Thinking about free ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Photokitty, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Photokitty

    Photokitty Chirping

    Jul 6, 2017
    Marlinton, West Virginia
    It has been pointed out by a few people that I have a lot of birds in one run. This I know, but I would love to expand the run but can't do it until the spring.

    I am considering letting the chickens free-range. They all know coop as home.
    I have a few concerns though:

    1. I have hawks, eagles and turkey buzzards. They have plenty of trees around their coop for covering, it is a line of trees between my yard and the cow pasture (ours as well).
    2. Will they poop everywhere?? My husband seems to think they will poop on the car, but it is pretty far from the coop (about 100 yards). He also doesn't want them pooping on the porch, again the porch is about 10 yards away.
    3. I have some... interesting roosters, not roos, but I have sebrights that roost in trees, which is why I have bird netting. It wasn't because of overhead attacks, it was because they want to roost HIGH, they roost in the top gable of coop.
    4. I have kids, I cannot be out there all the time with them... can I let them out for a little while?

    I have 50ish chickens and 8 ducks (who wouldn't be leaving the coop) in a run. The ducks I think would like a break from the chickens once and a while. Again everyone is getting upgrades in the spring.
    IslaBean likes this.
  2. SIMZ

    SIMZ Crowing

    Apr 29, 2011
    Northwest Indiana
    Every time you let your chickens outside to free range they are in danger of a predator attack of some kind. It's just how it is. Cover is good and will help them avoid it, but it's a very real possibility.

    Yes, they will poop everywhere. lol Mine have never pooped on my car, but everywhere else. Your porch is probably the first place they'll go! ;)

    I like to let mine out an hour or two before they'd go in to roost. It keeps them closer to home and helps them sort out how it works. From there you can let them out earlier. It's nice to stay out with them, but usually not practical. Again - the risk you take is predator attacks, but even being there doesn't always stop those.
    Ohana Nena, BY Bob, greggooo and 6 others like this.
  3. RUNuts

    RUNuts Crowing

    May 19, 2017
    Eastern Houston
    Yes, they will poop everywhere they go. I'm guessing there is not a lot of interesting stuff on the porch for a chicken, so it won't be much. Move the cat food.

    I let mine roam in the evenings before bedtime. Works well. Delays supper, but the kids are grown. Make it a family activity? The kids may love chicken TV. With dark coming earlier, try it. Could also lock the kids in a closet, but I don't recommend that. :)
  4. Photokitty

    Photokitty Chirping

    Jul 6, 2017
    Marlinton, West Virginia
    LOL. no I can't lock them in the closet unfortunately. At 22months and 3.5years the chickens are more then enough entertainment. They helped me catch a rogue goat this morning and love catching chickens when they escape from the coop (when I have the human door open). I actually put up that fence you get for bunnies to have a play yard. I have two of them and so I made a mini-run just outside their coop and it helped immensely with the flow and the ducks just enjoyed that. It allows the others to come out an enjoy the newly pine shaving run. I cleaned out the coop and i just shove the pine shavings out the pop door (its pretty big) and then they spread it over the entire run. It helps after a lot of rain and if they have been digging holes.

    I may let them free range nearer to dark. I just think they are too bored in the run, 50 chickens can go through treats and boredom busters in a heartbeat.
    Ashley McDaniel likes this.
  5. Kathy Golla

    Kathy Golla Songster

    Jan 2, 2017
    San Francisco Bay Area
    I have a little bit of the same situation as you, minus the hawks. I started realizing I was providing mostly food related boredom busters in the pen, and making the hens fat (and into beggars). So now they free range about 90 minutes before bed. It's fun watching them get exercise by running across the yard. I poop scoop every night (takes about 2 mins) as our dogs love to eat chicken poop and it gives them a stomachache.
  6. Farmer Connie

    Farmer Connie All My Friends Have Hoofs

    Feb 28, 2017
    Florida Peninsula
    My Coop
    I feel your pain lol
    Photokitty and TwinsLoveChicks like this.
  7. Pork Pie

    Pork Pie Flockwit

    Jan 30, 2015
    I'd give it a try. If the losses, due to predators become unacceptable, then you will know if it's a good idea or not.
  8. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams

    Hey Photokitty

    If I can, just a tip .. chickens like routine so if you are going to let them out occasionally, try and mix up the time you let them out.

    I work from home and used to let my gals out for supervised free range every afternoon at 4PM. They started ‘appealing’ to be let out from 3PM onwards, so I let them go unsupervised for an hour and then I joined them at 4PM.

    Their ‘appealing’ then started happening at 2PM and they then had 2 hours unsupervised before I joined them .. see where this is going? They ended up all day free ranging :rolleyes:

    So, yeah, if you can and your chickens are demanding like mine and if you have neighbours, mix up the times so that they do not get into a routine. If you do not have neighbours and you are not trying to concentrate on work, all good ;)

    As I type, I am 15mins late for their 4PM meal worm and Crystal is letting me know that she is not happy! :p
  9. Farmer Connie

    Farmer Connie All My Friends Have Hoofs

    Feb 28, 2017
    Florida Peninsula
    My Coop
  10. Sunshine Flock

    Sunshine Flock Crowing

    Sep 27, 2017
    Northern California
    Fifty chickens free ranging at the same time? You must post a video!!

    It sounds like a fantastical zoo!!! :p

    If there's any doubt about the run size, this is probably the best option for you until spring, but it's my guess loss will be inevitable. Some folks see loss as unfortunate but worth the risk. Chickens love roaming and digging, and I feel they're healthier for it.

    So let them birdies out! But fifty frequent poopings a happy husband does not make. Mine can barely handle six.

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