Free ranging chickens?

AquaticQueen

I want to free range my chickens. Is there anything I should know? I know protection stuff from hawks, eagles, foxes, coyote, etc.
Thanks!
 

AquaCaitlin

Let them out once the sun is fully up, and put them away once the sun is almost down.
In my experience, letting them out too early puts them at risk of being taken by predators that might still be out and putting them away too early (before they start roosting for the night) increases your chances of accidentally missing one and it being stuck outside of the coop and taken.

Also, if you notice a decrease in the amount of eggs in the nesting boxes check around your yard, sometimes the hens will either be too lazy to return to the coop or decide a pile of leaves is a better spot.
 

AquaticQueen

Let them out once the sun is fully up, and put them away once the sun is almost down.
In my experience, letting them out too early puts them at risk of being taken by predators that might still be out and putting them away too early (before they start roosting for the night) increases your chances of accidentally missing one and it being stuck outside of the coop and taken.

Also, if you notice a decrease in the amount of eggs in the nesting boxes check around your yard, sometimes the hens will either be too lazy to return to the coop or decide a pile of leaves is a better spot.
Thanks! I plan on just starting with 6 or 7 hens and see how that goes. Would this plan work?
Let them out at about 8 am (or whenever the sun is fully up) monitor them throughout the day (I will set up a couple scarecrows as defense against flying predators) and lock them up at dusk? I'll do a head count every night before I lock up to make sure I didn't miss anyone.
 

AquaCaitlin

Thanks! I plan on just starting with 6 or 7 hens and see how that goes. Would this plan work?
Let the out at about 8 am (or whenever the sun is fully up) monitor them throughout the day (I will set up a couple scarecrows as defense against flying predators) and lock them up at dusk? I'll do a head count every night before I lock up to make sure I didn't miss anyone.
Sounds like a plan!

Free-ranging is great, you get much richer eggs.
I make my own ice cream and when I used to use store-bought eggs it would turn out white, but with my hen’s eggs it’s yellow. The yolks get so dark!
 

AquaticQueen

Anything else I should know? I am a COMPLETE beginner at this.
 

Hugooo

Following! We want to get two chickens in the summer - one for me and one for my brother! So this will be helpful for me as well.
 

AquaCaitlin

Anything else I should know? I am a COMPLETE beginner at this.
Hmm. Not that I can think of.
I would definitely do some research on what types of plants might be poisonous to chickens, and check your yard for them.
Some, like tulips, are known to be toxic but my chickens have never tried to eat them.

Also look into joining a chicken forum, like backyardchickens, when I was first getting into hen keeping that’s where I got a lot of good information

Another thing is that hens have no regard for pavement and will poop there if they deem it worthy. So watch your step!
 

ProudPapa

Anything else I should know? I am a COMPLETE beginner at this.
  1. You may already know this, but you can't depend on them finding enough to eat free-ranging. I've always kept the commercial laying pellets out free choice for them.
  2. They'll eat just about any plant material kitchen scraps, like vegetable peelings and stale bread.
  3. It probably won't be an issue, but if you notice the egg shells getting soft you can supplement their diet with crushed oyster shells (fed separately from the regular feed).
 

AquaticQueen

Hmm. Not that I can think of.
I would definitely do some research on what types of plants might be poisonous to chickens, and check your yard for them.
Some, like tulips, are known to be toxic but my chickens have never tried to eat them.

Also look into joining a chicken forum, like backyardchickens, when I was first getting into hen keeping that’s where I got a lot of good information

Another thing is that hens have no regard for pavement and will poop there if they deem it worthy. So watch your step!
I don't think my yard has any tulips. Actually, I haven't seen any tulips ever for about 5 years and that was in a park right by our old house. We moved away few years ago.
 

AquaticQueen

How far will a chicken wander from the coop? The forest is about 150-200 feet from the coop.
 

AquaCaitlin

How far will a chicken wander from the coop? The forest is about 150-200 feet from the coop.
Once they get used to free ranging they’ll wander pretty far. Mine once went in the neighbors yard, which is maybe 3 acres away.
 

AquaticQueen

Once they get used to free ranging they’ll wander pretty far. Mine once went in the neighbors yard, which is maybe 3 acres away.
There has be at least 1/2 a kilometre from my neighbors and about 1 kilometre to my other neighbors with pasture, fence, and woods between us.
 

AquaCaitlin

There has be at least 1/2 a kilometre from my neighbors and about 1 kilometre to my other neighbors with pasture, fence, and woods between us.
The chickens may go into the forest, mine enjoy scavenging under trees and leaves.
As long as the fences have chicken wire on them they shouldn’t be able to get through, unless if they’re fliers.
 

ProudPapa

How far will a chicken wander from the coop? The forest is about 150-200 feet from the coop.

I believe it depends on the breed.
 

AquaticQueen

I believe it depends on the breed.
I'd love to get Orpingtons but I probably won't be able to find them, so maybe leghorns.
 

AquaCaitlin

I'd love to get Orpingtons but I probably won't be able to find them, so maybe leghorns.
I’ve ordered my chicks (day olds) from Murray McMurray Hatchery. There’s always 1 or 2 that don’t make it through shipping but they often arrive in a timely manner. They have all assortments of breeds at good prices.

Leghorns love to explore and mine also like to flutter around. Orpingtons are a bit chiller.
 

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