To free range or not?

Beaglegal

Songster
Sep 8, 2019
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3 weeks ago my husband and I bought our dream farm in Western Washington. It’s 4.3 acres of mixed pasture and wooded areas with dense undergrowth. We also got a flock of 20+ free range mixed breed chickens and 6 ducks, that belonged to the previous owners. My problem is that in the 3 weeks since we have been here I have had 20 chicks and 2 ducks hatched in illicit hidden nests, basically doubling my flock size. I like the idea of free range chickens but I don’t like the idea of them constantly breeding out of control. Even if we got rid of our roosters, there are always neighborhood roosters passing through. I think the only way to curtail the population explosions is to start clipping their wings so they can’t lay any more hidden nests, but then they will lose the benefits of free ranging... I’m torn.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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3 weeks ago my husband and I bought our dream farm in Western Washington. It’s 4.3 acres of mixed pasture and wooded areas with dense undergrowth. We also got a flock of 20+ free range mixed breed chickens and 6 ducks, that belonged to the previous owners. My problem is that in the 3 weeks since we have been here I have had 20 chicks and 2 ducks hatched in illicit hidden nests, basically doubling my flock size. I like the idea of free range chickens but I don’t like the idea of them constantly breeding out of control. Even if we got rid of our roosters, there are always neighborhood roosters passing through. I think the only way to curtail the population explosions is to start clipping their wings so they can’t lay any more hidden nests, but then they will lose the benefits of free ranging... I’m torn.
Free ranging doesn't really have anything to do with a population explosion.
The hens hiding nests then going broody and setting are the problem.
If you want to continue free ranging you will have to be diligent about collecting all the eggs and accounting for all flock members at nightly lock up.
 

Beaglegal

Songster
Sep 8, 2019
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Western Washington
Free ranging doesn't really have anything to do with a population explosion.
The hens hiding nests then going broody and setting are the problem.
If you want to continue free ranging you will have to be diligent about collecting all the eggs and accounting for all flock members at nightly lock up.
 

DobieLover

Easily distracted by chickens
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Jul 23, 2018
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The problem is that they are laying in the wooded areas with heavy undergrowth. If they lay in there, it’s not possible for me to see the eggs
You'll have to confine them to a coop and run for a while until they establish new habits of laying in the nest boxes you provide.
 

Shadrach

Roosterist
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Jul 31, 2018
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Catalonia, Spain
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3 weeks ago my husband and I bought our dream farm in Western Washington. It’s 4.3 acres of mixed pasture and wooded areas with dense undergrowth. We also got a flock of 20+ free range mixed breed chickens and 6 ducks, that belonged to the previous owners. My problem is that in the 3 weeks since we have been here I have had 20 chicks and 2 ducks hatched in illicit hidden nests, basically doubling my flock size. I like the idea of free range chickens but I don’t like the idea of them constantly breeding out of control. Even if we got rid of our roosters, there are always neighborhood roosters passing through. I think the only way to curtail the population explosions is to start clipping their wings so they can’t lay any more hidden nests, but then they will lose the benefits of free ranging... I’m torn.
This may or may not be acceptable to you but what I've found is predation will help manage the population. Three weeks isn't very long to make assessments regarding flock keeping arrangements.
Once you've been there a while and observed your chickens you will get to know the type of environment they prefer as nest sites. Even if persuade the majority that nest boxes in coops are where they should lay there eggs, some will if free ranging nest outside.
Don't wing clip is my advice. It doesn't really work. At best it may deter a chicken from attempting to fly over a fence and at worst, turn your chickens into predator bait.
 

Trevorusn

Crowing
Apr 15, 2019
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New Hampshire
Free ranging is great, but losing chickens and eggs is not. Lots of broody hens who wandered off became fox feed this year, seems to be the trend nationally. So, fencing in a large area may be your best compromise.
 

MANNA-PRO

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