Chickens First Time Out Of The Run Into Their Fenced Range

“Oh my!” (said the chickens), “There’s a BIG WORLD out here!” (as they ventured out of their chicken coop run area into their fenced-in range.

It was fun watching them slowly step through the door. The first thing they started (and continued) doing was eating the grasses, weeds, and bugs. It was especially funny watching them try to get the grasshoppers. It’s amazing how they can spot insects and snatch them up.

Sampson, our mini-Dachshund, LOVES to play with the chickens. Outside the wire of course…

As the ISA-Brown’s would make their way around the fence line, Sampson was there with them. If one of them got right up to the fence, Sampson would lurch at the fence and “whoof” (all while wagging his tail in glee). It was hilarious.

The chickens (the flock) stayed together as they explored their range. It’s natural instinct due to the predator threat in their DNA. When one of them realized she was way behind the group (having been distracted by a cricket or whatever…), she would run/sprint/fly to get back with the flock. Too funny.

To every one of you who donated recently via the “NRP Donation Challenge”, I want you to know that your proceeds paid for all of this. The cost of materials for the coop, their run, and now the fenced-in range. I can’t thank you enough. So really, this is the MSB Community Coop ;)

ISA-Brown chickens in the range

About the fenced-in range

So, I had built the chicken coop and its attached run area in a spot where I planned on adding a perimeter fence around it. This would provide a decent size “open range” for them during the off-winter months.

I finally got around to acquiring the fencing and T-posts for the project. I used about 160 feet of galvanized chicken wire (4′ tall). The spacing of the T-posts depended on whether or not I hit rocks (aka New Hampshire potatoes) just underneath the surface.

The shape is basically egg shaped (haha). The back of the “egg” starts at the front of the coop (on each side) so I wouldn’t have to go through a gate to access the rear coop for cleanup, and the side coop for the nesting boxes (eggs!).

Still waiting on their EGGS!
Should be soon…

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34 Comments

  1. Looking good!
    Since you are near woods, there should be a steady supply of bugs to keep them busy.—– protein

  2. Enjoy that grass for the few days it will be there. They turn abt grass into a Martian landscape of chicken dust baths 😂

    1. scentophile, yep’ it wont take em long. been there, done that. good luck! it will be OK. throw some grass into the pen when you cut the yard. free food and they’ll love it

  3. How Cool. They certainly look lush. Sampson says, “Hey, thought I was the only pet”.

  4. Do you have Hawks ?
    Do you have Bobcats ?
    That 4 ft. fence is no defense.
    One day you will look out and see a Bobcat disappearing over the fence with a chicken.
    They are ‘greased lightning’.
    It’s happened to me with a 6 ft.fence – now completely fenced over.

    1. Yes. We have all of that. Plus mountain lions (though NH Fish & Game won’t admit it – I’ve seen several!), coyotes, fox, skunk, raccoons, groundhogs, porcupines, bear, moose, you name it…

      That said, I will not be letting them run unattended, at least to the best of my ability. I’m outside around the homestead alot – which itself will keep predators away (typically – due to humans being around). Additionally I always carry a weapon (though I know it could happen PDQ). Their normal safe space is the enclosed run area. In fact looking out there right now, I see they’re all inside again.

      I know it’s a risk. We’re going to keep an eye on it, and like I said, we’re not going to let them out and forget about them all day. Thanks for the heads-up though. I know most everyone else here has lost some of their birds to predators free ranging…

      I may put up an electric fence wire around the exterior perimeter of the fence. Problem though is I’m not going to put it too low because I don’t want my own dog getting zapped (he’s short). Ideally about 8″ would be good for first wire, but again, not gonna get my dog zapped. Got to figure that out…

      1. Ken while I understand not wanting Samson zapped it will not harm him and he will learn quickly. All my dogs had to go through the learn the hot wire situation. When we were in Granite Falls WA we ran a hot wire to keep the goats in. The Gate wire got my sisters dachshund by the tail zap and the very next day it went right though that gate again tail high and then dropped the tail and continued under the wire like nothing ever happened. 8 inches high will not help much against the low predators Ken.

        1. So, what height do you suggest, NH Michael.

          Anyone else out there with an electric fence wire for chicken predators… what height(s) do you use outside your fence?

          1. Ken,
            We run two wires.
            The bottom at 8″
            and a top wire about 5′.
            It’s a hot one.
            20 mile fencer for a 12 x 12 pen.

            My ole Red dawg touched it, once.
            Scoping out chickens.
            He came a running to the deck and pooped himself a couple times

          2. My three chicken keeping neighbors of mine use a 4 inch high 2-4 inches out hot wire to keep the racoons honest about reaching in or simply ripping that chicken wire apart. Two of them have a hot wire at hip height to keep our local Bear well trained. The only part of a bear that would notice that hot wire is it’s nose and mouth so they place a strip of raw bacon on the wire each spring to “Train the Bear”. It’s an annual spring thing to be the first to report a pile of bear scat where the Bear got “Trained” last night. Seems they are intelligent enough to learn BUT forget over the winter snooze.

            As others already said Chicken Wire keeps Chickens IN and no predators out. The chicken yard I have a share in we used chicken wire on emt pipe arches as the Roof to keep the owls and hawks around here honest.

            The best chickenyard around has some 1 inch welded wire mesh with 6 inches buried and large rocks all around for hard digging for the sides and chicken wire roof. That PLUS the double Hot wires. They have only lost a few due to forgetting to latch the gate properly over the years.

  5. Ken a future project, my Grandmother had her chicken house with two doors. One east, one west for the chickens. She had two large fenced yards for them. A was the chicken yard this year while B was the Garden site. Next year reverse. That way the bugs eggs and larva and garden clean up was the chickens job, while they fertilized next years garden site.

    Given how you and I need a anti-deer fence anyway it’s a twofer.

    Nice looking ladies’ you have there. Nice looking chicken coop.

    1. I like the idea of adding a door on the other side. If they get caught over there with a “fly by”, they’ll not have to run around the other side. Good suggestion.

    2. Or something like rotational grazing could be possibly utilized with two areas. It depends on the number of birds to certain sized areas and how fast the greenery recovers (precipitation and variety of grass). When the birds have one area trimmed down some but definitely not to the point of it being a dirt lot, move them over to the fresh lot. As the first area recovers, they are cleaning up the second area. Wash-rinse-repeat. Kind of use them like lawnmowers. Just want to make sure they don’t over stress the ground too much as this will affect the recovery time. On the other hand, many people are fine with the chicken areas being just a dirt lot.

    3. NH
      I like the garden idea. Besides eating the bigs, I imagine they would do a fair share of removing weed seeds as well. Which would help with keeping the garden cleaner the following year as well as not having to spend as much time operating the hoe.

  6. I would love to be able to have some chickens. At my old house there was a flock that came visiting every day.

    1. Heh Heh… My neighbor on the other side of one of the tree lines stopped by one day to let me know my chickens had been hanging around his deck…. This was before I lost 5 when they were free ranging. Now I’ve got a nice run for when I’m working and can’t keep an eye on them. Still like to let them out to roam around the property. I keep a .22 rifle on the deck table just in case. Still haven’t gotten him, but I’ll have revenge on that darn fox for my 5 lost girls :-)

  7. Couple things to remember…chicken wire keeps chickens in, but it doesn’t keep anything out that wants to eat said chickens.
    Also, chickens are birds, birds fly, 4 foot fencing will not keep them in once they figure out they can fly…I have used the plastic netting that is sold for protecting fruit tree’s strung across the top to keep them in, also works pretty well at keeping owls, hawks and other raptors out. And last, say goodbye to whatever grass is inside there, they will make short work of that…Good looking ladies you got there, though, and I am sure Sampson will have a blast chasing them up and down the fence line.

  8. You did a great job! And they look amazing. Can’t believe how quickly they’ve grown, but they’re beautiful. Hope Mrs. J. can have her bench inside now so they can run to her as they roam around.

  9. Samson is actually helping you train them to stay away from the fence. Predators will wait by the fence, reach through and try to drag a chicken out. So Samson is doing his job as hen-guard.

  10. Ken
    I would like to offer a suggestion.
    During the last drought a lack of food was driving the bears to raid chicken coops! Selectmen had fish and game come to talk to townsfolk, one gentlemen lost 40 chicken’s in one raid!
    Basis of the story is buy a charger that will deter a large animal, cow or horse!
    First one I bought was for racoon, not enough for bear’s, yes I found out the hard way.
    I use four strands of wire,it is cheap enough!

  11. Looks great, Ken! Does this mean this is a MSB community (coop)erative? Glad to see it worked out so well!

  12. Yep, you’re gonna have a dirt lot soon. But, on the fun side, you can get a bale of straw and throw it in there. This is the best “toy” for chickens. They love to scratch and pick through it and after working it up for a month or so you can compost it for your garden. Make them earn their keep. :)

    Aren’t they fun? My little pom does the charge the fence thing.

  13. Just re-read the article and comments…a nice diversion from the real world
    It’s good to see life continues on these turbulent times. Thank you Ken!

  14. Looks great Ken! And I love watching my chickens outside. They are so funny. Nothing beats “Farm TV” lol!

  15. chickens look great. I am happy for you. Our chickens not only provide great protein, but LOTS of fun watching and laughing. Right now, we have had so much rain this week, that part of our chicken yard looks like a pond!

  16. Next thing ya know you’ll be rolling in eggs. I see a future article about over winter storage. Been reading up on water glassing, and liming. All the supplies ya need are available on Amazon. May even pickle a few.

    1. Hey Gopher,
      I have had eggs from my hens in the fridge that are still decent 3-4 months, have used older too, so storage shouldnt be a problem, even seen where people crack them into a ziplock and freeze them.
      One tip i saw on keeping your layers going is to add a light in their coop on a timer that keeps it light for a consistent time, like goes on at 5:30 off at 8:30 every day, havent tried it but have known a few peeps who do it, production will still slow around molt, depending on hens you may be still getting eggs anyway

    2. Mmmm… Spicy Pickled Ghost pepper eggs. I usually make a big enough brine for 4 or 5 Quart size mason jars, about 14 eggs per jar. Last time had 16 habaneros, a dozen jalapenos, 6 ghost peppers, some sriracha, garlic, and some red hot pepper flakes. by the time I get to the last jar it’s been sitting for a couple of months, phew….. delicious.

      Now that my chickens are giving me almost a dozen eggs a day I think I’ll be eating more of those as well as some Curried chicken salad sandwiches. And of course keeping some for the longer term.

  17. Kulafarmer, I tried the light on a timer and it does work, however I read somewhere that hens are born with a certain amount of eggs, so I quit doing the light to try and get more years out of the hens, if that makes sense. I started storing eggs in the back of the fridge for wintertime use, if they are clean when you collect them, don’t wash the bloom off and they will be good for several months in the fridge, even if you have to wash them at collection time, they will still last a long time in the fridge. No telling how old the ones are that you buy in the store

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