To Free Range, or Not to Free Range...

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by Brian, Feb 28, 2008.

  1. Brian

    Brian Songster

    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    OK, I'm suitably impressed with everyone's horror stories of predation. However, on the flip side, I realize the chickens would be happiest if they could cruise the 2.5 acres here, flipping over leaves, etc. And...the eggs will be healthier too. So, now I can't decide which way to go: penned hens, vs. free-range. There are hawks in the area.
    Comments? Advice?
  2. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    Jul 9, 2007
    always changing
    Have a pen that they can go to bed in at night. If you keep them in there for awhile they will learn that is their bed and feed them in there for awhile. Around your yard have lots of things that they can hide under in case the hawks start flying around. Sometimes my husband goes out there and makes hawk noise and the chickens all run and hide. For the most part, they stay under stuff a lot, but they run around my one acre a lot too. Mine just put them selves away just before dark and I go shut the door. But then sometimes they lay their eggs where ever and I don't know what bush or obstacle to look under to find them. hee hee
  3. lizardz

    lizardz Songster

    Jul 18, 2007
    Grass Valley, CA
    I let my chickies have "supervised" free-range time. They are typically kept penned due to the resident bobcat. I know, I could trap it or whatever, but I prefer not to go that route (if he starts breaking into their pen, I'll rethink this decision, but for now all is well). So, what I do is, a few times a week, let them out when I get home or on the weekend for a couple of hours. I stay out with them either doing yard work or reading a book or just enjoying watching them. This has seems to work for us - they seem happy, the eggs are yummy, I get some time to unwind, and no more missing chickies! Good luck with your decision.
  4. countrygirl4513

    countrygirl4513 Songster

    Apr 14, 2007
    Portland TN
    Mine are free range. Yes, there is a definite risk with the boogie men swooping in. Mine go in at night and lay eggs in the house too. But it is a personal decision, IMO. You take a risk but my kids are so much happier doing their business freely than being penned. I've had 1 aerial attack in 1 year. I've had 3 dog attacks in that time frame, while they were still penned. They at least have the ability to seek cover when free ranging. That's why I long for spring to be sprung. I'm ready for the leaves to come out as a protection layer for my kids.
  5. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    I can only free range when I can be out there to supervise.
    If the neighbour's dog doesn't go over the fence, I can count on hawks or cats to help them exercise. [​IMG]
  6. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Songster

    Apr 18, 2007
    I got tired of feeding all the foxes/dogs/coons/vultures/hawks/owls/coyotes/etc. I switched to a mobil coop (tractor) and haven't had any problems since.
  7. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
  8. Lunachick

    Lunachick Chicken Slave

    Mar 19, 2007
    Brick, NJ
    I only let mine out when I'm there to watch. But right now, because I got a new hen to get initiated into the flock, they are all penned in together until nicer weather. We have a hawk in the neighborhood, but my girls have access to their run or can take cover under the rhoddies or other shrubs.

    So far, I haven't seen any close encounters of the hawk kind. [​IMG]

    Just try it on a weekend when you can be there, and towards the evening when they can be herded back into the safety of their coop.
  9. Brian

    Brian Songster

    Sep 30, 2007
    Jacksonville, ORegon
    Quote:Yeah...I keep going back and forth on the topic. I think I'll just supervise.
  10. hypnofrogstevie

    hypnofrogstevie chick magnet

    Jul 12, 2007
    Newton NJ
    hey brian,

    I supervise mine when they free range. It also gives me time to play with them and watch them run around for bugs.

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