Every good chicken keeper knows the importance of protecting their birds from predators. Most of us will, or already have lost birds to a coyote, hawk, fox, bobcat, etc. It’s devastating to see the after mass, I know, it’s happened here, I lost seven birds after a coyote attack in 2016. That changed everything I loved most about keeping chickens.
Since the attack, my birds have been completely safe after building them a 10×10 predator-proof enclosure. Unfortunately, that means their happy life of free-roaming our acreage came to a screeching halt. To me, it meant never enjoying my birds out and about, it was now just a chore for their well-being. Chickens live for the opportunity to scratch in the dirt and look for bugs, sunbathe in the morning sun, or find that perfect spot for a dust bath. Since confinement, I’ve noticed the overall health of my flock has not quite been what it was.
The heat plays havoc on confined chickens in the desert southwest, heat stroke is real, and it’s deadly. Free-roam flocks have a much higher rate of survival and are quite resourceful in finding shade and cooler ground to burrow in. So this brings me to a dilemma, coop for safety from a predator, or free roam for quality of life and comfort from the extreme heat?
Quality of Life
Today I opened the gate and allowed my flock to live a happy life. After considering the risk, I decided being cooped up in 110+ would have the same outcome as a predator attack… both could mean a death sentence. I will do my part to protect them in every way I can. They will be confined from dusk to late morning, but during the hottest part of the day, they will be free to find comfort.
Here are some of the girls who found a comfy place in the feed room… where there’s a giant oscillating fan and mist system. 🙂