The General Poultry Chat Forum

Discuss all aspects of raising poultry. No topic is too small


Best breeds for free range

Looking for any suggestions/ thoughts on the best breed for free ranging, my idea was to possibly have a coop high up with the entrance 6-7 foot above the ground for the birds to fly up and down themselves with maybe a perch halfway to give them a little help if they canít make the full height in one go, obviously they will have access to water and food but i would like a good free ranger that will forage around the farm and be alert and ď street smartĒ in regards to predators.obviously there will never be a predator proof breed but some are certainly better than others

Bob s
Tuesday, April 25th, 2023

My first choice would be Egyptian Fayoumi, unfortunately I haven't been able to find any in Ireland.

The next choice would be a landrace breed like Swedish flowers (if you can find pure birds, many people try to pass off exchequer leghorn, speckled sussex or crosses as flowers).

I did once have a flock of OEG that left their coop and lived wild in an apple tree for many years, on nothing more than an occasional handful of wheat. Only a few small eggs, if you could find them, but great to have around.

Glyn
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Another thought, if you can put up with the noise, have you considered guinea fowl.

Glyn
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

What's with the seven foot high coop, Bob?

Ratcatcher
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Ratcatcher it is an ancient way of keeping hens. The idea is the hens can get up there but if you build it correctly the foxes can't. Cleaning out at that height could prove interesting though.

Glyn
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

For what you describe, no better breed than Old English Pheasant Fowl. Hardy, great free rangers, will return to same nest box for laying and will roost high up.Fantastic layers.

Desy
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Thanks for the suggestions, I am still thinking along the lines of white or perhaps even better brown leghorns ( better camouflage from above) they are quite flighty, alert and are light enough to fly

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Desy, would it be hard to get hatching eggs for that breed ?

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Glyn, had thought about the Guinea fowl but I donít think the noise would go down too well !

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

And any thoughts on how beneficial a good cockerel would help? Would he make much of a difference

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Bob's if you definitely wanted eggs, i can pm you a person who will oblige.. There colour is also good camouflage.

Desy
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Bob, I had to get rid of my guineas, they would make a racket going to roost at night, the dog would bark at them, they would make more racket, the dog would bark more, the family would shout at me, this could go on for hours.

You wrote about a perch half way up, another option is counterbalanced pivoting ramp/ladder like a seesaw. Balanced so a hen can go up it but it drops down under the weight of a fox.

Glyn
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Desy, thank you i will do some investigating for another week or so before I settle for a breed so if i like the look of them i could be in touch. Thank you !

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Glyn, yeah i have seen sort of pivoting ladders for coops aswell but if it was possible I would prefer if they could make they whole 7 foot in one go I would perhaps put a perch 6 inches out but level with the door so it would be much easier for then to land on the perch first and then hop in the door rather than having to be spot on with their aim and going directly in the door, but i wonder would that be expecting too much for them to get up that distance,but my thinking is also that if itís the right breed and they are used to it from a young age they should be fine

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Bob, I don't think leghorns will reliably fly 7ft. Of the breeds I've kept only the OEG and Hamburgs be able to do that, not exactly productive birds.

If you put a perch outside you would have to be sure a fox couldn't jump to it.

Have you thought about where they will lay? Instinct will drive them to nest on the ground rather than 7ft up, so you will probably have a daily egg hunt.

Glyn
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Ah yeah i have thought about the egg problem i was hoping for this coop i would have kinda a separate area with the roostís in one part and then a separate well lit area with a feeder and water and then some nice dark out of the way nest boxes, the idea of a feeder inside is to try keep them from abandoning the coop altogether and opting for a tree or something. How high could you expect say leghorns to get up do you think ? Or any lightish breed like old English pheasant fowl as suggested above

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Another breed worth considering are the Polish Green Legged Partridge Fowl. A rare breed and the native breed of Poland. They can certainly fly! They are great layers of off-white eggs but have to be kept free range or they won't lay.

Joseph lawler
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Thanks,will have a look, any idea about the availability of them in Ireland?

Bob s
Wednesday, April 26th, 2023

Glyn wrote: " I had to get rid of my guineas, they would make a racket going to roost at night, the dog would bark at them, they would make more racket, the dog would bark more, the family would shout at me, this could go on for hours. "

Dogs are looking at me as if I've lost my mind. Wondering why I just spat tea everywhere and started laughing and crying! :D

I am that soldier, Glyn. Eager to make the futile gesture of introducing Gifs into my life. Fortunately, having no family, nor even neighbours.

And now, we have Bob, planning his massive tree house. Soon to become an abandoned folly. Home only to a few expensive feathers and some pine marten scat.

Ye gotta hand it to us fowl fiends; We're 'Free Thinkers'! LMAO!

Ratcatcher
Thursday, April 27th, 2023

Ahahah yes well it hopefully it wonít end up like that no pine martens in my area as far as I know, but yes this coop Iím describing does sound a bit like a treehouse!

Bob s
Thursday, April 27th, 2023

Hi. I just saw the post and I can give you my experience with good free ranging "street smart" birds. I have a flock of Turkens that are thriving on maize/wheat mix and free ranging. Turkens are very savvy, fast and can jump up to a high perch no problem. They're also great layers, I'm getting an average of 8 eggs a day from my flock of 10. Also, if you want them for meat they have 50% lass feathering than other breeds so less plucking. I was a bit worried they wouldn't make it through the wet windy winter here but they are super hardy.

linmad
Saturday, April 29th, 2023

Thanks for the suggestion, i had a look at the breed there and i hope this doesnít come across as rude but i think if i got some of them I would be kicked out of the house due to their lack of feathers 😅.what kind of set up do you have for your birds if they are free ranging in relation to their coop do you close them in every night?

Bob s
Sunday, April 30th, 2023

Ha ha. I know they're very ugly but thats the beauty of them. You either love them or hate them. They are tough, hardy birds from eastern Europe and I'll have nothing else. My chickens have coops that they sleep in at night that is surrounded by a fence to keep predators out. I let them out in the morning and they return in the evening. Really easy to keep.

linmad
Monday, May 1st, 2023

Thank you for the info, im still kinda interested in this ď fly in coop ď method i have found people on other forms that are having good success with it , they are in America too so they have raccoons and skunks to deal with aswell. The person said that they trained their birds by gradually moving their ramp further away from the entrance so the birds go from being able to walk in to having to jump in till they eventually have to flap their wings a little then a lot and so forth

Bob s
Monday, May 1st, 2023

Theres no breed that can out smart a clever fox out number maybe if you have a 100 hens.

paddycrawford
Monday, May 1st, 2023

Tis true paddycrawford. I've been lucky so far.

linmad
Tuesday, May 2nd, 2023


You must have an account to comment here.

You must be registered with an email address to comment.

Click here to create an account. It only takes a few seconds.