To fence or to run free?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by KatieAlice, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. KatieAlice

    KatieAlice New Egg

    Apr 30, 2009
    We have a 1-acre mostly wooded lot in town (bordered on one side by a small creek). We will getting 4 or 5 adult laying hens for the summer (to be butchered in the fall). My plan is to build a small coop/roosting place to lock them in at night. I would like to however, let them run free during the day. Any thoughts on how far they might wander? Any daytime predators to be concerned about? Any other unforseen problems with this?
  2. ducks4you

    ducks4you Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jan 20, 2009
    East Central Illinois
    I would be VERY concerned about raccoons and coyotes. Coyotes are ALL over the place, now. Even 10 years ago there were reports of them in MAJOR big cities. Unless you pay country boys a bounty nobody eradicates them. You could find ALL of your birds gone in one day. Everybody likes chicken and everthing tastes like it.[​IMG]

    When you hear them howl that means that there are too many coyotes for the food supply.

    ALSO, hawks and owls will pick them off.

    Thanks for listening.[​IMG]
  3. Robin'sBrood

    Robin'sBrood Flock Mistress

    May 8, 2008
    North Carolina
    I would fence them.
  4. mygor

    mygor Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 2, 2009
    Mount Perry , Ohio
    I don't free range but my neighbor did. His chickens came up to my place everyday(over 500ft). Now my hens are 8 years old and don't lay much anymore. My neighbor has none! We do have a high ratio of predators here of all kinds. All I can say is if you let them run free. You must expect losses.
  5. GardeNerd

    GardeNerd Chillin' With My Peeps

    I live in the middle of a very urban area. We have coyotes, raccoons, 3 kinds of hawks, among other things. I always have my hens cooped up, in the run, in the tractor, or in the yard with me supervising at all times. And my yard is only 6100 sq. feet.

    Read around in the predator and pests forums on BYC. You get the idea just how many folks have had losses to predators when they free range both in the cities and the country.

    A movable tractor will give them a bit more variety and access to grass with less of the risk a predator attack.
  6. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Doesn't even take wildlife. Probably the most common, and totally devastating, *daytime* predator is Someone's Loose Dog. You may not notice them now. Once you have chickens, you will. Once. Amid feathers.

    Good luck,

  7. Brickman House

    Brickman House Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2009
    Well, it sounds like if you're on an acre in town, that you've got neighbors.

    My hens roam a fenced acre, and I can guarantee you that if it weren't fenced, they'd roam much further than that. Even with the fence, some of the hens decide to go wandering, and I occasionally get a call from a neighbor to come retrieve one out of a flowerbed or walking down the lane or something.

    If your yard is fenced, it's up to you whether you want to risk the daytime predators (we have very few and have been quite lucky *knock wood*), so having the hens roam the yard works for us.

    But if your yard isn't fenced, you're running a real risk of them leaving your property and becoming a real nuisance to others, or getting hurt on their own.
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    Considering your circumstances, I would recommend a tractor or a pen, as conditions are probably not optimal for free ranging unless you have a good perimeter fence.

    As was mentioned before, dogs, name it...they will be after the easiest food source in the neighborhood...your hens!

    Also, the first time your hens tear up your neighbor's landscaping you might have to reimburse them for the damages.
  9. Suburban chick farmer 09

    Suburban chick farmer 09 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 21, 2009
    St. Louis MO
    If I can't be outside with the chickens, the only way they are allowed to roam our fenced yard is with the dogs. Our dogs treat the chickens like they do our kids.
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  10. Cajunsamoan

    Cajunsamoan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 2, 2009
    My coop is inside my goat pen that is approximately an acre. The chickens that are able to fly out tend to roam a five acre area. I have dogs that keep most critters at bay. I have had coons and fox try to sneak off with a chicken in the middle of the day. The dogs got them. I would DEFINITELY fence. Hope that helps.

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