I dedicate this post to Aunt Wendy, our silver-laced Wyandotte who passed this morning. She was five and although she was tiny, she was the boss. All the others respected her and moved out of her way when she wanted them to. Enjoy string cheese with Barbie and the others, sweet Wendy. You are so missed. You have no idea.
People have asked me why we don’t let the chickens free-range. Five years ago when we started keeping chickens, we looked into the practice and realized very quickly that it is not feasible for our feathered family members. For us, it’s mostly about their safety:
- We have German shepherds. Although Gisele will sit with the chickens all day long, allowing them to pick at her fluffy fur and roam around her feet and tail, the other pups most likely will not.
- Hawks have always frequented our properties. In Southampton, we saw red-tailed hawks every day and they would perch right atop the chickens’ pen, waiting for an opportunity to pounce. Here, we have mostly Cooper’s hawks and they’re notorious for sitting high at the tops of the tall pines waiting for their chance.
- Other birds of prey such as owls will take a chicken, and we have plenty of Barred owls and also Great-horned.
- Wildlife such as coyotes, bobcats, foxes, bears (which don’t usually bother chickens), raccoons, etc., have frequented our properties. They are natural predators and love to eat chickens. (Possums like their eggs and I have heard of them killing chickens, but it’s quite rare.)
- I would hate for our chickens to make their way to the road and get hit by a car. At times, unfortunately, drivers are careless or worse, deliberately malicious.
- Where I live, there are dogs who run free around the neighborhood, and in the beginning of our time here, they would hang around in our yard eyeing the chickens.
- Cats don’t usually mess with chickens, but it can happen. Also, in the springtime there may be chicks which a neighbor cat would easily and happily scoop up.
- Other chickens in the neighborhood may free-range which would cause problems with ours. They may fight each other which could end badly, and they can carry nasty diseases which we don’t want around ours.
- Our birds may become a nuisance to the neighbors or even become lost or taken.
- We don’t want them using our vehicles and front porch as a bathroom. What a mess that would be!
- They are little beggars! There’s no way we would find a second of peace if we wanted to sit outside, which we do frequently. They would be sitting with us, begging for food and attention. It’s our fault, yes, but it just would be a mess.
We have an enclosure with a safe sleeping space. They are free to fly and roost up high, and they can sleep in the nesting boxes or on the outside roost, but they are locked up secure at night.
They have entertainment, treats, and heavy-duty protection from the elements, and they also have friends. As much as I would love to set them free to explore and run, they just won’t survive it. I am not against free-ranging and truly envy the practice, but it just won’t work for our chickens here.
Click HERE to read more about free-ranging chickens.
Click here to see why I’m writing: 543