Allowing cooped chickens to free range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by jklyles1, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. jklyles1

    jklyles1 Songster

    Jan 21, 2013
    I have three 6-8 mth old chickens that have pretty much stayed in their coop and run since i got them 2 mths ago. One just started laying. I want to let them free range around the yard. 2 questions:

    1. Will they go back to their coop when it starts getting dark?
    2. Will the hen go back to the nesting box to lay?

    I dont want to chase them and i dont want to go on an egg hunt! I did let them out for an hour yesterday and they mainly stayed near the run.

    Thank you in advance,

    Nervous Mama Hen

  2. Judy

    Judy Crowing Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    They should do both. At least mine did when they changed from fenced to free range.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana


    You are dealing with living animals so we can’t give you any guarantees, but they should. You can have a hick-up though.

    It’s possible that they won’t go back inside. Yours should be roosting and should return to their normal roosts, but they might find some other place to roost. If they do, it should be real close to the coop, like maybe on top. If they were not yet roosting, they could gather near the door on the ground. Again, they should go back in the coop.

    Something that has happened to mine a few times. Chickens are not real clear on the concept of “gate”. Even though they may have gone through the gate a few times during the day for food or water or to lay eggs, I’ve had them get on the wrong side of the run when it is time to go to bed. They obviously desperately want to get to the coop, but the run fence is in the way. They don’t know enough to go around to the gate they have used all day long. I always watch them about dark to see how it is going the first time or two I let them out. Occasionally I have to herd them around to the gate. They catch on after one or two nights of doing this. And it is not all of them, just occasionally a few.

    Same thing with laying in the nest. They should go back to where they are used to laying and practically always do if they can find their way.
  4. Bmmjz Chicks

    Bmmjz Chicks In the Brooder

    Another recommendation is to make sure the door or gate stays open when it gets dark. I had mine blow closed before dark and I had to hunt for chickens in the dark. It's not easy!
  5. acemario

    acemario Songster

    Mar 22, 2012
    Northern Utah
    I second the other responses. My three hens have done great, excpet one night my ameraucauna decided to roost 10 ft up a pine-tree. We couldn't find her until the next day... She couldn't get down!!! haha.

  6. mo puff

    mo puff In the Brooder

    Sep 14, 2011
    yes, they will go back to the coop on their own at dusk. and yes, they will return to the nest box to lay... once they all start laying. Arent they GREAT!
  7. jak2002003

    jak2002003 Crowing

    Oct 24, 2009
    Good advise from everyone.

    I will add that you should keep the food and water in the coop - or run all the time, not outside. Then they will go back in toe eat and drink and not range too far away.
  8. Johnn

    Johnn Crowing

    Sep 5, 2011
    Mine have been completley free range the whole time ive had them, one sleeps in the trees in summer, 2 lay out side but the rest all go to the shed at night, and lay in the shed :) heres a hidden nest i found:


  9. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Crowing

    Apr 8, 2008

    If your hens are the adventurous type and they start to want to roost or lay outside of the coop after a while, then lock them back in for a week to remind them. Then they'll be OK for a while again.

  10. mo puff

    mo puff In the Brooder

    Sep 14, 2011
    the gate thing is hereditary to chickens i thnk! LOL, doesnt matter how many times they have gone through the gate, if they end up on the wrong side of the run... they just get so turned around and cant seem to figure it out! I keep saying, "silly chicken , the gate is on the other side, how many times have you done this?"

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