To let my chickens run free?

(49 Posts)
bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 13:39:40

They live in a coop and a run up until now but go out free for a couple of hours every day.

They've all stopped laying and they're 3 so not so much time left for the old girls.

They'd love nothing more than to run loose. The downside to this is the hawks, eagles fishers and possibly bummy dog angryare going to be a fairly big threat.

Dh says it's kinder to let them loose in the day and be happy little bok bok girls and still lock them up at night if they want to be than one by one getting sick and probably dying slowly.

They'd probably only get a month of it as when the snow hits they hide in their coop for months anyway.

Wwyd?

atticusclaw2 Thu 17-Nov-16 13:41:45

Mine would be gone in a flash if I didn't lock them up at night. Fox must check most nights since on the rare occasion we forget to lock them in, the fox gets them.

BratFarrarsPony Thu 17-Nov-16 13:43:46

well yes they could run free in the daytime and be locked in at night surely?

Bertucci Thu 17-Nov-16 13:44:52

My friend does this - hers happily run free during the day and turn up ready to be locked in the coop at dusk. They have a lovely life.

HSMMaCM Thu 17-Nov-16 13:46:56

As PP said, I forgot to lock the coop one night and lost them all. Ours have lived way beyond 3 years, so they might still have some life in them yet.

Mamushka Thu 17-Nov-16 13:48:37

I would do this if I was sure the garden is fairly secure against predators and if I was confident they couldn't fly over fences etc.

Ours had their wings clipped but can still hop up just over 1 metre onto the roof of their coop, from there they could hop over the high garden wall. They could theoretically also hop onto wheelie bins and over the fence too. So I only let mine wander freely in the garden when I'm there to supervise!

Bluntness100 Thu 17-Nov-16 13:51:43

The foxes will have them, that's not a nice ending, no i wouldn't do it.

BratFarrarsPony Thu 17-Nov-16 13:53:00

well my hens ran free all day and then got locked up at night and not one was taken by a fox..(lucky i know)

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:01:23

We don't have foxes. The biggest threat is eagles and fishers and they hunt in the day.

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:02:38

Dh thinks they'd rather have possibly shorter but healthier and happier lives looking for bugs.

I'm on the fence.

atticusclaw2 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:03:40

I've had them taken by birds of prey before but its a risk we take.

Mine free range all day and then they put themselves in at night and we lock up. Let them out again when we feed them in the morning.

Trifleorbust Thu 17-Nov-16 14:03:48

I suspect something will get your chickens if you leave them out at night - cats would have a go at them at least. Chickens like to go into the coop at night anyway and will feel much more secure.

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 14:09:28

I think we'll let them free range in the day and lock up at night.

We've had one taken by a golden eagle, one by a bald eagle, one by a fisher I think and one by my lovely sweet wouldn't hurt a fly dog. The ones taken by eagles were tiny bantam Cochin frizzles and not the sharpest pencil in the box.

Although the golden eagles could probably take one if the cats if they wanted.

c3pu Thu 17-Nov-16 15:15:01

Could you wring their necks and eat them, or are egg-laying chickens not good for eating?

TheViceOfReason Thu 17-Nov-16 15:24:56

They will have stopped laying because it's winter.... and "pet" chickens live a LOT longer than 3 years old.

SquinkiesRule Thu 17-Nov-16 15:29:08

Our pet Chickens laid eggs till they died of old age, anywhere from 9 to 13 years old, when the last one was eaten by a wild animal when the coop was left open by mistake.
They lay a lot less in winter when there is less light. You could put a light in the coop on a timer that comes on before it gets light, goes off in daylight and goes on again in the evening for a few hours.

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Nov-16 15:38:34

Can you put a net over the part of the garden where you let them run free?

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 15:58:46

I don't want to force them to lay. I'm happy for them to have a winter off. It gets so cold here they won't be laying at all. Some people use heat lamps but it's really hard to eliminate fire danger and we lose power so often I can't chance them getting used to it.

We'll get new chicks in spring so I'm fine to let this lot chill now, they've laid through their first two winters which is unusual for here.

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 15:59:04

They'd be a little tough for eating I think.

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 16:00:52

I thought of a net but our garden is too big to do that. They have a lot of places they can take cover. The fishers are what will get them in the end but they've even managed to bust in to the coop before. Awful things.

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 16:01:55

Maybe they lay for less time here due to the harsher winters? I know people say the longest they live here is around 3-4.

Randytortoise Thu 17-Nov-16 16:08:11

Not chickens but my guinea pigs have free run of the garden 24/7 . They have a hutch which has a circular hole cut in the bottom so they choose when to come and go (not in the winter they're in the garage now). The eldest was 9 when he passed away. In the 10 years I've been keeping them, only 1 has ever disappeared (I'm guessing bird of prey). We don't really worry about other predators as we have a large dog who is frequently in the garden.
I think they should be ok as long as they are locked away at night.

Mrsemcgregor Thu 17-Nov-16 16:14:25

Daft question of the day, what's a fisher? blush

Endmoor1405 Thu 17-Nov-16 16:14:56

Ours have all stopped laying at the moment (well, very very infrequently anyway!) because of the wet and the short day length. And ours are all under two years old. Just because they don't lay when it gets dark early doesn't mean they are going to die. And for what it's worth, after 3 years of giving their all for you, I think they deserve better than to just be left to their own devices and take their chances. If you aren't willing to do the worst part for them, don't make something else take the decision for you- they owe you nothing but I'll bet you have hundreds of eggs to pay them for!

Oh and FWIW they don't make great roasting birds but make tasty casseroles and stock!

bummymummy77 Thu 17-Nov-16 16:24:26

Not a daft question at all! I had no idea what there were either.

Kind of like weasels I think. But very aggressive.

I'm thinking of letting them go as I think they'll be happier mooching around for a month before the bad weather sets in. It's like the cats, they'd be safer in the house too but they'd be moody miserable.

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