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Should Chickens Roam Free Or Be Penned Up?

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Just read the newsletter on chickens. Very interesting I might add but my question is: did these ladies let their chickens roam the yard or did they have them penned up? I live in the country and thought I may get a few for eggs. Plus you could eat the chickens too. Thanks in advance.

Alice

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Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Carolyn Ballew07/12/2011

I have chickens that have a covered pen that they go into at nite. Skunks are our problem. Daytime our older chickens get to roam another part of the enclosed fenced in yard but not covered. Then another section is for our garden that is enclosed also separately. If you keep their wings clipped they can't fly into the garden. I grow more then what we eat so the chickens can have it. Plus when we're finished with the garden then they can have at it. They love it, and so do we. No more weeds to pull, besides that they fertilizer it also for next summer.

By Lisa [2]10/26/2010

We have a smallish back garden (70' x 35') and our four girls have a shed, a covered area and a fenced in area across the width at the bottom of it. I like them free in the garden, but they do leave a lot of poop - particularly near the back door, where they like to congregate for treats!

By Annie Rios Hill [12]04/05/2008

My aunt kept hers up in airy cages that were always kept tidy as chickens on the loose eat the poop they make. They scratch the ground. Another aunt kept the running loose and they had quite a lot of space.

By (Guest Post)04/04/2008

I have had Chickens all my life, Every kind you can imagine.

I Grew up in the country, and have lived in the country my entire life, I have always let my Chickens Run from Sunup to Sundown. Yes hawks can be a problem, But thats mostly for smaller birds like bantums or young chickens, When i was 16 I lost count of my hens, last count had been over 1000, They roamed free everyday, I only recall ever loosing 2 to hawks and a mother with a newly hatched litter, all were Bantums,{small} Most varmints hunt chicken in the night, or evenings, So that is the most crucial time to have them closed in and secured.

In the Early spring and late fall is the time to be more careful as the hawks are more hungry and thus more apt to swoop down and steal a chicken, One thing Must be noted, Even if you are right beside your hen it will not always stop a hawk from doing what it does best, HUNT! My last casualty was last fall, A small chicken only a few months old, scratching in my garden, Wide open air, seen nothing, yet right in arms length this hawk swooped in a stole the chicken.

It was really amazing how quickly and efficiently they hunt, in a matter of seconds the chicken was grabbed, killed and gone. There is no thing as time to respond, It's over before it started. If you have larger hens, Such as the Red egg layers, (Rhode island reds) and they are fully grown as most of mine are, then it's pretty safe to let them out every day. No more likely of them getting carried off during the day then it is for you to get hit by a car, anything can happen. My red hens are even let out on nice days in the winter when their is some bare grown. If you have neighbours You may want to check with them, Because hens do roam within certain short distances. My neighbours are all animal folks, so its never a problem for me. If you have flower beds or a garden then you will have a problem.

I don't usually have flower beds, but when I do they have to be contained with wire to keep the hens out, They will destroy a bed rather quickly if they set their minds to it,
Hens love soil, They must dust in its, It is there means of Itching themselves, If you are going to plant a garden, and can't contain it, Then keep your hens contained in pens until the garden is grow enough, you may still loose some of your garden, but I've always had good luck this way. If there is a problem letting them run all day, then you can always let them out an hour or two before dark, this way they have less time to do damage, run off to a neigbours before heading back to the roost at night, Hens are totally blind in the dark, they are not like us, they don't see at all!,

For this reason they are extremely valuable at nighttime, if something got in with them they won't even make a fuss, you'll just go out in the morning and all will be dead. For this reason I keep night lights in all my hen pens. If a hen can see she will put on quite a racket trying to stay alive, Thus you may hear it and be able to respond and save them.. If you have stray dogs or your neighbours has a dog, If they get loose, most big dogs, if not familiar with hens, can & will kill your hens, There is more chickens killed by neighbouring dogs then any other creature out there!

By Joyce [2]04/03/2008

My hubby says you need to put them up to protect them from the varmits. J. B.

By Mandalyn (Guest Post)04/03/2008

I only let my girls out when we are home so we can kinda keep an eye on them. We just open the coop door when we get home in the afternoon and let them roam. They'll go back into the coop on their own to roost when the sun starts setting. I don't think I'd let them just run free when you aren't there or especially if you haven't got a fenced in yard. Keep in mind that EVERYTHING eats chicken, so if you have a dog you might want to bring it in when you let them out. Also keep an eye out for Hawks because they'll just swoop down and carry them away if they don't have anything close by to hide under. A rooster comes in handy here because he will keep a lookout and herd his girls to safer territory if he spots one. Since you live in the country, his crows shouldn't be a problem, plus having a male around keeps the ladies happy! Also know that they are scratchers by nature and don't let them loose if you have a garden or flowerbeds because they might just do a little landscaping for you that you don't really want! I hope this helps to encourage you to get some chickens! Good luck!

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