Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by shanilynn2010, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. shanilynn2010

    shanilynn2010 Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 3, 2010
    When my babies grow up and they are able to free range can they just go and do what they want? Or do I need to be outside with them when I do let them out? Any help appreciated!
  2. ts72712

    ts72712 Out Of The Brooder

    Oct 31, 2011
    Northwest Arkansas
    I'm new to raising chickens myself but I read....on this site I believe... that when you let them out to free range you should always watch them. Stray dogs and such are always around the corner. I personally like to just sit and watch them, see their curiosity and just how they behave, i've watched them for hours.
  3. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Flock Master Premium Member

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    It all depends on where you live. I live on a farm, and my nearest neighbor is a mile away. We really don't have stray dogs here, and even the regular wild predators aren't really a problem (my theory on that is there is enough wildlife for them to eat so they don't need to eat my chickens). Mine free range all day long, and every now and then I forget to lock them up for the night. Haven't lost any to a predator in 2 years. It seems that the suburbs and what I call rural wannabe areas have more predator problems. The more neighbors you have, and the closer they are, the greater chance of dogs getting to your birds. As far as wildlife, it's impossible to even guess what may or may not be around to get them.
  4. tigercreek

    tigercreek Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mine stay out all day, unsupervised. It all depends on your predetor population and your tolerance for losing birds. Most wild predetors only take them at night, but there are exceptions! If you are not prepared to have any taken, do not let them free range. Hawks will take chicks and smaller birds during the day, sometimes right in front of you, but the foxes, coons and such MOSTLY are nocturnal. .....stan
  5. zzGypsy

    zzGypsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 8, 2011
    this is really a management decision - if you don't supervise, you may have more losses to predators - it depends on how your facility is, perimeter fencing, what kind of predators you have...

    we're on 40 acres, our birds free range during the day, they are not supervised. they put themselves up at night, although we're changing their coop so for the next couple of weeks I need to be there before dusk to get them in the new habit. we have LGDs, but they're not currently running the same field as the birds. we do have coyotes, so everyone is in at night. we do know that we could lose birds. we've lost 2 chickens to hawks, but so far that's all.

    some folks keep their birds in fully covered pens, others free range with supervision, some just free range. you have to decide what you're comfortable with.
  6. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I agree it depends on where you live. I am in a very rural area and let my birds free range. My coops are behind my barn and I do watch them to some extent as they are inquisitive and like to check out everything. I will find my hay scattered all over and they poop on things in the barn get on the shelves and knock things off. I would shut the doors if I had any but we built the barn without doors on two sides do we could just drive the tractors through. My coops do have fenced in yards and there is an electric fence around them all. I have heard critters at night sometimes touch the fence and I can tell by the surprised sounds they make. I guarantee they don't come back to test it again. I don't shut the pop doors at night so the birds can go in and out of the coops whenever they like.
  7. turbodog

    turbodog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2010
    Independence, La.
    We live out in the country on a dead end road so not much in the way of traffic. Haven't seen any stray dogs and the nearest neighbor keeps his penned. We let our girls free range for 2 or 3 hours each evening, pretty much unsupervised. They put themselves to bed, then we'll close and latch the door on our open air coop. I worry more about nocturnal predators. We do see the occasional hawk but (knock on wood) they haven't been an issue yet. It's a crapshoot when you choose to free range, but the chickens seem so much happier when they get to go out. One of my girls complains at me each time I walk past the coop during the day and don't open the door. I remind her it's not time for her to go out yet...then realize I'm talking back to a chicken...[​IMG]
  8. babettenj

    babettenj Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 10, 2009
    Mine are locked up tight at night, let into the run for morning and early afternoon, and then free range for a few hours before they put themselves to bed. In 2 years we had only one hawk attack that the rooster chased off- the hen's skin was ripped off, but she recovered. That rooster (went to freezer camp) was MEAN, MEAN , MEAN and very vigilant about protecting his flock. Fall is hawk migration time so a bit more dangerous here. We live on 3 acres with protected parkland to one side and a farm on the other. The girls don't stray off our property. They do love being out in the yard.
  9. donnavee

    donnavee Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 7, 2009
    Central NC
    I agree with the others, each situation is different. When we first started with chickens and later ducks, free range time was only an hour or so befor bedtime while we supervised. You will probably want to start out that way - your chickens will gradually get accostomed to their new area and you can see how they react to any potential threat. As time went on, we became a bit more relaxed and let them free range longer. Now, they are out all day in a large semi-wooded area with lots of cover and CD's hung from the trees. Everyone gets locked up tightly at night. We have only lost one duck to what probably was a hawk and she had wandered out into a different area where we didn't realize she had built a nest.

    We are home all day too and make regular trips to visit with the chickens and keep our eyes and ears on the lookout for hawks.
  10. UrbanFarmerGreg

    UrbanFarmerGreg Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 11, 2011
    I live in the city and my neighbors are super close therefor I can't really let my hens and ducks free range... I do occasionally let them out but I stay and watch them as I don't want any complaining neighbors... We also have a lot of stray cats around and dogs too... Its totally up to you as long as you don't mind them wandering off and that there is a chance something might kill them. Also make sure you've had them long enough that they know where 'home' is so they don't just run away...

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