Would love to let my chikens free range, but....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Hopefulloflove, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Hopefulloflove

    Hopefulloflove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2011
    Benson, NC
    I am terrified to do it. We have chicken hawks and I am scared to lose one that way. Also we do have a dog. She stays out back on her chain..I would be afraid they would get too close..they do have a nice coop that they have been kept in since they were babies, and they always put themselves to bed by dark, so I know they would go in when it's time and they can be shut in for night time like they are now..I am just sooo scared...We have neighbors down the road that thier chickens are out all the time..so why am I so afraid? lol...what do you all think?
  2. audrey02026

    audrey02026 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2011
    Dedham, Ma
    Maybe you could try slowly like only when you are home for an hour or two before they roost. I let mine free range almost all the time. I came home yesterday and my kids were screaming that there was a hawk and sure enough it was on a pole in my yard looking at my chcikens. They were all hiding some in the dog house, some inbetween the coops and some went back in the coop. They do know how to get out of danger but if you free range there is always a chance you may loose some. I have lost three to dog attack and I think I hawk got one that was sick (she had impacted crop and could barely get out of her own way). I found her on the street dead a long way from my house...
  3. GardenState38

    GardenState38 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2011
    Your neighbors may have a different attitude toward their chickens, and not liable to be upset if one gets picked off by a hawk. It sounds like you're very attached to your flock and losing even one would upset you.
    I choose to keep my hens contained in a covered run (which I'm expanding this spring.) I live in a suburban/practically urban neighborhood, but we do have hawks who hang out in a nearby tree from time to time. I've seen them swoop down and carry off doves from my feeder a number of times. So, no way am I giving them access to my beloved girls, especially my banty, who's the size of a dove!
    While free-ranging may be the best life for a chicken, I try my best to replicate it with various treats and greens, and I even catch and buy insects and mealworms for them.
    My girls probably have as rich a diet as a free-ranging flock would in many other parts of the country.
    Confinement is the only life my girls know. Are they complaining about it? I think they're relatively happy--they lay every day, have bright, shiny feathers, and have great dispositions.
    I believe only we humans have the ability to bemoan our lot and yearn for a better situation in life. And are we better off for it? [​IMG]
  4. Hopefulloflove

    Hopefulloflove Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 18, 2011
    Benson, NC
    Thank you both...I think I will continue on keeping them confined. I can't handle losing them. I lost one last week quite mysterliously and cried myself to sleep that night. My girls also get lots of treats and greens...i haven't figured out the insect part yet...where can I get them from. They are too expensive at tractor supply...anyways, thanks again! :)
  5. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    Honestly, the most likely predator you would lose them to is your own dog. Most dogs don't intend on killing them, but "play" with them until they die.

    I free range mine on a fairly regular basis, but only when I am home. We have a number of wildlife predators here and have had issues in the past with bobcats and foxes. My runs are excessively large - one is 50ft X 80ft and the other is 30ft X 50ft. I like my birds to have a lot of space, and we are on 5 acres, so I have the room.
  6. CSWolffe

    CSWolffe Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City
    I live in a nice little neighborhood in the middle of the city. We do get some hawks and owls, but nothing large enough to take on a grown chicken. No raccoons, coyotes, or foxes. Stray dogs are the worst we have to deal with, and my yard is pretty secure. So I let my girls out. But I don't like how damaging they are to my yard, so they only get a few hours each evening. Let yours out for about two hours before sunset so they get some free range time, but won't be out too long.
    There is always a risk when you let your girls out of the covered pen, but I think that risk is just part of keeping chickens. They are not house pets, they live outside in the coop, and are exposed to different kinds of risks. It sucks to think about losing one of your girls, but it happens. I say, take the risk, they will be happier in the end, even considering the chance of losing one to a hawk.

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