Hello there! I finally got myself signed up for this forum, as I was checking this site all of the time for varied chicken advice.
I started with 6 Sex Links hens from the tractor supply about 5 years ago just to rid my yard of dandeiions and ticks without chemicals. I have since fallen in love with raising chickens and am about to raise my third brood of chicks come March. I only have one lonely Australorp hen, ever since a fox got into our yard through a broken fence slat and slaughtered our other Australorp, our Orpington, and our 5 year old Sex Links still from the original brood. Merle is the last one, and she is very lonely. I am planning on getting 4 chicks: 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 I still haven't decided on.
My problem: Merle was taught by an Americana early on that jumping our fence was okay. I was really miffed, considering the Sex Links NEVER left the yard and could be trusted to be free-range. I got complaints by neighbors and everything. Merle still wanders the neighborhood, but since she's only one, it doesn't seem to bother anyone. She doesn't even roost in the coop, she roosts on the window air conditioning unit in my husbands workshop(which actually saved her life from the fox!). I do not want to teach these new chicks bad lessons. I could make a bigger coop and just keep them in a run (including Merle), but I have always let my girls free-range.
Any suggestions as to how to keep the new ones homebodys and get Merle to be in on the effort?
Thanks and happy to be here!