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Your Opinion Please - kind of long post

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by dogzrule5, Jul 28, 2008.

  1. dogzrule5

    dogzrule5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2008
    Sanford, NC
    Hi All,

    Until last fall, all my hens and roosters were allowed to free range. I just opened the barn in the morning and closed it at night. Generally, I had no problems and everything was fine. After I lost several of my hens, I began keeping them in an enclosure and only allowed the roosters to free range. I'm not sure why the hens died, there was no apparent reason and I thought it was either from heat or something. Since I only had/have three laying hens left, I've begun taking extra precautions for them. They have a separate space in the barn with a small door which allows them to go out into an 8 x 8 dog kennel, which is covered with wire to keep them in and the roosters out.

    Since making this change, and especially after becoming a BYC member, I've spent a fair amount of money making improvements, etc. Now in addition to my three adult laying hens, I have three poults that will soon be old enough to be integrated with them, as well as three additional poults (totally untamed) which I inherited from a friend, that will also join the flock. This will make a grand total of nine hens and all that I want.

    I have four grown roosters, the smallest stays with the girls. The other three currently free range and I have this new little RIR (obnoxious already) that will eventually join the grown boys. I have too many roosters but don't have any plans on taking them on a long walk.

    I've spent more money the last three months on h/w cloth and other things to safeguard the chickens and have other things that have absolutely got to be taken care of around the house and yard.

    My question is this...I need to enlarge the space for the hens, as it just isn't large enough to accomodate nine hens plus one small rooster. So, what are your thoughts on me allowing the hens to free range, and keep the boys in the smaller space? As I said, I've never had a problem with predators until last fall when I lost three hens at night from the barn (which made me put up the h/w cloth all over the place).

    I think the hens would be much happier having a very large fenced in space to chase bugs and run away from Woodstock (the small rooster). I know the big guys will be unhappy but it would save me quite a bit of money, and frankly I'm getting tired of spending what little money is left after paying bills on them. [​IMG]

    Thanks for your opinion.
     
  2. HorseFeathers

    HorseFeathers Frazzled

    Apr 2, 2008
    Southern Maine
    What do you feel is right? Weigh the threat of predators vs. your chickens' happiness.

    We live in a really tight neighborhood (our lot is 0.13 acres) so we sort of can't let our hens free range too much. They have a largish run and we let them roam around the backyard to fulfill their little chickeny needs, but when we leave the house we put them back in the run.

    I think it's really your choice. It seems like keeping a bunch of hens and a roo in an enclosure all the time may be a tad stressfull, but I'm no expert.
     
  3. dogzrule5

    dogzrule5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 14, 2008
    Sanford, NC
    That's what I was thinking too. I think I'll probably switch everybody around - maybe tonight.

    One thing that's happened to me going onto this site is that not only have I learned a lot of valuable information, I've maybe gotten a little too concerned about some things that I don't need to be.

    Thanks for your opinion [​IMG]
     
  4. arlee453

    arlee453 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 13, 2007
    near Charlotte NC
    If you are willing to risk the losses - and only YOU know the true risks - what preds are out there, etc, then switch them around.

    I would make the suggestion to let one of your roosters at least go out with the girls. Roosters can be good early warning systems and also will sometimes sacrifice themselves to allow the girls to get to a safe hiding place if a pred appears.

    Frankly, after reading all the 'my pen got broken into by XYZ pred' posts here, it seem that the only difference between keeping them cooped and letting them free range for daytime is that if they are free ranging they at least more room to run and try to escape, and more trees/bushes, etc for hiding places. EVEN with a run that is Ft Knox.

    Now, at night time, that's another story - since they are basically blind at night, they need to be locked up tight.
     
  5. KrisRose

    KrisRose Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2007
    Davison, MI.
    I have a secure chicken run (10x32) which my flock is in when neither myself or my neighbor Chickflick is home. When someone is home then they are let out into their chickenyard (about 200x60), this has a 4 ft high fence around it with lots of bushes in one end. This has worked great for me. Not pred proof by any means but people are out and dawg is loose.
    Sorry. Don't have a solution for your extra roos.
     
  6. dogzrule5

    dogzrule5 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    139
    Apr 14, 2008
    Sanford, NC
    I plan to continue letting Woodstock stay with the girls. He's small and is the gentlest rooster I have. And my Hansel and Gretel are great at telling me if anything is near.

    That's a very good point about even a secure pen getting broken into. And I know there is always a risk, but I've had minimal problems in the past.

    My small pasture has 5 ft. welded wire fencing with some trees, plenty of shade and lots of bugs hopping around.

    I'll feel bad for the roosters being cooped up. I've left them out at night several times wishing them the best and almost hoping to lose a couple but they're still with me. They tend to go up in the honeysuckle on top of the fence at night.

    I'll defintely put the girls and Woodstock, along with Hansel and Gretel, in the barn at night.
     

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