Why I’ll Never Free-Range My Chickens Again

Do you free-range your chickens?


  • Total voters
    69

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
348
161
East Tennessee
It’s been two years since the hawk attacks that decimated my small, free-ranging flock. I’ve finally just this month bought a new coop and restocked my flock.

I respect the right of all chicken-keepers to make their own decisions regarding free-ranging, but as for me, after what we went through, I will never again free range my hens. I have invested in a top-quality and large chicken tractor that keeps them as safe as they can be made safe while still allowing them access to fresh grass and bugs.
 
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thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
348
161
East Tennessee
This is also what I am debating about for my ducks. I am scared 1. that they won't come back. And 2. that they will get eaten.

We have two large ponds and I’d love to have ducks on them but I’m virtually certain that predators would get them. We have tons of hawks and owls in particular. I’m not sure how people raise free-range ducks safely.
 
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thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
348
161
East Tennessee
I agree. From the get go I knew I was not going to free range, so I built the run. We really can't say we are protecting them and free ranging in the same breath, when there is a 50/50 shot of a predator Attack. It's hard enough to keep them safe when it is secure.
I’ve never met a free-ranging chicken-keeper who doesn’t periodically lose chickens to predators.
 

ralleia

Songster
8 Years
Mar 22, 2011
477
38
151
Omaha, NE
We free-range part of the time on our eleven acres. Due to past experiences, we do supervised free-ranging, but of course there are lapses in supervision when someone goes inside for something, and we would lose a chicken periodically. Of course it is usually everyone's favorite bird, and my mom, daughter and I are angry and sad.

With us it was rarely hawks once we got the main run covered. We have a fair amount of tree and brush cover, and the chickens can also run underneath the coop, so our primary issue is the local fox looking for an easy meal.

My ultimate goal is to fence in a sufficiently large area that the chickens can essentially free-range while still being protected from fox attack. I'd also like to incorporate either a rotation with a planted garden in part of it, and/or the "chicken moat" concept where chickens patrol around the exterior of gardens.

The hens are just so happy running around doing chicken stuff, and it is such bliss to watch them doing their thing. I have studied chicken tractors in the past and at one point was almost convinced to get one, but number of chickens we like to maintain is more than can be supported unless we did multiples. And they just don't provide the same kind of openness.

So for the coming year I want to implement our big fenced garden & run ideas, complete with a brand new coop.
 

mixedbreeds

Crowing
Aug 10, 2016
1,331
2,152
266
Washington State, Coulee City
Of all things I had a Badger come into my barn and call it home. It dug holes everywhere and killed and ate my two broodys and there chicks I had at that time. It pulled them through a dog cage like a raccoon would, I wouldn’t have thought it could have got those awful claws through the cage but it did. Took me two weeks to get that thing out of there.
 

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
348
161
East Tennessee
Of all things I had a Badger come into my barn and call it home. It dug holes everywhere and killed and ate my two broodys and there chicks I had at that time. It pulled them through a dog cage like a raccoon would, I wouldn’t have thought it could have got those awful claws through the cage but it did. Took me two weeks to get that thing out of there.
I’m so sorry. That sounds awful. I need to do some research on badgers. I don’t even really know what they are.
 

thecreekhouse

Songster
Feb 26, 2015
306
348
161
East Tennessee
We free-range part of the time on our eleven acres. Due to past experiences, we do supervised free-ranging, but of course there are lapses in supervision when someone goes inside for something, and we would lose a chicken periodically. Of course it is usually everyone's favorite bird, and my mom, daughter and I are angry and sad.

With us it was rarely hawks once we got the main run covered. We have a fair amount of tree and brush cover, and the chickens can also run underneath the coop, so our primary issue is the local fox looking for an easy meal.

My ultimate goal is to fence in a sufficiently large area that the chickens can essentially free-range while still being protected from fox attack. I'd also like to incorporate either a rotation with a planted garden in part of it, and/or the "chicken moat" concept where chickens patrol around the exterior of gardens.

The hens are just so happy running around doing chicken stuff, and it is such bliss to watch them doing their thing. I have studied chicken tractors in the past and at one point was almost convinced to get one, but number of chickens we like to maintain is more than can be supported unless we did multiples. And they just don't provide the same kind of openness.

So for the coming year I want to implement our big fenced garden & run ideas, complete with a brand new coop.
I definitely miss seeing the hens free-ranging and foraging. But I just couldn’t take the losses anymore. You’re right about chicken tractors not housing that many chickens. Mine is advertised as being big enough for 6 but I’ve chosen to go with 4. If you do decide you’re interested in a tractor, google “Smoky Mountain Chicken Tractors.”
 

Compost King

Free Ranging
Apr 19, 2018
3,304
11,493
707
Salisbury, North Carolina
There are risks to free ranging, just like their are risks when I leave the house and drive in an automobile. Freedom can be dangerous but free chickens are happier. Although I pen up all the chickens I breed. When they are are pullets and cockerels or Hens that are not in the breeding rotation they get freedom. All Roosters are penned though because I do not want to risk a rooster attacking a little kid.
 

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