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Hi I let the girls free range all day when I am on days or off. They have started to roost in the barn outside the coop. Most are up high enough that they are out of danger from fox or coyote. I am trying to decide if I should make them go in the coop or not. Two of them roost in a tree too. Does anyone completely free range no coop? Any advice or past stories would be helpful.
 

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I free range and have left certain chickens outside the coop because they were high in a tree. I do shoo down the ones that roost lower in the tree. So far I have yet to loose a chicken to a predator. Oh and I'm also in the woods of Wisconsin. We have Eagles, Hawks, Owls, Cougars, Wolves, Bears, Coyotes, Racoons, ect as our predators. So far the only downfall I've seen to letting them roost outside is they lay eggs outside somewhere and I cant find them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I thought about clipping them but then I worried that if they needed to get away from something fast that option would be gone. About half of them are roosting in the coop. If I start having problems I will lock them up at night.
 

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sharkbait: I thought about clipping them but then I worried that if they needed to get away from something fast that option would be gone.
Exactly right. Never clip wings if you are going to free range them. They might need them.

I think people's situations and circumstances are different and what works for one won't work everywhere. I have a good dog out with my free ranging chickens & I think is the best defense against predators for free ranging chickens. In addition, my pasture "horseshoes" around my home and barns & I have a good Jenny in the pasture (any predator coming to the home and barns must pass through open pasture or open front yard). My Toulouse Geese deter hawks.

Along with my geese, some of my chickens stay out 24/7 (the Game hens, an Ameriaucana hen & some of the Buckeyes stay out all night); some of my Buckeyes are practically feral. However, most of the older birds go in their respective coops at dusk and I count & lock up. The Ameriaucana and one of the Game hens roost safely in a large cedar tree. The other ones roost in an open barn (the Buckeyes are too heavy to roost high in trees). If my resident Great Horned Owl (GHO) ever decided to add chicken (or geese) to its diet, then I could be in trouble but my dogs & Jenny keep the ground predators away; however, there is enough wild prey around that I have not been bothered by the GHO.

I lose an occasional free ranging young bird out on the periphery in the forest when they start ranging farther out (my dog is locked to the borders of my property by an invisible fence -- the coyotes have learned this). When a young bird becomes a coyote meal, the others in that group seem to become more predator savvy.
 

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Mine have a coop but are all free range, we never close the door to the coop. About half of them will roost in the coop at night and the other half prefer trees or a large bush. Only problem I had is a few of them decided to sleep on the deck rails. It was cute until the pile of poo started adding up. When it got dark i threw them in the coop, did that for 3 consecutive days and they quit sleeping on the deck. I figure whatever is the most comfortable to them is fine with me (as long as its not on the deck)
 

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My girls also coop themselves. Do you have roosting bars in the coop? Also is there plenty of ventilation in there, as they will stay outside if the air quality is not to their liking. My bet is that when the weather starts getting cold they will come in on their own...
 

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Mine go in their coop for their night. When they're ready they all head in or if I call them in. I won't risk anything getting my girls. Their coop is a baracade the way we set ours up. I'd be heartbroke if anything got them. I can call them by name and they'll come running. We keep our big dog outside with them at all times if they are free-ranging during the day (which is only allowed when we are home). Our dog, Lily, loves her "chicken sitter" job. If I can't find one of my girls, Lily will always show me. She lets me know if they start to venture too far. She plays with our RIR Abbie all the time too. Funny to see.
 

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My rooster is free range, he has the whole front yard. I have a wooden deck and he loves it. I step on poop occasionally, but we hose the deck down daily. Question: I am getting more hens for him. Their coop is in the backyard. I was wondering about leaving the chickens out at night (only time the dogs rest) So they could have free roam time. Is that safe? I have never had any predators in my garden except for squirrells and cats. any thoughts would be appreciated..
 

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Night would not make sense. That's when most predators come out. That's when chickens go to roost/bed/sleep. Your best option is a chicken run. Your chickens may attract predators you never knew were out there. Right now your yard has no interest for them.
 

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Thanks...I have the run built already for the hens coming. My rooster lives outside on my front porch since Febuary and no predators?
 

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You can not make a chicken sleep where you want them to. If they are raised in a good coop they will return there in the evening, but nothing is guaranteed forever. I free range 29+ adults/large pullets who have abandoned the main coop for the barn and a rhododendron at night. If they decide to relocate to new sleeping quarters, your only recourse is to restrict access to forbidden areas. Your only concern should be protection from snow - most, not all of mine will come in out of a good snowfall.
 

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I have a handful of hens and one rooster that still insist on roosting in the tree. A fox or coyote can STILL get them. They will patiently wait at dawn until the hen comes down and then BAM---------------breakfast. Yup I've lost three that way.
 

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I no longer let mine free range. I switched from a coop to having chicken tractors. I move them to a clean spot each day. It was just costing too much to loose so many birds each year to predators.
 

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Exactly right. Never clip wings if you are going to free range them. They might need them.

I think people's situations and circumstances are different and what works for one won't work everywhere. I have a good dog out with my free ranging chickens & I think is the best defense against predators for free ranging chickens. In addition, my pasture "horseshoes" around my home and barns & I have a good Jenny in the pasture (any predator coming to the home and barns must pass through open pasture or open front yard). My Toulouse Geese deter hawks.

Along with my geese, some of my chickens stay out 24/7 (the Game hens, an Ameriaucana hen & some of the Buckeyes stay out all night); some of my Buckeyes are practically feral. However, most of the older birds go in their respective coops at dusk and I count & lock up. The Ameriaucana and one of the Game hens roost safely in a large cedar tree. The other ones roost in an open barn (the Buckeyes are too heavy to roost high in trees). If my resident Great Horned Owl (GHO) ever decided to add chicken (or geese) to its diet, then I could be in trouble but my dogs & Jenny keep the ground predators away; however, there is enough wild prey around that I have not been bothered by the GHO.

I lose an occasional free ranging young bird out on the periphery in the forest when they start ranging farther out (my dog is locked to the borders of my property by an invisible fence -- the coyotes have learned this). When a young bird becomes a coyote meal, the others in that group seem to become more predator savvy.
Sounds like an awesome place! Jen:)
 
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