1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Chicken free ranging? (Calm me down)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by KDOGG331, Feb 26, 2016.

  1. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    So the chickens have only maybe gone out 4 or 5 times including today because I'm terrified.

    They used to just stay next to the run under sone baby pines but now they fly all over and even sometimes venture into the woods.

    But today they looked bored so figured why not. And I'm terrified.

    It's not even so much the predator aspect since it's mid day as much as it's me worried they're going to go into the neighbors or that I won't catch them. But they seem to stsrt to head back at night.

    Maybe if I let them out more I will relax? Or maybe I can set up a fence so they can't go to the neighbors?

    It's annoying too because I wouldn't care if they went in the woods anywhere else, the woods on our property say, but they always head towards the neighbors. And right now I'm in eating yogurt and typing this instead of watching them like i usually do and I'm worried where they're going to be when I check in a second.

    Am I just a worry wart or am I right to be worried?

    Also the neighbors hate our dog or at least hate how he used to go on their property so it's kind of like well what are they going to think of 8 chickens?... you know?

    ALSO. Unrelated but their poo always looks kinda big/weird and today somebody's is runny and yellow-y/brown. What is that? AND they turned down worms. Vents all look fine and all active and whenever I see weird poo I put DE in the coop and run. They were getting a ton of corn and BOSS but haven't at all lately as its warm. Though i have been giving them piles of dirt. But otherwise its layer pellets and water.

    I know this is unrelated so i may make a separate thread.

    They're turning 18 weeks Monday
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Good fences make good neighbors, especially when animals are involved. My neighbors have supported my venture but I'm sure they would prefer if the chickens didn't use their property.

    I don't know how much a ton of corn equates to as a percentage of the total dietary intake but shouldn't be more than 5% regardless of the season.

    How long have they been on layer feed? I assume they aren't laying yet at 18 weeks.
     
  3. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Yeah, I think I should get a good fence up!

    But I actually just had a break through where i went out and they ran to me but i had no food so didn't come close so i came back with food and they gobbled it down. Then i tried calling them and a few looked interested but wouldn't come cause it was open yard so then i had a breakthrough and went in the woods and sure enough, in the woods they followed me all over! And come to the new sound. Happy chickens.

    As for corn and BOSS, it started put a handful of each then quickly turned to multiple handfuls
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  4. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    And they switched to layer a few days shy of 16 weeks cause i was following the bag but have since been told to wait so bought some starter/grower arriving next week
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Commercial birds that are on a lighting program go on a pre-lay diet (2.5% calcium) at about 16 weeks. Then to layer (4% Ca) at 18 weeks but their lighting program ensures they'll all be laying by 20 weeks. Backyard chicken people don't do that and have no idea when laying will commence so it's best to wait till the first egg so avoiding kidney problems.

    I was giving my birds a handful of scratch several times a day till one died. I cut her open and she was so fat you couldn't even see the gizzard or other organs because they were encased in fat. I realized I hadn't kept good track of how much they were getting. The rest of my flocks were immediately put on a diet of just chicken feed.
     
  6. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    That makes sense! I thought it was just cause they were mostly hybeids, hadn't realized they also had a special lighting program. But yeah, I made a thread about how they wouldnt eat (they do now) and was told about the kidney rhing and it terrified me. In fact i wished i had ordered the food earlier in the week so it would be here by now. But ah well. Ordered it Wednesday and just got notice it shipped today. By UPS. It's 40 pounds though which is probably too much but the other on this site was like 10 pounds. Ah well, i can always save it for future chicks. I'm going to keep them on it until either 20 weeks or the first egg. It's nutrena naturewise starter/grower. Their old stuff was agway. Pellets i think are country farm but not sure.

    Got the new stuff from Mills Fleet Farm.

    Got some extra stuff too.

    This is everything. .
    [​IMG]
     
  7. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts

    Wow really? That's awful, sorry :( I better slow down then! I haven't given it to them in maybe a couple weeks now except maybe a tiny bit but i was giving them a lot. And i did give them some BOSS and bread in the woods today for following me. But I better skow on the cracked corn and not buy official scratch. I think it will be a winter treat only and even then only give them a little bit. For now I'll keep them on the chicken feed.

    Also, does that include no free ranging either or just no excessive treats from me? At least the free ranging they are getting exercise while doing it.

    They seem so happy too. They're sun bathing now
     
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    It's just the extra treats.
    Free ranging is good, especially when things are actively growing. I don't imagine they're finding many bugs now but they may be finding some dormant things in the leaf mold in the woods.
    This time of year, they're not finding anything that will make up a significant portion of the diet.
    For scratch in summer, I just use a little oat groats. In winter, it's wheat, barley and BOSS. But still not much.

    Free ranging will allow them to take dust baths which is very good for chickens.
     
  9. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

    21,485
    2,431
    466
    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    You can feed the starter even after they are laying as long as you're providing oyster shell in a separate container.

    I keep a dish of oyster shell with each flock, either by the feeder or by the nests. When most are laying, I will usually mix grower and layer 50:50 because I have roosters with each flock too.

    Don't you have any feed stores nearby? Shipping must be expensive for that.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  10. KDOGG331

    KDOGG331 Overrun With Chickens

    8,530
    441
    376
    Jan 18, 2008
    Massachusetts
    Ahh okay.

    Yeah, I'm not sure what they're finding but it's been warm lately. Almost 60 the other day with heavy winds and later, rain/thunder storms, yesterday was maybe 50, and today is near 40. So maybe some stuff came up unseasonably early. Very very weird winter for us. We've had hardly any cold days.

    They're scaratching around in the leaves and near logs.

    Now they have been sunbathing in the same exact spot, just laying there, like 20 minutes.

    Here's some pictures from earlier when they were following me. And I didn't get good pictures cause when the phone came out they ran but May (the barred rock) and one Orpington kept coming really close and pecking at my shoe/foraging near me.

    And i take it back, now they're foraging again haha
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by