free-range chickens

krycek1984(6a/Cleveland)August 7, 2010

Hey all! I love this forum!

We don't have chickens yet, but both my partner and I were do you keep your chickens out of the roads? We have about 9-10 acres, mostly wooded, some pasture. But the house is only about 50 feet from the road, and wherever we'd keep the chickens (whenever we get them, could be a year, could be 10) would be a maximum of about 100-200 feet from a road.

My partner grew up in exurbia and there were a lot of amish out there. He said that he used to see chickens all the time eating bugs out of the ditches but they'd never go onto the roads. Is this true?

Or would we need to get some sort of fencing? We just want like 6 chickens and I want to let them roam as much as possible.

They will have to go in their coup at night though because we do have coyotes.

Any thoughts? I'm so curious about it!!!!!! How do you keep chickens in the area they are supposed to be?!?

Also, we will probably get an outdoor cat if I start a little homestead to eat mice,voles, etc. and such. Will they kill the chickens? What are your experiences on that?

This is all so interesting!

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keep the food and water away from the road. I had lots of chickens less than 100 feet from the busy highway and they never went near the road. The geese went by the road. the ducks stayed away. Turkeys stayed away. I had 100 chickens and they stayed away from the road.

If you try to fence them in they will simply fly over the fence. so dont waste your money unless you have a cover over the top.

Chickens are actually pretty clean outdoors. Geese are dirty and really need a pond. But they will pollute the pond quickly.

Just make sure you lock up the chickens toward evening every night. They will automatically go inside before dark. You must lock the door tight.

Ducks and geese will not go into safety at night. Well not automatically anyway. Unfortunately they get killed when they are sitting on eggs at night. They will refuse to leave the eggs and that is the end of them. heartbreaking. Chickens are the best.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2010 at 11:05PM
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Here is my limited experience, for what it is worth. I live on 10 acres, mostly pasture with a few small stands of trees. When I let my chickens out, they never go for the road, for some reason:) They scratch everywhere and sometimes get into the garage (cat food) or garden (holes in tomatoes) but otherwise they keep things cleaned up very nicely. That being said.....

I was very enthralled by the idea of free range chickens until I lost quite a few. Hawks, coyotes, neighbor dogs have all had their hand in that. I don't let them out anymore unless I'm going to be here and generally outside. They have a fairly big run to explore otherwise so they aren't hurting for entertainment;) It isn't covered so hawks are still a concern but I haven't had any this year. The birds will go back into their coop at night and as the other poster stated, you do have to close a door on them to keep night predators from getting in. Chickens roost at night and are sorta dumb-founded so they are easy pickins for a coon or anything else while sleeping.

I've not had any problems with my MANY cats and the chickens. The cats seem to know which birds are prey and which are our family. Of course, when the chickens mature and get big, I would like to see a cat attempt to bring one down, LOL!!! If anything, I worry that the chickens will peck a cat on the head too hard :) Good luck with your endeavor, hope you get a few chickens! Lori

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:34PM
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We have about an acre of pasture that is surounded on three sides by forest and a small pond, and then the 4th side is an opening with a few trees that goes up to our house (the pasture/field is within view of the house. We have coyotes, racoons, and hawks/buzzards, so it is a concern. I'm mostly concerned about the hawks, we have quite a few that circle around because there is a big radio tower that they apparently have an affinity for!

When the time comes to get the chickens I will have to figure out how to do it and what will be best for the chickens. I would like to let them free range around the pasture and all, but I don't know how they will do with the predators.

Do chickens go into the forest? I wonder if they will get ticks. I can't see them going into the forest but I suppose they could! Do they usually find their way home? I don't want to go searching in the woods for a hen!

I could always build a screened enclosure for them and then let them out while I'm gardening/around the house or on the deck, etc. I just don't know. We will have to see!

I mostly just want to keep them for eggs so there won't be any roosters. I'll just have six or so, so not a big amount. I don't want too many because I will still be working and I don't want to have to quite my day job to take care of 30 hens!

We shall see. I'm sure when I"m ready to get them I'll be on here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 3:47PM
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Chickens will go anywhere that they can scratch and get food. Meaning, bugs, fruits/veggies, nuts, weeds, etc. I would recommend a screened enclosure since you only want 6 or so. That way you can at least pen them up when you need to. You can always let them out and see for yourself what dangers there are. You can let them out when you are at home and keep them contained when you aren't. Too bad you aren't closer, I have some really cute kittens that would love to keep your chickens company;) Lori

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 4:12PM
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