afraid to let chicks free range!!!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by usalbrechts, Aug 1, 2007.

  1. usalbrechts

    usalbrechts Songster

    May 22, 2007
    south east MI
    I just read one more thread about free ranging the chicks and how good it is for them. I am going to be humble here and admit that I am afraid to let my chickens out of their run!!! They are about 4 weeks from laying. Our property (2.5 acres)was basicly all woodland, lots of cedar trees and big shrubs and such. We basicly tore down trees in the middle, built a house and made a big lawn around the house. Where we stop cutting the lawn is where the woods begin. The lawn is cut infront of the coop where the run is, but behind the coop and to both sides is woods. I am afraid if I let them out of the run they will be off in the woods and either not come back or a dog or some kind of predator will kill them. Do you think they would stay where our lawn is cut short, or will they wander off where I can't see them while I hope they come back by bed time????? This is my first experience with chicks (we have 12). I know I am probably a bit nurotic!!!!
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    They will wander and go into the woods but if you have kept them in the coop all of this time they know it is home and will vome home at night to roost. Yes, free ranging would make it possible for a preditor to get them as well.
  3. well our property sounds alot like yours except only 1 acre in size. We started to let our chicken out into a run at first just to make sure they knew how to come back in at night and had no problem with them putting themselves to bed at night. After a few weeks of them being in the run we took that down and they now have access to a fenced in parcel of land we have our goats in. Half is woods and half is grass and they DEFINATELY go in the woods. They love to scratch through the leaf litter and like the cover of the trees, which I think makes them feel safe. Our chickens are not truly free range since their is a fence(1/3 acre), but it is only a 4 ft fence and some can fly over but they always stay close and try to get back into the fence with the other. I doubt they would go very far away even without the fence, they won't go far from food and water. Maybe you can do a rotation with them.. half in the run and half out. They will definately stay close if the other half are in the run, you can switch who gets to free range the next day. Just an idea.

  4. sunnychooks

    sunnychooks Songster

    Jul 21, 2007
    The first time you let them out do it in the late afternoon. They'll get only a few hours to free range and when it gets dark they'll come back to the coop to roost. Once you see that they come home at night you won't be so worried!!!

    Mine also like to go into the woods. Lots of good bugs there!
    1 person likes this.
  5. RioLindoAz

    RioLindoAz Sleeping

    Jul 8, 2007
    Yuma, Arizona
    I am sure they will come home at sundown and I would start to put nesting boxes in the coop before they get in th habbit of laying somewere else [​IMG]
  6. usalbrechts

    usalbrechts Songster

    May 22, 2007
    south east MI
    That is a good reminder about nesting boxes. We are about to get those in this weekend so I will wait until they are in for sure. I am feeling braver today so thanks!!!
  7. I was nervous about the free ranging as well. The ‘let them out late in the day’ advice is excellent. The first few days ours came out they only had an hour before sunset. That slowly (I mean slowly!) lengthened to three or four. Ours are 15 weeks and we just started letting them out all day.

    When we first let them out we called them to the porch and gave them a treat (a handful of oats for six) and they still get a treat there every day. We also keep extra food and water on the porch. The result has been that they spend a lot of time around the porch.

    For now that is exactly what we want. They do free range (no fences—open land) but they are usually in view.

    All that being said, our Turken got bit by a rattlesnake right near the porch two days ago. I guess if ya have chickens ya have to be ready for that kind of stuff. [​IMG]

    Good luck!
  8. GAhen

    GAhen Songster

    Aug 2, 2007
    Carrollton GA
    I am new to the forum, and I am thrilled to see there are people like me here!

    I was fearful too, about letting my chickens out of the coop, and I still do not let them out everyday, but I do let them have free range at least four times a week.
    My pullets usually follow me back to the coop after several hours of foraging.
    They are a few weeks from laying...I am so excited.
    They are so happy to be out and about....I hate to make them stay "cooped" up all the time. It:D is also fun to watch them catching bugs and scratching around at the edge of the woods.
  9. chickbea

    chickbea Songster

    Jan 18, 2007
    There is nothing wrong with being nervous - it makes us more diligent!
    However, nothing is cuter than when I get home from work and let all the girls out of the pen to play in the yard. It's a mad dash - they are so happy!
    Something also to consider - if you are a gardener, chickens love to make messes in the garden. The more expensive or tender the plants are, the bigger the mess they will make! [​IMG]
  10. chicknmania

    chicknmania Crowing

    Jan 26, 2007
    central Ohio
    Our property is the same as yours. Our chickens free range and have for two years. In my opinion free range chickens are happier, healthier, lay better quality eggs, cheaper to keep, and are far more entertaining then chickens in a pen. Yes, they go in the woods; that's where it's coolest and the good stuff to eat is. But there are not predators around every tree stump waiting to eat them, either. If a predator really wants to eat your chickens, even if you have them in Ft Knox, they're going to find a way in at some point, and eat them anyway. We have lost more chickens due to predators in our barn then outside. Get a couple roosters or older experienced hens. They'll be fine, and you'll see how well they can take care of themselves. If you're worried about them not coming back, just keep them in the pen or the area they're going to roost in for a week or two...they'll come back.

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