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How to Better Protect Your Free-Range Flock

| 1/3/2017 9:29:00 AM

When we moved to our NE Texas homestead we decided we really wanted to raise free-range chickens along with our cattle and goats. We fortified the coop of our 1880's barn so we could house our hens there. Each morning, I'd let the chickens out to free range and then lock them safely inside the coop each night when they came to roost.

Free-Range Chicken Predators

But one day as I went to check for eggs I spied a pile of feathers.  Although my heart sank, I realized this is just part of the circle of life. But a few days later, yet another hen was attacked and killed. And another. And another, until they were all gone. Wow!

0915 Chicken Feathers TaylorMadeRanch

So we replaced those hens and one by one they also disappeared. We even set out a wildlife camera to try to catch sight of the daytime predator so we'd know what we were dealing with. Coyote? Hawk? Something else? We were never able catch a picture of the predator so we could never tell for sure.

Although I loved our 100% free-range operation, daytime predators had obviously figured out where they could get a convenient chicken dinner. We needed to make a change to protect our hens!

What if we moved the chickens closer to the house? I've seen some amazing chicken / garden combinations and was really interested in trying something like that. Our garden is close to the house so checking for eggs would be easy too. But our garden layout held some challenges for a combination garden/chicken pen.

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