Free Roam or a Chicken Coop?

Making the decision to free roam your chickens has benefits for you and your flock, but there are also risks to consider.

Two Hens

amy elizabeth

Wondering how big a chore it would be to have a few chickens? Maybe you already have a backyard flock and find them a bit overwhelming to care for. Truth is, I think we’re all a little guilty of fussing over our birds more than we need to. We worry about predators and try to keep them safe by locking them up in a coop, then, watch them unhappily pace their walls of confinement.

Chickens that are allowed to free roam will be busy looking for bugs and scratching around in the dirt. They will require much less upkeep, lower your feed bill, and have much cleaner coop. In my opinion, coops are for laying eggs and a night time safe haven. I lock up my flock at night and do the best I can to protect them from predators. At dawn, I let them out and hope for the best. That may be a little risky, but lets face it, so is driving in your car.

If you don’t have the free roaming option, then a coop is going to require some work on your part. Even just a couple hens are dirty, and after just a few days the coop will need to be cleaned. Coops can be hot in the summer and freezing cold in winter. Cleaning the coop, feeding, watering, and picking eggs probably isn’t going to make your list of favorite things to do in inclement weather.

Resource Library2Chickens are actually pretty smart, they managed to find food, shelter, and are capable of hiding from danger. They huddle together to stay warm in the winter, and are smart enough to dig holes in the dirt to stay cool during the summer months.
I provide a safe place for my flock at night, and enjoy watching my chickens enjoy their freedom during the day. 

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About tbnranch

amy elizabeth, writer, author. Lives in the northeastern reaches of the Sonoran Desert on a small hobby farm. Raises laying hens.
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9 Responses to Free Roam or a Chicken Coop?

  1. neilirving says:

    Ours are in the coop at night and take them self’s off to bed, but most of the day when there is someone is home they are in the garden pecking about and trying to get in the house 🙂

  2. humblelittlehomestead says:

    I agree! The benefits of free ranging greatly outweighs the small risks. We’ve been letting ours free range for the last 4 years. Other than the first year where we lost several to predators, we haven’t had any losses. We installed a large yard light and also have an outside light we turn on at the barn at night. The first year we didn’t have those. I don’t know if that’s what’s been keeping the predators away or what, but I feel lucky we haven’t lost any for a long time. We do lock them up at night and let them out early in the morning. Chickens are very smart so I think that once they grow accustomed to free ranging they become really savvy when it comes to avoiding danger.

    • tbnranch says:

      I put those Nite Guard predator boxes around my property, I thought they would be a waste of money but they are great! I haven’t seen any predators here since! We haven’t lost any birds to predators in years now. You’re right, chickens are very aware of danger and are pretty clever on staying safe, especially after they’ve had a scare.

  3. lovemy6hens says:

    Excellent comparison to driving a car! They are definitely safer free ranging in my backyard than they are on a trip to the vet.
    I hate the pacing they do when I haven’t let mine out. The complaining makes it worse! 🙂

  4. Ours free range behind a 100 meter electric fence for safety and then have a hen house at night. We have had them for 5 years now and not lost a single one to a fox. And they seem very happy.

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