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#105760 - 09/12/12 09:50 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Norman]
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1283
Loc: Canada
Free range means they're free for every passing varmint too.

I live in a forested area, which means that predators get very close to my coop and birds since they do not have to leave cover to do so. THey feel quite secure lurking around, not exposed out in the open. If you free range in wooded area, be aware that you will have some losses. That's just the way it goes. Everyone loses chickens to predators of one kind or another. But heavy woods means bigger predators are more securely might have bigger problems.

My chicken yard is not made of chicken wire, but heavy gage fencing with chicken wire overhead. The bottom 18 inches of the pen is 2x6 boards, solid. This pen keeps out coyotes and raccoons sometimes. IT will not keep out bears. Bears pretty much destroy anything they decide to destroy.

What I'm trying to say is that free range or not, your birds are vulnerable and having them in bush makes them easier for some predators to get to. Lock them up at night and watch the sky. If you let them out one day and you hear/see hawks overhead the next day, do not let them out. Mine have about two days in a row outside the pen before flying hunters show up. Good luck!

#105849 - 09/18/12 06:41 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Uno]
Josh Offline

Registered: 05/10/12
Posts: 30
Loc: Buffalo, MO, USA
My suggestion would be to not free range but to build a large run & cover it with netting. Guard dogs work wonderfully in a free range situation but only if they are present and they generally require a lot of space (30-40 acres may not be enough for some) & if they get bored they tend to roam & aquire new territories leaving your flock unprotected. Not all do but a vast majority especially when they are young. & if you don't have any experience with the guard breeds they can be difficult to "train". They think diferently than most dogs.
I would cover the run to keep out the flying predators & remember that coons & opossums & such will climb over a fence. It would be ok to let the flock out of the run on the occasion that you are home & will be able to keep an eye on them

#105855 - 09/18/12 08:46 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Josh]
CJR Offline
Coop Master

Registered: 07/16/02
Posts: 8501
Loc: Montana
If you have no protection, you may be lucky for a long time, even if it is for a few years, (and you think it IS safe)the word about "free lunch" will reach predators--or a chance encounter, will start the losses. I have NO birds to feed to a predator! GOOD LUCK, CJR

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