To free range or not to free range..that is the question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by ChickenCrazedMoma, Jun 25, 2010.

  1. ChickenCrazedMoma

    ChickenCrazedMoma Out Of The Brooder

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    Mar 31, 2010
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    Okay so right now our family lives in town so our girls share a large back yard with the kids and dogs. They have a huge coop and pen and are happy as can be right now. However we just bought a farm and are getting ready to make the move. My hubby says we should let the girls free range once we make the move but being the over protective and worried momma that I am I have doubts. We are making a list of pro's and cons and just wanted to hear what you guys think on the topic.
     
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2010
  2. Heathercp

    Heathercp Chillin' With My Peeps

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  3. 7cutechix

    7cutechix Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 9, 2009
    East Central Indiana
    We live in the country and I was afraid my chickens would be eaten so I kept them in their run all of last year. Once the weather got nice and the snow melted away they just had a big dirt run and I kept looking on this forum for reasons to not let them out. I found out that if I let them out just a couple hours before sundown they will not go far, and only when I am home. I feel relatively safe with that....and they are VERY happy running around the back yard! I really would be too afraid of dogs, the road, etc to let them out all day. Good luck!
     
  4. Dingleberry

    Dingleberry Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 22, 2010
    Woodinville
    I agree with 7cutechix. A few hours before bed at first.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    chickens love to free range, train them to come to you, so you can lock them back up. They do need a run, so as they can spend time there safely. You can let them run from dawn to dusk, but you are going to loose some. Predators get chickens. You can go long spells without losing any, or lose a bunch at once.

    My girls get let out often, it is a risk I am willing to take, and I do wind up replacing them occasionally. However, I think they are happier, healthier and cleaner free ranging at least part of the time.

    If losing a chicken is going to upset you, or bother your kids, keep them in the run. I taught my kids that it was sad, but a fact of life. Predators need to eat too. They are not bad, just opportunistic, and our job was to limit the opportunites. They just make me mad.

    mk
     
  6. annie3001

    annie3001 My Girls

    Jun 11, 2009
    Ct.
    Quote:off the subject!!! what kind of chicken is in your avatar?
    interesting feathering?
     
  7. cafe

    cafe Out Of The Brooder

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    May 12, 2010
    West Central Indiana
    Mrs. K :

    chickens love to free range, train them to come to you, so you can lock them back up. They do need a run, so as they can spend time there safely. You can let them run from dawn to dusk, but you are going to loose some. Predators get chickens. You can go long spells without losing any, or lose a bunch at once.

    My girls get let out often, it is a risk I am willing to take, and I do wind up replacing them occasionally. However, I think they are happier, healthier and cleaner free ranging at least part of the time.

    If losing a chicken is going to upset you, or bother your kids, keep them in the run. I taught my kids that it was sad, but a fact of life. Predators need to eat too. They are not bad, just opportunistic, and our job was to limit the opportunites. They just make me mad.

    mk

    I like your philosophy.​
     
  8. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    Under the proper conditions it is the best way for chickens to live. By "proper conditions" I mean, it helps to have a good perimeter fence around your free range area. Something like a good woven wire farm-type fence so that dogs have trouble accessing their range area during the day hours.

    Also, it is a great idea to have a dog that is trained to leave your chickens to their own devices but will guard them against predators and other dogs. This is a tremendous help in keeping your birds safe. My dogs also clean up the chicken poop and the chickens help disperse and clean up the dog poop....the perfect symbiosis!

    Also a good idea to have plenty of places for them to run to for attacks from above. They can see and will run from hawk predation if they have a good rooster to call the alarm and places to duck into.

    You may still lose a few....I lost my first few this year to hawks as my old dog has gotten too old to be as watchful as she had always been. But, still, not a bad record seeing that I have been free ranging with and without a perimeter fence for 5 years now. I prefer with the fence....my birds still flow through it sometimes and range out into the fields on either side but not usually.

    It really is worth it to see how content your chickens are and you won't have to deal with feather picking, bare runs full of muck, or lack of space if you want to increase your flock. You also get the added benefit of greater tasting eggs, healthier chickens, less bugs in your yard and gardens and the joy of seeing pretty hens strutting and sunning themselves on fresh green grass.
     
  9. eKo_birdies

    eKo_birdies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:Amen to ALL of that!!!!

    A good flock protecting dog is worth it's weight in gold!!! I have a Rott that likes to just lay in the shade w/ all the chickens while the little active APBT runs all over the property scanning for anything she perceives to be a threat.

    I like your take on the dogs helping "clean" up the chicken poop!!!! [​IMG] (at my house that job is left to the 3 little terriers and the mutt dog..yuck! [​IMG])

    But really, once you see how happy the flock is you will wonder why you didn't do it sooner!!
     
  10. Wifezilla

    Wifezilla Positively Ducky

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    Colorado
    Freerange with supervision if you can. I can't anymore. Stupid hawks [​IMG]
    I do, however, have a rather huge run for my birds and it is covered in netting. There are grape vines covering part of it for shade and a shrub or two for napping under. They also have a pool. I give them greens daily and they do forage for bugs. I wish I could give thme more time on grass, but that hawk keeps stopping by to see if the birds are out from under the net. Last week she showed her baby where the fluffy snacks live [​IMG]
     

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