I have 6 hens (age 8 weeks) and a rooster (age 12 weeks). They have been in their coop with an attached run for a few weeks. I am letting them out to free range during the day when I am home (keeping their run door propped open), with the intent of letting them free range most of the time. They are not going far and have to return to the run for food. The trouble is that they try to go back in the run to eat and they aren't finding the door back in. Then they get panicked and start freaking out. My coop/run is designed so that the coop is at the back of the run (off the ground) the food and water hanging under the coop and the door in/out of the run is on the opposite end. Well, the chickens make a bee line from the yard to the food/water but not by way of the door. They just end up on the backside of the run pacing furiously, trying to find a way though the wire to get to the food that is right in front of them. Even more stressful for them is when a couple DO make it in and the rest can't figure out how to get to them. I keep having to walk behind them and push them along the parameter to the front... Where they find the opening and run frantically excited to have found their way. I really don't want to have to stay close by all the time to show them in. Does anyone have any tricks on how to teach a chicken to look for a door or will they eventually just start remembering??!?!
Confused and panicky chickens...
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They are babies still - they have the general idea of returning home but not the step-by-step process of *how* to do that -- this is where the mother hen or established flock members would be showing them the way, and where, in that absence, we must do so. It won't take long and they'll have the idea.
That makes sense! I figured as much, I just feel like a new mom that is merely fumbling her way though. Learning as I go and hoping to not screw things up too bad. :) I will keep lovingly nudging them back in the right direction and hope that they get it after awhile. Thanks for the words of wisdom!