Hens allowed to free range in your Garden
Keep an eye on your flock, Foxes get hungry
We've already covered things to look out for in the Vegetable Garden, so now we'll have a look at the general garden.
It should be said first of all that if you intend to let them run loose, Foxes do not just hunt at night. I've seen Chickens snatched virtually under my nose in the middle of the day, so I strongly advise you not to leave your Home when they are walking around.
There is a general opinion that Hens are going to ruin your grass if they're outside. If you have a static Run or just a Lawn with a Fence rather than a Hedge, this is true. But, given the option between Grass and underneath Hedges or Trees, they'll go for the latter two almost everytime. There is more for them to scratch and hunt around for in. See 'where you should site your Coop'
This can be often confirmed when seeing a Free Range Farm. They can have a large field to roam around in, but they tend to hang around the Sheds. Most Farmers now put Tree Trunks around and about to entice their natural ways. Poultry originate from Jungle Fowl, they are nor grassland creatures. The main reason the grass is ruined is simply that they want to get to what's underneath it!
So, should you have a Static Run, rather than placing it in the middle of the Lawn, try putting it on the side against a Hedge. I believe you'll find them a lot happier. The theory of them must having grass is not altogether so.
I have a fairly large lawn area, but they only really use this as a pathway to either the Greenhouse (when they're allowed) and the Hedgerow, their favourite places being under the large Laurel Bush and along the Kerb of the Driveway.
If you have a Bench in the Garden, they'll gladly go under it for long periods of time, both for the shade and the scrape.
That leads us onto your beloved flower beds. Well, don't expect what you don't expect me to say - they will decimate them! What you have in flowers you may not get next year. In Autumn when the flower seeds pop, they'll hear it and believe me, they will go straight to it snatching the fallen seeds. We had a marvellous Lupin Garden, hundreds of Plants everywhere, then we got Chickens! The following Spring not a single flower grew!
A fascinating fact about them is they appear to have no fear of things which other pets do. A fine example of this are Strimmers and Lawnmowers. Don't expect them to fly out the way when you're approaching them, they will stand their ground until the last possible second. I've near had ready made Casserole a few times, especially when they're in the Undergrowth.
They are inquisitive creatures. Even if they know there's probably not going to get any food, they will still venture into every open door just to have a nose and come bedtime, you could have quite a search on your hands. If you have a coal shed - they like them!
Once they get to know you and the sound of their food pan being rattled, you should be able to round them up for bed. Another way is to 'herd' them in, walking behind them, arms outstretched - If you want them to go left, bring the right arm forward. But break the group and you've had it. See my video on How to get your chickens back in the Coop
No matter how many you have, one will be an escapee, so check out any possible exit channels to the neighbours and roads.
There aren't too many things which are more enjoyable than watching Chickens scampering free. They are a real Karma and their habits and personalities will rub off onto you.
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