To free range or not to free range.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by eggselant, Jul 24, 2014.

  1. eggselant

    eggselant In the Brooder

    Jul 13, 2014
    I currently have a 8ft by 16ft run for my 7 chickens and they seem to be enjoying it just fine. I have about a half and acre of fenced in yard I would like to let them wander in but I have some concerns. The fence in the yard is only a 4ft chain linked fence. Their run is completely enclosed so I never clipped their wings. Is it a good idea to let them free range throughout the yard without clipping their wings first? My children and I are quite fond of our hens and would hate to have one fly over the fence and get lost. Most of them are pretty chubby and would probably not want to exert the energy to hop the fence, but like I said, I would hate to see that happen. On the other hand, I would like for them to have full wings just in case a predator comes by. That way they have a better chance of getting away. We spend a lot of time outside with them, and there are very few predators in our area, but anything can happen...
    Anyone have any input? Should I clip their wings just to be safe, or are chickens too lazy to run away?
  2. thomasboyle

    thomasboyle Songster

    Feb 28, 2013
    Northwest Hills of CT
    I let my chickens roam about the yard, and I have never had an issue with them flying over the fence. But other people have, so you will have to see. You may have a flyer or two that won't stay on the ground! In that case, clip one wing on that bird. My experience is that chickens do not wander very far from the coop. My ducks and guineas go all over our 14 acres, but the chickens generally stay within 100 feet of the coop. Of course, I am constantly rounding up my ducks and guineas each night, and the chickens are already in the coop waiting for me to shut the door!

    The biggest concern you should have is keeping predator away from your birds. A 4 foot chain link fence won't stop many predators, most will simply climb over, or just jump over. I have an electric net fence around my chicken yard, and so far that has kept all predators at bay. This is my 2nd year with the electric fence, and I have not lost any birds to predators.
  3. Hokum Coco

    Hokum Coco Crowing

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Brunswick,Canada

    My run is about 4 ft high. If you clip the feathers on one wing of each bird it will help.

    Make sure there is no blood in the shaft of the feather before you clip or your bird may bleed to death.

    On some birds you may even have to clip a few secondary flight feathers.

    One wing throws the bird off balance and is more effective than trimming equal amounts off both wings.
  4. chfite

    chfite Songster

    Jun 7, 2011
    Taylors, SC
    My chickens roam all over the 3/4 acre fenced area, but have not taken to leaving. The fence is 4 foot chain link.

  5. thekatbus

    thekatbus In the Brooder

    Please update and let us know what you did. I have 3 unclipped chickens and I have as of yet to let them out. My fence is the same as yours and so is my yard size, so it sounds like you're in a very similar situation. Let us know what happens and if you do clip the wings or not first! Good luck :)
  6. eggselant

    eggselant In the Brooder

    Jul 13, 2014
    I decided not to clip my hens wings because I don't have a rooster to protect them in case a predator gets into my yard. They have been wandering my yard for a month now and not a single one has make an attempt to fly over the fence to escape. I am really glad I decided to let them free range in my yards during the day. I also noticed a slight increase in egg production since I have been letting them out.

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