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Suburban Chickens Free Ranging Troubles

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LaurWall, Oct 20, 2013.

  1. LaurWall

    LaurWall New Egg

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    Jul 13, 2013
    We live in the suburbs and have a nice yard and patio. Adding 4 chickens has been fun and easy. However, our love of them has prompted lots of time roaming in the yard and making a mess. We have their coop on our side yard and are planning to confine them more of of the day than we have to that area. It is all rock right now but, we will remove a large amount to give them dirt. There is not anything over on that yard as far as shrubs or plants because there is not a sprinkler system there. So, what do the chickens need to keep busy and play over there and not desire to fly "out of bounds?" It's about to be winter so, potted plants could be an option but, they would have to be very cold hardy.

    We really are loving having them as pets/egg layers. We want to walk out and enjoy our patio and lawn without poop bombs and not have them digging up all our landscaping. We will continue to let them out in all the yard when we are out there but, feel it's causing a lot more work for us to clean up after them every time we want to enjoy our backyard. Hoping for some positive input and ideas to make the side yard suitable, safe and enjoyable for our hens.

    Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
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    We have tried to make the coop look nice with this path but, the chickens love to dig up the mulch, scattering all over the rocks.
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    Headed for the patio, which is too large to fence off (and not something we want to do),
     
  2. lgelwell

    lgelwell Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Ankeny, IA
    We have given up on the nice suburban back yard... Or I have. My hubby hates the girls on the deck, hence the baby gate, but the fly over it when they want, as evidenced by chicken poop on the deck. We keep the front yard nice, and keep a whole host of "back yard only" shoes by the back door. You couldn't find a better fertilizer but as you can see the girls have claimed patches of yard as their own. As for keeping mulch pretty, lol, good luck. As you can see in the second pic, the mulch around my girlies coop is their own private playground.

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  3. LaurWall

    LaurWall New Egg

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    Jul 13, 2013
    Well, hubby is not giving in to the girls having run of the yard. He has already been to Home Depot to buy materials to build a fence to keep them on the side yard. Maybe I can give them them mulch and garden they have dug up to play in on the side yard! Do you clip your hens wings? I haven't tried this, a little scared to do it.
    Thanks for the reply! Love your yellow coop!
     
  4. lgelwell

    lgelwell Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 7, 2012
    Ankeny, IA
    I don't clip their wings because they have shown no interest in leaving the yard and as they are not penned in, I want then to be able to get away from predators if they need to. We are in a new development with several ponds and tons of geese and ducks. I think this is why we have never had any problems with fox or raccoons. Why climb a fence when there is a buffet across the street. :)
     
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri


    The free-range area you have is a bit tight even for two chickens. The grass has minimal forage value and the perimeter provides the types of locations where scratching actually works, cover is best in form of wall, and where you do not want your birds to be scratching. Your resources could be made more interesting by tilling up an area about 10' x 10' and planting heavily with annual plant that provides cover in the form of tunnels birds can mill around in for much of the day. You can set it up so shorter edible plants like clover of some sort is also present.
     
  6. jsmith2952

    jsmith2952 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 22, 2013
    Ontario, Canada
    @laurwall: I also have a similar situation (including a husband who doesn't want to sit in chicken poop when enjoying the yard!). We've been pretty fortunate though because we have fairly large, mature gardens with lots of shrubbery to tunnel under and dust bathe in. I agree it's a pain to constantly be cleaning up after them, and in between hosing off poop and raking mulch back into the gardens it can get pretty frustrating. We ended up cutting back their roaming time to a few hours in the late afternoon until bedtime, and enlarging their run. Now they have about 40 sq feet for 3 hens, and we've put some roosts in the run for them to climb on and stuff. I like centrarchid's idea of space just for the hens with annuals to forage around in. I've started doing that around the coop and run with easy perennials and shrubs in the hopes that next year I can somehow pen them in there for the most part. Would love to see what you plan to do! Good luck! :)
     

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