Want to let me out, but they keep going in the bush...


8 Years
Feb 20, 2011
Muskoka Region Ontario
I coop my 11 hens at night (they go in the coop on their own) In the day they have a fenced in run, well over 100 square feet...which they have scratched to death...

here is the layout of my land. I live in Muskoka in Ontario Canada and I have 2 acres in the middle of over 40 acres of open fields and bush. Lots of foxes, dogs, and other wild animals in the bush.

I let my chickens out of the run so they can go get fresh grass etc...but the little stinkers head straight into the bush...it is very frustrating...because I don't want to worry about them...but I do.

I am expanding my coop and getting 13 more birds in July...and I am making a second run on the other side of the coop (which is 150square feet) so I can let the one side grow back and then just alternate them.

My girls went to a farm today with friends and they have 75 chickens and just let them wander all over...am I just too concerned?
Not at all. Letting chickens go where they want is great, they love it, and many people do this. But you will undoubtedly lose some, or more, to predators if you do. It is a personal choice.
ugh, yes I am torn...

I have a huge long waiting list for buyers of eggs, so I really can't afford to lose any, yet at the same time I want them to be super happy. I can look out any time of the day and see the foxes out in the field...they have a small den over one of the hills...they won't come near when we are out.

I think maybe once I have the second run built and I alternate that should make them happy...*I HOPE ANYWAY*...so tough

My chickens completely free range (no run right now, maybe someday) and they spend a lot of their day in the brush. We have a small wooded area right next to our house, and there is a lot of loose underbrush. It's not completely full, I can still see the chickens if I stand at the edge of it. I'm sure there are TONS of bugs in there for them to eat. Today a hawk or something flew over...I'm not sure what it was, I heard a noise but didn't see what it was...and one of my small chicks were left alone so it started squawking. I went over to see what was going on, and all of the rest of them were hiding under the bushes. I much rather have them forage in there than in the wide open yard. At least in the brush they have places to hide quickly, whereas if they were in the yard they would have to run to hide, and that's saying they even make it to cover. Every so often they come out and come back up by the house for feed that I scatter on the ground for them a couple times a day, or to look for bugs in the grass. Mine are 6/7 weeks old, btw. I don't really worry about them too much. There are still risks from predators even in a coop and run, and I think they are happier being able go where they want to.
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I let my 35 older birds (laying age) free range all day everyday and I have some 8 week old Delawares and Araucanas that I am debating about free ranging here in a month or 2. I had a run but I took it down because they never used it. It was 15x30 and when they scratched it down to dirt they lost interest in is so I let them free range. I let them out about 6-7am and I close the pop door around 8-9pm.


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