One of the biggest struggles I’ve found most new chicken owners run into is simply keeping their new flock safely contained. While we think of chickens as somewhat foolish and bumbling, they can be surprisingly good escape artists at times! Luckily, there are plenty of ways to outsmart them and keep them safe.
But what about Rhode Island Reds? Are they a difficult breed to keep contained?
Can Rhode Island Reds Fly?
Almost all chickens can fly to a small degree, but Rhode Island Reds are not among the more agile airborne breeds. They tend to have a large body relative to the size of their wings, which means they can only fly very short distances and won’t gain much vertical height.
How High of A Fence Needed To Contain Rhode Island Reds?
A three- to four-foot fence around your run is enough to contain many of them, but some Rhode Island Red chickens can fly as high as five or six feet, so a higher fence may be a safer choice.
Another benefit of a higher fence is that it can keep your chickens safe from outside predators. While a three-foot fence might be enough to keep your birds in, it may not keep out a stray dog or wandering wildlife. However, Rhode Island Reds do tend to be pretty aware of their surroundings and alert to danger, so simply making sure they have free access to a secure coop or other hiding spots may help mitigate that danger.
Want a Shorter Fence?
If you prefer a shorter fence, using a mesh cover over the top of your run can help discourage airborne escapes. Make sure the mesh is see-through and allows plenty of sunlight, however. Shade mesh is a good option for part of the run if you live in a sunny climate, but chickens need plenty of direct sun to thrive.
Other Coop Considerations For Rhode Island Reds
Provide Room To Roam
Rhode Island Reds tend to be active, inquisitive birds, so giving them plenty of room to roam is a must. A large, secure run is the safest way to let them stretch their legs, but some people also do limited or partial free range.
This can be everything from giving them free rein in your large but fenced-in backyard or taking your chances with unfenced spaces. If you do the latter, consider teaching your chickens to come on cue just in case you need to gather them up in the middle of the day.
Secure The Bottom of The Fence
Chickens also can be surprisingly adept at digging out under fences, especially if they see tasty-looking insects or plants on the other side. They naturally know how to dig for worms and larvae, so they sometimes transfer those skills to escaping. Consider placing a heavy board at the base of your fence or partially burying it in the ground if your chickens are escaping this way.
Secure The Coop at Night
Finally, make sure that your coop closes up securely and completely at night. Some predators, such as raccoons, can be pretty talented at opening simple doors and latches. Combining a secure door with plenty of vertical perches can help keep your chickens safe in their coop at night.