Clay shared a comment on this post about a neighbor with a wild flock of chickens that lived on its own… for a while!
“We bought a farm in east Texas 2 years ago. The neighbor had bought some red jungle fowl years prior and these birds were everywhere living totally wild. They would flush out of the ditch like pheasants when we drove by. They survived predation just fine when he was living there full time with his dogs. However after he sold to a weekender the jungle fowl were killed off in a few months. Without the dogs and shotgun bearing farmer around the balance shifted and the fowl could not hold back Mother Nature. 3 hens used to come around my place to piggy back off what I threw out for my fat cooped up domestic chickens but sadly I haven’t seen them in a few months. But definitely totally possible to keep a wild flock.”
Florida Bullfrog is currently writing a book on the topic of keeping chickens in the wild without coops or wire. One thing he has noted in our conversations is the probable importance of farm dogs in protecting the flock.
We’ve lost a couple of birds out of our well-protected chicken tractors over the last week but are hoping to reduce the levels of predation by keeping our dog outside at night. She has been out on her own a few nights this week and did fine. As she grows, her “defense” instincts are kicking in and she’s been barking at random animals and people coming through the yard. Perhaps that’s the last piece needed for keeping chickens on the wild side.
That said, I still plan to release some birds in the swampy area of our land, far from the house, to see if they’ll live. A couple of “red broiler” birds escaped captivity a month ago and have been living fine outside the coop near the house. A rooster has done the same. If I can catch them, I think I have the start to a new free-range/feral flock.