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#103132 - 03/28/12 07:02 PM Can chickens free range in forested area?
cherylmagill Offline
New Egg

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 7
Loc: WA State
I live in WA State way out in the country in a forested area. We got a big 10 x 10 shed from Lowe's that is being set up in a couple of days that we are going to convert to a coop. We are getting our chicks from McMurray's in May and I wondered how old they need to be when we can safely put them in the coop.

Also we are surrounded by tall evergreens with deer, owl, eagle, hawks, racoons, coyotes, etc., all living on our property. Is it still possible that our chicks can free range at some point, or is that just asking for trouble? We live on close to 5 acres, but all of it is dense forest except for about an acre that our house is on.

Would appreciate any advice.

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#103135 - 03/28/12 10:07 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: cherylmagill]
Candycat Offline
New Egg

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 9
Loc: Oregon, USA
Things to consider w/fowl...is your property fenced so that a roaming dog is kept OUT/AWAY from your flock? If not, then you'd be wise to fence an area that's secure & then maybe let them free-range when you can be out w/them. Nothing worse than a dog getting into a flock...awful sight to see. Better to protect your investment at the "get-go!" If all of your flock is raised together, they will likely get along ok. Ducks & geese can be messy...you will learn this as you raise them as they splash water everywhere yet they like to be warm & cozy, too. smile Have fun w/them. They are such a joy to watch grow.

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#103136 - 03/28/12 10:13 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Candycat]
cherylmagill Offline
New Egg

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 7
Loc: WA State
Thank you so much for your answer! No property is not fenced--too many trees.

Hey, husband just came in the office and asked me to ask you why all the coops seem to be up off of the ground. Do you know?

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#103148 - 03/29/12 11:26 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: cherylmagill]
Candycat Offline
New Egg

Registered: 03/28/12
Posts: 9
Loc: Oregon, USA
I have my suspicions as to why but I don't know the factual reason. Here's what I suspect. It's drier off the ground and perhaps it's to keep predators from crawling/digging underneath to get to them. Someone w/more knowledge will likely respond to your husband's question. Mine live in one of those fiberglass greenhouses that sit on the ground and they've been fine in there for 2 years now. No one's burrowed under to get them and it's dry inside despite sitting on the ground. We keep some hay in the back for them to kick/scratch around in. They've made a few dustbeds in it, digging down into the dirt.

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#103170 - 03/30/12 03:05 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: cherylmagill]
Wieslaw Offline
Moderator
Classroom Professor

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 3807
Loc: Denmark
Quote:
why all the coops seem to be up off of the ground

Most probably to prevent rats from building nests under the floor.

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#103201 - 03/30/12 03:33 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Wieslaw]
Rog Offline
Ruler of the Roost

Registered: 07/17/02
Posts: 775
Loc: Missouri
Some with a small outdoor pen built on are up off the ground to simply add more area to the pen that the birds can have dirt or grass to use.
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#103522 - 04/25/12 07:10 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Rog]
Fowled Out Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 06/11/07
Posts: 227
Loc: Arkansas
Chicks need to be feathered out, usually six weeks, before they can take the cool night weather. If you put the chicks in the coop make sure you have a heat lamp for them to get under when it's too cold for them. What I learned was first week of age they need 95 degrees, 2nd week 90 degrees, 3rd week 85 degrees and so on til they are all feathered out.
I wouldn't suggest free ranging in your area if you are not fenced. Coyotes, hawks and all the rest of those predators you listed will pick those chickens off slowly but surely. I would make them an outside fenced run with maybe some type of netting to keep eagles and hawks out, and make sure you lock that coop up tight at night when they go to roost.
Otherwise, invest in a livestock guardian dog and train it properly. My pyrennes is four years old and once she was grown she has done a very good job at cutting my losses from free ranging. She even chased those flock killing neighbor dogs away.

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#104211 - 06/15/12 07:07 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: Fowled Out]
JoeG Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 155
Loc: NY
I built mine off the ground because I didn't want a run, so I figued if I could not let them free range for some reason they could still get out and have some space/fresh air.

If your property is all forest and there are a lot of preadtors I would be careful, you may be better off building a large secure run.

Mine free range and they go into the woods, we have all of the same Preadtors as you but around my house is open and they don't go to far into the woods just the edge.

I have two Rottweilers that do a good job of keeping unwanted guest from coming to close to my home. and they love my chickens.
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2BarredRocks 2PartridgeRocks
2Black Australorp.2Black SexLinks
8Easter Egg,5Ameraucanas
2SLW,2GLW
1White Leghorn,1Spec Sussex
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#104213 - 06/15/12 07:23 AM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: JoeG]
JoeG Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 11/16/11
Posts: 155
Loc: NY
Here is some pic's of my coop, there have been changes but you will see the raised part and how close it is to the woods.

http://www.the-coop.org/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=100120&page=1
_________________________
2Ameraucana Roo's
2BarredRocks 2PartridgeRocks
2Black Australorp.2Black SexLinks
8Easter Egg,5Ameraucanas
2SLW,2GLW
1White Leghorn,1Spec Sussex
2Guinea Royal Purples
2Peacocks India Blue/Blk Shoulder,1JadeSpalding PeaHen
2Royal Palm Turkeys
2Rottweilers

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#105642 - 09/02/12 04:31 PM Re: Can chickens free range in forested area? [Re: JoeG]
Norman Offline
New Egg

Registered: 09/02/12
Posts: 4
Loc: New Jersey, USA & Cebu City, P...
Yes you can free range them, the more free the better as it hardens them up as stags and young pullets. IMHO

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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 hidden...you 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!

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

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

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#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: 8499
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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