To free range or not?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by NewChic13, Aug 9, 2011.

  1. NewChic13

    NewChic13 Out Of The Brooder

    May 7, 2011
    S. Lake Tahoe
    I know lots of people free range, but I'm to nervous to let the girls out. What about neighborhood dogs and cats? Or my own dogs and cats for that matter? Is it a bad idea if you don't have a fenced yard? Our neighbors aren't super close, but there are a few roaming dogs. And the street is semi close to the yard. We also have bears, bobcats, raccoons and coyotes. They have a fenced in run right now, but I wonder if I'm being over paranoid or not? Should I just let them roam? Also, the lawn was fertalized a few time early this summer, so that would be bad for them right?
  2. kidcody

    kidcody Overrun With Chickens

    Chickens like to roam so you have to be prepared for all types of predators. It wouldn't take long before the neighbors dogs and cats figured out your chickens are roaming free. I have a friend that is able to let a few chickens out in her back yard but she is always standing guard with a big stick. So far she has been lucky! It would be much safer to fence off a section or make a portable cage that you could move around in [​IMG]
  3. AZBootsie

    AZBootsie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 10, 2010
    Congress, AZ
    My Coop
    I wish mine could free range. But like you, there are just to many predators around here. So they have a coop and run.
  4. Gullygarden

    Gullygarden Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 2, 2011
    I have lost several hens and a much loved pet rooster to local dogs when I was free ranging them. now I have an electric mesh run that is pretty big. so far so good - no losses since 2009! pic on my byc page just shows one corner.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  5. Achickenwrangler#1

    Achickenwrangler#1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 7, 2011
    west virginia
    Cats aren't usually much problem for big chickens, but dogs will think this is a sporting event and kill them. I worried some about my chickens being out during the day at first, but they are too big for the hawks during the day and they stay under cover mostly. At night, different story. If you have a nice size run I think they would be happiest there and safe. You could also have 2 runs, let one rest and regrow grass and clover and such and rotate them from one to the other, the best of both worlds.
    Another thought, if your chickens got in the road and caused an accident, would you be held liable? [​IMG]
  6. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Free ranging is definitely risky business. I let mine free range for just part of the day. I live in the country, and I can see my neighbors, but we have a woods surrounding the yard, so they're far enough away for privacy. And the main road is pretty far away.

    I seem to lose about one chicken a year to an unseen predator, which I suspect to be a hawk. I do see them circling sometimes. They tend to fly over in the morning, early afternoon hours, so I will keep them locked in their chicken run (covered run) until I get home at 5pm.

    One time this year, and it's the third year I've kept chickens, the neighbor's dog came into my BACK YARD (which made me really mad) and grabbed a hen. I rescued her though. WHEW!

    They do love to free range, and one of the bonuses is, they eat less layer feed in the summer time. I like to see them happy, and I think their egg yolks get nice and orange! Very pretty!

    But I think your chickens can be happy in their run, and you can keep things interesting for them with treats, and different things, like maybe some natural branches for them to roost on. As long as the run is big enough. That is the main thing....They can't be crowded.

    It's all up to you, a personal choice I think!

    Hope this helps!
  7. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 27, 2010
    It is a personal choice, seeing as you have neighbor hood cats and dogs, cats are not usually an issue with a full grown chicken, they are afraid of the feet and beaks!
    I have hawks, coyote, fox, eagles far so good. I have over 300 acres for them to range, they stay pretty close to the coop and barns...the roosters are GREAT in
    warning the girls of potential danger also...glad I have them now...although I doubt the dreaded sparrow can create damage, they still give the warning call for them as well!

    Try fencing off a small area, if you can, and stand guard if leery of dogs etc...
  8. Mrs.Carron

    Mrs.Carron Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 27, 2011
    My chickens free range and I love it. However, if I had your situation I wouldn't free range all day like I do in my yard. My yard is very small I have a six foot privacy fence and I live in the middle of a subdivision. A large run would be the best for you. You want to keep them safe and they have alot of preditors. I hear about dog attacks all the time. As long as they are not cooped up in a tiny box unable to move, they will be happy with what you can provide for them. Eating grass and bugs in a large run is basically free ranging for you:) Don't worry about the term "free-range" be encouraged, you are already giving them what they need, love and care! Oh, about the fertilized yard, they will probably be okay, but if you can get away with not fertilizing their area that would be best. I do not use herbicides either in my backyard, just to be safe. Your dogs are just that... dogs. They will do what dogs do, just watch them. I noticed my little dog got a 'little fiesty' when one of my pullets tried to eat some of the food she was munching on. Sometimes she'll take off running and barking and nearly run one of my pullets over trying to get to the fence. You can't stop everything from happening but as long as you do your best at the end of the day it was all worth it. Take care!
  9. wowmanacat

    wowmanacat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2011
    Oak Grove AR
    i let my free range when I am home which is most of the time. I have coon, bobcats, and many others predators around here. My cats are out most of the day with the chickens and they don't bother them at all. I let my dog run free with me out with me and she don't bother them but that is not to say she don't chase at times. My chickens stay close to the house most of the day but at times they do try to go into the woods behind there coop.
  10. RedDrgn

    RedDrgn Anachronistic Anomaly

    May 11, 2011
    West Virginia
    My Coop
    I am in an area that sounds pretty much like yours when it comes to hazards. We keep our chickens in a secure run all day and lock them in the coop (inside of the run) though the night. Our chickens are only five weeks old, so while we're going to wait awhile, we will free range them under our supervision (e.g. when we're out doing yard work or something like that) in the future. It still opens them up to a higher potential for predation, but I think it'd be better than letting them roam all of the time.

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