Unattended Free Range

Discussion in 'Predators and Pests' started by sgrzybin, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. sgrzybin

    sgrzybin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2015
    I have 19 hens and 2 roos. I work all week so I currently only let the chicks out on the weekends. I live somewhat secluded on 5 acres with on kind of close neighbor that has a dog. I want to let them out every day so that they get more of a natural diet instead of the non GMO grain that I throw out every night once they have gone in to roost. I need input and thoughts on whether or not the two roos will be able to protect the flock.
  2. sourland

    sourland Broody Magician Premium Member

    May 3, 2009
    New Jersey
    The two roosters will serve as a warning system and may ward off smaller hawks, but they will not be able to protect the flock against fox, dogs, bobcats, or coyotes.
  3. Howard E

    Howard E Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 18, 2016
    My guess is if you just left them out to free range all day while you are at work, we would be hearing back from you saying how some predator killed all your birds. There are a lot of predators and they are everywhere and it seems they all like to kill chickens.

    If free ranging is your goal, your best bet is to establish a safe zone perimeter with an electric fence. If the area is large enough, birds will stay in and if it is constructed properly, most land based varmints will stay out. After that, biggest threats are large birds of prey. With roosters on watch and adequate cover, that threat is minimized.
  4. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    I've never had a rooster protect the flock from anything - great alarm callers, yes (maybe mine have all been useless - who knows?). Just to add that providing bushy vegetation provides increased safety from hawks, so if you can plant them around your planned free-range area, it should help a little (not to mention providing a source of refuge when the weather turns nasty).
  5. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
  6. SleepyHollowFnF

    SleepyHollowFnF Out Of The Brooder

    We did free ranging in our forest with our 6 silkies and 4 red sex links every day for many months until something snatched my girlfriends favorite silkie, a club footed but sweet hen named OhNo. Since then, the silkies have a brand new and quite luxurious run and coop, and the big hens have 4 more sisters and a roo to give them a little safety in numbers (who knows if that helps) We have never lost any of our big chickens to predators, and our rooster instead of protecting likes to wander off for hours at a time. When construction slows down on our house and we can be there more, we intend to keep a closer eye on them with our Mosin. I don't want to have to hurt any of our furry neighbors, but I have no issue with scaring the daylights out of them. Depending on your situation, it might not be an issue, but its really best to not leave them unattended. My neighbor has done so for years. He's lost a hen or two but life in the forest can be like that sometimes.

    Good Luck
  7. SueT

    SueT Overrun With Chickens

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    We free ranged for a year with no problems, then lost a hen to a coyote in our yard --while we were in the house. We enlarged the run and now they are confined for the rest of their lives.
    The electric fence may be a good alternative --I have a friend in VA who uses the electric poultry netting, has for years without problems. She moves it to fresh ground every week or two so the hens always have pasture.
  8. kris13

    kris13 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 10, 2016
    I'd say a little depends on how you'd take a loss. We're moving from free range to electrified big run away after last night's loss of one chicken. One kid didn't handle it well at all and I just don't want that again for her. Esp. after my husband went to Rural King to get some raccoon traps, and the lady there said they had a raccoon kill a chicken while they were thirty or so feet away cleaning out the coop.
  9. Lelilamom

    Lelilamom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 28, 2013
    We have a 150 X 150ft 5ft high fence that is also buried into the ground around our girls (and boy) and we've lost just as many of them inside the fence as when we free ranged without fencing.

    Then we got 40 x 40 ft electric fencing for our broilers. We didn't have any predator attacks on those, but we only had them for 8 weeks.

    Unattended vs attended means little to be honest. We had a fox take a chicken 40 ft from my husband laying concrete, during daylight hours - and it sat and ate it 20 ft from where it took it! Your best bet is a well-secured, fully enclosed coop and run. Your chickens (and your pocketbook) will hate it, but your chickens will be alive.

    Good Luck

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