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Can I free range them yet?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by porkchop48, Aug 8, 2011.

  1. porkchop48

    porkchop48 Songster

    Jun 1, 2008
    Malta, OH
    The "rescued" flock that I have now has been cooped up in a pen for a little over a week.

    When is it possible to start free ranging them? They follow me around in a line while I am in the runw ith them but not sure what will happen if I let them out.

    I feed them in their coop/ run only will that be enough to make them come back or will the excitment of being out be too much and they will never come back?

    I also have a 5 month old pup that is not fazed by them one bit through the pen but I have a feeling he might try to play with them on the outside. And then the 5 barn cats. should I even risk it? Of course I will be with them when I first let them out. I feel like such a newb again. [​IMG]

  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Good question. There is always a risk with living animals. You can never know for sure how they will react. After a week I'd take the chance though. They will almost certainly not run away, unless they get chased by the dog or something like that, but they might not automatically go back in the coop at night. If they are used to sleeping in there, they probably will, a week should be long enough, but ?????

    If the chickens are pretty well grown, the barn cats are probably not much of a threat, but if they are still chicks, those cats could be a danger.

    I'd probably start by letting them out about an hour before their bedtime and see what happens. And definitely stay with them. There is not only the risk from the pup, but if they don't go back in on their own, you need to know where they are sleeping so you can put them away. You probably know they may wait until almost dark to go back in. That part can get frustrating so you have to have patience.

    One thing that almost always happens to me the first time I let my brooder raised chicks out. They want to go back in the coop at bedtime, but a few cannot figure out how. They are desperately pacing the fence, looking longingly at the coop, but they have no concept of gate. They may have gone back and forth through the gate a few times during the day, but at bedtime, they forget all about it. I have to guide them to the gate so they can go in. Out of 20 chicks, it might be 2 or 3 that have this problem. One year, I had to help a group in two nights straight before they got it on their own. The second night I did that, as she was guided through the gate, a Buff Orp looked back over her shoulder at me as if to say, "That took you long enough!"
  3. ll

    ll Songster

    Do it - make sure you have the time for 100% supervision and have a chair ready for relaxing.

    When it comes time to go in, you may need help to herd them towards the door.
    You can use a long beach towel to "guide them" by holding it to your arm's reach and low to the ground, or a length of chicken wire ~

    Keep the dog in the house, at least for the first outing.

    good luck!
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2011

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