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

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by honeynajar, Nov 22, 2013.

  1. honeynajar

    honeynajar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    [​IMG]If I order 50 Rainbow Ranger/Broilers from Meyer Hatchery for delivery May 1, keep them inside until they ok to be outside, take them to the run at night, keeping the coop doors closed and shutting the run door - with them all in the run..... then in the am - open the door so they can free range in the yard... will they go back to the run the next night? So I can shut them in to keep them safe overnight? Or am I expecting too much? My coop isn't big enough to house them AND my egg layers. TIA for help with this kinda dumb question.
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    If the run is covered and predator proof, that will work. They'll only be around about 10 or so weeks at the most so won't be roosting. In May they'll probably only need heat about 3 weeks.
    Wherever they've slept for a few nights, they'll go back in there at dusk.
     
  3. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I'm planning to get more meat birds in April, and its still very chilly here in April and can freeze until May 15.

    Based on how I did it before, I will keep them in the garage with an EcoGlow for 2-3 weeks (I kicked the summer/fall ones out at 10-11 days because it was quite warm here) until they are mostly feathered, then out to the mobile coop for 7-9 more weeks.

    Keep them in the coop for a few days then let them free range. They are pretty good at putting themselves to bed. I did provide a roost about 12 inches off the ground, but most of my FRs were too lazy to jump up there (lol). I made sure they had feed in addition to the grazing, and they generally ate, then grazed, then rested, then repeated in the evening. I closed up at dark.

    LOTS of poop.
     
  4. honeynajar

    honeynajar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The run is NOT covered. We could cover part of it with a tarp. Perhaps I should wait until later in the month to get them so they can go out. I guess if I kept them penned in the run for the first couple of days then they would be fine to go free ranging. It will be interesting to see if we lose many to predators during the day. The poop is understandable - I had a ton of it in the other part of the run - that's why I thought free ranging would be a good idea to cut down on the poop issue. Will continue to mull the option over as we don't have a chicken tractor... "YET" as that's on the honeydo list but seems to keep shifting to the bottom of the list. Thanks for your help![​IMG]
     
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    They will still poop in there at night.
    Meaties are vulnerable to hawks. I lost 10% of my 50 freedom rangers late last winter to hawks.
    Without a covered run, poorly feathered birds will be sitting outside in the rain and wind in potentially cool weather.
     
  6. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I had no losses to predators, and mine were out in a pasture, no fences.

    I moves the coop every day because of the sheer amount of poop produced every night. Yuck.
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2013
  7. honeynajar

    honeynajar Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yes they will poop at night but that's a ton less than 24/7. :) the run is covered with a net so they will be fine from predators during the night and I've got a few tarps I can use too. But I've got some pesky roos - I've got 4 - 3 of which are bantam and the leader is a frizzle bantam. I wonder what he will do to the meaties. Lil turd likes to rule the roost! I bent over and he [​IMG] jumped on MY back! The nerve! [​IMG]
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    Just at night is way better than 24/7.

    What kind of net will keep raccoons out? Pound for pound they're about the strongest animal I know. If they can shred chicken wire.......
     
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    They'll go back in the coop at night just fine. I free ranged 54 CX all over 3 acres last spring, starting at 2 wks of age, and we were still in the freezing temps at night here in March when they arrived. Brooded them outside in a hoop coop in a hay bale brooder for a couple of weeks then free ranged them from there on out up to 10 wks. Never lost a one to a pred, a few drowned at 3 wks in the dog's water bucket trying to mimic a WR rooster I had running with them...he liked to drink out of the dog's bucket.

    We are completely surrounded by woods here with the full accompaniment of predators, aerial and four legged. Had one good dog on watch but his boundary didn't cover the whole 3 acres. Tried them in an electric poultry fence at first but had bought the sheep fencing by mistake and they just melted through the squares like water so I gave up on the fence and just let them range. Worked out great!
     
  10. SunnySkies

    SunnySkies Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We did something similar as Beekissed. Hoop coop, birds were allowed out to roam, and at dark, I closed them up. I have LGDs because of severe predator pressure, but lost none of the meaties to predators. I got tired of the poop in the coop from the night and thus moved that coop in the day so they had fresh grass to sleep on. No fence, but they didn't roam as much as my layers, who will cover the entire 7 acres in a day.

    Interestingly enough, my free ranging Roos did not bother the meaties. I think they had gotten used to each other during the week or two the babies were in after I kicked them out of the brooder. I have 8 free ranging roosters, any of which are tough.

    The only net that will keep coons out is hardware cloth. Or electric.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2013

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