Wild range vs. Coop Run


10 Years
Sep 30, 2009
Hi there! Was wondering if anyone could help me with some info. I am about to build my first coop, and am confused about a few things.
1. Can you let chickens have free range (I have about an acre) and expect them to return to the roost each evening?
2. Have raccoons (lots) in my area...can free range chickens escape them?
3. what supplemental feed do they need if they are foraging all day??
thanks for any help and wish me luck...I am chicken excited!!
dr. kim


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
Bucyrus Ks
I currenlty live on 5 acres and I let mine free range all the time. When I first got the chickens I left them locked up in the coop and run for about a week so they would get used to it. Then I started to let them out for a few hours in the evening. Once I noticed that they would go back into the coop to roost at night I was able to let them free range all the time. They go back to the coop to lay and to roost at night.

Racoons seem to be more agressive at night. I would worry about them trying to get into the coop at night while roosting and attack your chickens. Make your coop predator proof as much as possible.

I still feed mine Purina layena to help with egg production.


Free Ranging
15 Years
Feb 14, 2008
This world is not my home.
Ditto. I actually think birds are less prone to raccoon predation while free ranging in the day. This is the time for hawks, dogs, and foxes to be out hunting. They can outrun a coon.

You might also add a LGD to the mix to help deter all kinds of predators in the day or the night.


10 Years
Sep 30, 2009
Thanks for your help....just a little "getting used to the house" kinda thing and then cut 'em loose!!! Cool!!
We definitely have hawks, but there is tons of underbrush for them to hide out in and get away....will keep the coop very predator proof!!


The Crazy Chicken Lady
Apr 22, 2008
upstate SC
I have a farm that has multiple tractors on it. In my front pasture alone I have 3 M*A*S*H units. They are 10x10x6. For more info you can see my BYC page.
I let my flocks out during the day with the roo staying up in each during breeding season. If I am not setting eggs then I may let a roo come out with the hens on different days but often my flock roo from the very back pasture will come up and pick a fight.
I have about 6-7 hens and a roo in each tractor.
I have 2 coops down at my barn that are 10x14 and they have about 50-60 hens in each and some young roos. They all go to bed at night, I close and bolt the doors and let them out at dawn each morning to free range.

Come twilight all my chickens will want to go to bed, they are not nocturnal and will always go back to their own roost and I often feed about this time anyhow.
I feed whole grains and keep a pan in their pens that I fill for their crop filling before bed and some early snacks before getting out to free range during the day. I feed them only what they clean up and if they are leaving some then I cut back. If it is all gone then I give them aprox. 1/2 cup per bird. It really varies day to day as what they find to eat out grazing.

Raccoons only come around here at night and a nice livestock guardian dog can help or plenty of trees and bushes for escaping if they come while the girls are out. Hawks are are biggest threat.


10 Years
Jun 12, 2009
Northern Colorado
In order for your chickens to be healthy and to get a balanced diet, you really should provide free choice of a well formulated layer feed. Lay mash/pellets/crumbles is a formulated ration that provides the chickens with all the nutrition that the birds will need to sustain their systems and produce eggs.

At least, this is what I have gathered from BYC. My chickens are confined to a coop/run most of the time and are let out to forage in their 'chicken yard' and some in our back yard in the evenings and on weekends. Most of their diet consists of lay mash and we've been getting good egg production and have seemingly healthy birds.


11 Years
Mar 29, 2009
We let our three hens out when we are home in the middle of the day, well away from the times of dawn and dusk. They are usually out for 30 minutes to two hours each day. We have a fully fenced acre in the suburbs with lots of trees and shrubs, yet after reading the predator posts I worry often about hawks and raccoons. We have tons of raccoons, and see them all the time, and hawks don't seem to need as much space to make a dive as I used to think. It doesn't help that my large dog is afraid of the chickens (???) and won't be in the yard when they are out to help protect them, nor can we have a rooster to serve a similar purpose.

Our three chickens are such special little pets, it may be that we are a bit overly cautious (my friend up the way says she "buys extra" chicks each year to account for the approximately 1/3 they lose to predation each year).

I'm betting you're a vet, I am too, but all I do with birds is injury repair!



10 Years
Aug 19, 2009
Central VA
I live on 2 acres in the burbs. I don't let my chickens free range b/c they're silkies & can't fly up very high. We've had a stray dog show up & a mangy (meaning patches of fur missing) coyote swing by. Since the coyote visit, we've gotten a medium-sized dog & his markings tend to keep these unwelcome visitors away.

But, my friend who has Orpingtons lets hers free range & she introduced hers like TheChad did. Her Orpingtons are fast enough to escape the stray dogs & feral cats around her house. Her supplemental feedings consist of her Orps going into the compost pile!

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