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Thread: Any tips on free ranging chickens?

  1. #1
    Woodsman
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    Default Any tips on free ranging chickens?

    I was supposed to get a chicken coop today, but had gotten myself distracted (no coop), now I have decided to build one.
    I want to free range my hens when they get big enough. I've gathered as much information as I could from different sources but still wonder if there is some old trick that might save me time and possibly a chicken.

    "Measure twice cut once" the same method goes into my planing. I'm probably over thinking it but am curious is anyone has any tips and experience. It would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by Chī; 03-07-2019 at 11:03 PM.


  2. #2

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    Are you asking about a mobile unit, or just the coop/nesting box structure?
    Large flock, or just 6-12 birds?
    Totally free range or fenced and closed in at night?
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    If you are really free ranging prepare for massive losses to the free ranging dog, raccoon and coyote populations.

    I know, you have never seen either of them in your area. Well you are about to be introduced as soon as you turn a hen out on her own. After a few weeks, when the critters locate them, you will lose one or two a day.

    That is one of the reasons that the definition of "free ranging" has been changed to birds kept in a mobile pen.

    The up side is that you get acquainted with your shotgun really well, since it is by your side constantly.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    I let my chickens out to free range during the day and then shut them in the coop at night. They return to the coop in late afternoon. They also lay most of their eggs in the coop.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  5. #5
    Woodsman
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    Not a mobile unit just a coop/nesting box, and only about 4 to 6 birds. I only plan on letting them free range during the day, almost mostly supervised(someone is always home), Also have a dog who loves small animals and will no doubt protect the chickens with his life, and will let the birds be. I know there are predators like coons ,coyote and fox, but I'm honestly more worried about the cats, but the dog keeps them away. I am going to attempt to train the chicken to gather when called, I heard it's not to hard but we'll see.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    I don't know if a single protective dog (are you sure about the protection) will keep all of the critters away from a potential dinner table. After all, everybody knows ........................ wait for it ............................. they taste just like chicken.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    yes, the right dog will. My Lyla dog protected our yard and everything in it. we never lost a chicken until after she died. She would sleep with the horses and cows. She was the only dog the horses would let near when they got their hoofs trimmed. She would go right under the horse and grab a piece of cut off hoof and the horse didn't even care. She was awesome.
    Last edited by randyt; 03-09-2019 at 05:23 PM.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  8. #8
    Woodsman
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    Sounds like she was a great companion. To answer your question yes I think my dog will hold the fort well. I had three people ask me to bring him boar hunting but I don't want to have to worry about someone shooting my dog lol. One time one of my parakeets died and he wouldn't let me take the body, we had to distract him because he gets so attached to any critter we get. I just hope the chickens feel mutual.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    our pitbull does not bother the chickens at all. The daughter lives next door and let some rabbits out to free roam, he won't bother them either, a coon, skunk or possum is dead in the yard. I feel sorry for those critters.
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  10. #10
    Woodsman
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    My bighead is a pit bull to, the biggest babies they are. He gets bossed around by my Jack Russell mix all the time. But chased off a black bear that startled us both on an early morning walk. The bear probably would have ran ether way but Diesel (my dog) was definitely in defense mode.

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    Senior Member nell67's Avatar
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    Your chickens will put themselves up at dusk because they have poor eyesight and prefer the safety of the coop overnight. When you build the coop and run (for those days when you won't be home to police your property from predators, dig a trench around the outside of the area, including the coop and bury hardware cloth, not chicken wire dent out away from the run, not in towards it and fasten the hardware cloth to the fence. should fox or skunk attempt to dig in, they will be met with the hardware cloth they can't dig under nor push into the pen. Continue the hardware cloth burial around the entire pen/coop.

    add wire over the run area as well to protect against owls and hawks. And consider an LGD addition to your canine security team, they are tough and loyal dogs.
    Soular powered by the son.

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    My chicken herding days are over. I do have one hen. She doesn't know she's a chicken. #1 son has chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. By far the biggest threat to his flock is hawks. I had chickens for about 12 years and never lost a one to hawks or owls. Coyotes and skunks were what kept me busy. He has no coyote or skunk problems but the hawks take about 2 per month, sometimes more. #3 son decided he wanted chickens. All was going well until the Great Dane puppy developed a taste for chicken, and that was that.

    Alan

  13. #13

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    My brother and his wife live on a small "ranch" near Edinburg TX. He raise chickens, geese, ducks, sheep and one goat. His biggest problem is with hawks and coyotes, also. He has elevated coops, pens with the aforementioned wire fabric buried, plus a couple small buildings that hold some cages. He still manages to lose a chicken or two per week.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I can't find my thread about the "Great Raccoon War of 2013"!!

    That series of battles resulted in my purchase of at least two new rifles and a Turkish main battle semi-auto shotgun, and their modification into an extremely efficient night fighting system including night vision, motion sensor activated chicken coop security and "in house" chicken coop intruder alarms!

    God that was a good summer!

    Not much sleep, but dead raccoons, possums and coyotes everywhere!
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Senior Member nell67's Avatar
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    Soular powered by the son.

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    Woodsman
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    Thanks for all the advice so far. You all got me paranoid a bit, maybe I'll keep the dog in with the chickens at night lol, chicken/ dog coop. But I won't really do that. I will definitely get hardware cloth if it will help with the safety of the chickens. Can I just attach directly to the bottom or should I bury it? I have done a fair amount of research about chickens, now I'm just worried about their safety, I also got motion sensor lights to put outside the coop to help scare predators away, plus I would see the light through my bedroom window. It's just weather it will wake me or not. Have only ever seen one fox, one bear, and a few skunks. Never any coyote but I'm worried they might attract some. Worst case I'll keep my cat inside at night(sorry buddy) and put some traps out if I need to for damage control.
    Last edited by Chī; 03-19-2019 at 01:35 PM.

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    Brer Fox: Why hello der Brer Bear! Did you hear bout dat new chicken rest-u-rant ole Chi put in over at his place?

    Brer Bear: Yes indeed I did Brer Fox, I was jess a-headen on over der tonight to see what was on da menu! Care to come along?

    Brer Fox: Don't mind ifen I do. I hear dey gots some big lights what makes it easier to see which one you wants!





    Alan

  18. #18
    Senior Member nell67's Avatar
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    Chi, regarding the hardware cloth, you need to bury it, with the bottom half (doesn't have to be deep) bent OUTWARD from the pen, and wire the half that is up against the pen to the fence or staple to the outside of the coop, so that predators can't or would have a much harder time pulling the hardware cloth away from the pen.

    Bending the hardware cloth away from the pen and burying it, will help reduce the number of times that a predator can dig under the pen, you can place stones or rock over top the buried hardware cloth as well.

    Will it stop every predator from getting into the pen? Probably not, but it will greatly reduce the number of predators that will access the pen by digging. I never lost a single chicken after I added the hardware cloth to my pen, but you will always have predators that are persistent and will find the one weak spot you didn't think about. snakes can get int he tiniest of places as can weasels and a coon will climb Mount Everest if it thinks it can find a way in through the roof.
    Soular powered by the son.

    Nell, MLT (ASCP)

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    See, i never even considered bears as a threat to chickens. Of course we don't have any bears here. From what I've read bears kinda get into stuff by tearing it apart. Maybe some kind of alarm or loud horn honking thing would keep them away.

    One of my buddies has bird dogs and he has a thing that when a dog barks, it turns on sprinklers. The dogs run in their kennels. After a while, when one barks the rest of them run in the kennel before the sprinkler starts. Then he found out that the labs were barking so the sprinkler would come on.... But maybe the same concept could be used to repel boarders at the chicken coops.



    Alan

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    You are not using this "problem" to its best advantage!

    This is your excuse to buy a new .300 Blackout AR platform complete with suppressor and night vision!

    You have to seize these chances when they arise.

    You are already dealing with keeping chickens which will cost more to feed than the value of their eggs so why not consider dropping another grand for a new shooter with all the trimmings so you can protect them?
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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