Friday, 2 May 2014

Free range chickens

I now free range the chickens 100%.  I do not bother closing the coop door at night, or shutting the fence.  I've considered tearing down the fence, and removing the bird netting over top.. but there are reasons to keep them in place.  For one thing, hawks fly overhead occasionally, and it gives the chickens shelter.  And for another, it stops other birds getting in and eating their feed, or at least discourages them from trying to and learning the habit.

There's a possibility that stoats and ferrets, which I have seen around my property a few times, might visit and steal the eggs.  Or rats for that matter.  But I'll deal with that when I have to.  I like the idea they can get out and about when they are ready.  Even if they've finally worked out how to get out onto the road..

I have learnt something new about chickens.  If the door blows shut before it gets so dark that they decide it's time to roost, they'll just sit under the coop in the dark.  And no matter how much you prod them, they'll just huddle together.  I had to basically lift each one over to the door, and then shine the torch on it, and wait a bit before each jumped in.  And even then I'm pretty sure they all stood around on the floor of the coop, rather than jumping up onto the roost.

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