. BlackBrookPoultry

    BlackBrookPoultry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 15, 2010
    Western Wisconsin
    My chickens are much happier when they free range. Ocassionally, I have to keep them in the run and all they do is pace and try to find a way out. I would rather have them get taken by a predator leading a life where they get to forage and be chickens rather than extending a life where they are stressed and unhappy. That said, I live in 25 acres of woods on a river. I have had an owl, coyotes, fox, neighbor dogs and a mink kill my ducks and chickens. I have to have my dog out most of the day to deter predators. I also don't work so I am home all day to keep an eye on things. If I was gone for 8+ hours every day I would probably invest in a LGD to watch over my flock.

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