Should I just let the chickens out??

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ThinkingChickens, May 10, 2011.

  1. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Okay, my girls are being so MEAN! I let them free range every day for an hour or two. The rest of the time they are in an enclosed run. We are building them a huge walk in run (8'x10') but that takes a bit of time. Anyway, we wanted to get three more baby chicks and introduce them eventually. I guess my question is, should I just let the chickens free range or am I just asking for them to be killed. We have a sectioned off area of yard with a partial tree cover. We have six foot high solid cedar fencing. The chickens would have a large deck they could go under for cover. The neighbors dog can see them through one spot of chain link fence but he's a bulldog and could care less. Plus, he's old. I have dogs as well but they stay in unless I'm home. The only real predator I can see would be neighboring cats (and they are small) or possibly a hawk. I can't really see a hawk being able to swoop being that there is this tree cover and if he landed in the tree the whole thing would shake like crazy and the chickens would see. What do you guys do? Do you just let your girls roam? The total fenced area is about 30' by maybe 20' or so.

    I've always been afraid of them getting eaten or hurt but I think they are being mean because they want freedom. Today my 16 week old girl bit me and drew blood when I was petting them in the coop after bedtime. Eek.
     
  2. mpguay

    mpguay Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 27, 2011
    I worried also before i let the girls out. But I now I dont hesitate. They have so much FUN scratching and exploring. and its my evening entertainment to watch. I wouldnt deny them free range, even if it means an occasional incident. I think they also get smarter when they can free range.

    The predator attacks i have had, came from sundown to sunup. I havent had a problem during the daylight hours. I had one neighbor cat tangle with my roo, and havent had a problem since.

    I secure the coop thoroughly at night. The hens ALWAYS return to the coop and their roost at sundown. They dont wander far - maybe 100 yards from their coop.

    Do you have a family dog or cat?

    How close are your neighbors?
     
  3. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Free range any chicken that you wouldn't mind losing....
     
  4. ThinkingChickens

    ThinkingChickens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 18, 2011
    Well, I don't want to lose any chickens as they are our pets and we have a four year old who loves them. Our neighbors are a fence away. We have a regular backyard and the chickens have a portion of it. I guess we'll continue our routine and keep working on the larger walk in run.
     
  5. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    As was said, it really depends on how okay you are with risks. That being said, I love my chickens (my girls anyway...lol). They are very spoiled girls and are treated as pets. They will live here until they die, whether they lay eggs or not. I do allow them to free range (and they have a HUGE covered run - 16 x 32!!) because I love watching them enjoy themselves pecking about the yard (our property is fenced) and visiting us on the front porch. I KNOW there are risks, but it's worth it to me. I look at quality of life over quantity of life (for people too) - that's my rationale. They just seem so happy when they're out and about. I know it's possible that a dog could get into my yard, and we do have hawks about (although the girls are great about taking cover when they are). I will be heartbroken if that happens, but I will know that they lived a very good chicken life. I've lost two birds since I've had chickens, and neither case was due to predators. It was sad, but I knew they'd lived good chicken lives. So maybe it depends on your outlook on life and death [​IMG]
     
  6. 2DogsFarm

    2DogsFarm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 10, 2009
    NW Indiana
    Listen to Mahonri

    I was letting my girls freerange from 6A until I got home from work.
    Even then, I'd leave them out as they would put themselves to bed in the coop as soon as it got dusk.
    Sigh.....
    That was Then, this is Now.

    [​IMG]
    With 5ac of their own to wander, my hens chose to walk acorss the road - not too busy, but still some car traffic - to "visit" the only neighbors who care about their landscaping & rearrange their mulch [​IMG]
    Neighbors asked me (nicely) to keep them home, I had to comply.
    To be honest, I was more concerned that they were crossing that road!

    So now they stay in their roomy, fenced yard until I get home & then they get a couple hours freedom.
    Still laying like crazy, so I expect they have adapted.

    FWIW: when they had total freedom I was out with them one morning & had a hawk swoop so close he was at my eye level - girls were smart enough to run for cover under some bushes, but still...

    Yet, if it wasn't for those neighbors I'd still be turning them loose.
    As others have said I get pleasure watching them, but understand that pleasure includes the risk of loss too.
     
  7. chkinut

    chkinut Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 25, 2010
    Leesburg, Ohio
    i use to worry too, i even bought them a big dog kennel for their run (when i had 4 girls). i use to let them free range for about an hour around dinner time as i watched them out my window when i cooked dinner. then the free range times just got longer cuz i saw what fun they were having. now they just free range all day long. i have a 6ft cedar fence and we live in town. i have a cat and 2 dogs. there are neighbor cats, but they never come around during the day....maybe cuz of MY cat....lol....i clip their wings just to be safe....and i have never had a problem. i've seen some hawks, but i have never had a incident. the girls are great about taking cover i've noticed. they're more fun to watch when the free range. i have an Olive Egger that chases down wild birds....she just runs after them....its hilarious!!! it's like she's saying "you're no chicken!!! get outta here!! you can't fool ME!"...lol....and plus, i feel like quality of life is important. they are SO happy scratching for bugs, plants .....dust bathing where they please......etc
     

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