Will They Fly the Coop?
• How High and How Far?
It’s understandable having a concern for your chicken’s safety. Especially if you’ve nurtured them since they were little fuzzy day old chicks. We have all spent substantial time worrying about their well-being from the brooder all the way to the coop. But when it’s time to move them to the chicken yard or coop, there’s a whole new set of concerns.
Fortunately your chickens are not a big flight risk. Yes, they do indeed have wings, but I think we both know a chicken has yet to be seen soaring above roof tops. Their wings merely assist them, it’s doubtful a chicken could sustain flight for more than 10 seconds. They are capable of clearing a six foot fence, but it would not be effortless and seldom by choice. Their survival instincts are intact, so any predator threat including the family dog, could indeed send them over a fence or up a tree. But there’s no need to panic, they will come back when they’re ready, usually by dusk.
• Will They Wander?
Chickens are very curious, but if you provide them with entertainment, food, water, and comfort, they aren’t likely to wander off. A grassy patch, or garden, even something as simple as a mud puddle will keep them quite busy. They aren’t runaways by any means, wherever you place them from their first day out of the brooder will become their safety zone. I had five week old chicks escape through a small hole in the chicken yard and were gone the entire day, but all returned home by dark.
• The Alternatives
Another way to curb flight is to clip their wings, especially on the lighter or smaller birds. Heavy birds aren’t near as likely to scale a fence, but on occasion I have been proved wrong. Aviary netting atop the chicken enclosure also works nicely and also serves as excellent protection from hawks.
• The Bottom Line
Whether or not to worry about your chickens flying the coop is probably the last thing you should be concerned about. Keeping predators OUT is far more important than trying to keep chickens in.