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Chickens in the yard

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Yard full o' rocks, Apr 10, 2009.

  1. Ok...CRAZY question I know, but please be patient with me. We recently had coyotes tear into our pen and kill the 5 chickens and one rooster we had. I have rebuilt the pen, added a 6x8 coop and reinforced everything I can. NOW....I would like to let my chickens out of their run, at least occasionally when I am outside. The coop is right next to approx 1/2 acre "plot" we plant to feed/watch the deer...a great place I would think for them to forage. My boys are afraid that if I let them out, that they won't come back. We have had then now for 4-6 weeks. 4 of the 8 hens are laying and I have one rooster (all Buff Orpingtons BTW). Can anyone tell me if its ok to let them out occasionally and how to get them to "come home"?? I think it would be neat to let them roam a little since we have almost 20 acres. Thank you for indulging a "neophyte"....sorry if this sounded silly, but I do appreciate any help or advise. PS - first batch of eggs (14) in the incubator...keep your fingers crossed for me. HAPPY EASTER everyone.

  2. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    It's a good idea to "train" them to some sounds that means "treats" to them. I use a plastic feed scoop & put a bit of scratch in it, and sorta jostle it around...they hear that sound, and come running. If you begin doing this while they are run-bound for a week or so, they'll soon learn to equate that sound with yummy treats.

    Then, when you begin letting them out, let them out about an hour before the time they typically go to the coop to roost. They are creatures of habit, and will come home to go to "bed" when it's time. I'd leave the door to the run closed until it's time for bed, then I'd prop it open & go in with your feed scoop (or whatever) and call them. I'm sure you won't have a problem!
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    If your chickens have been living in their coop for awhile, that's usually where they want to return to roost at night.
    To be sure they do return at dusk, try letting them out just an hour or two before it starts to get dark. You can increase the time to earlier and earlier in the day as they prove they know that the coop is home.
  4. My run is 4 feet high, I let them out regularly to forage. I use the scratch in the feed scoop mentioned in another post to call them. The other night we left them out when we went to a baseball game. When we returned four of them had flown back in the run then went into to coop to roost and the other two were laying beside the back door to the door. They will learn where home is in a short amount of time and return every evening.
  5. animal nut

    animal nut Songster

    Sep 11, 2008
    S. E Ohio
    Mine have learned to put themselves to roost when they are ready. All I have to do is close the coop door. Good luck!!!!
  6. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    I only allow the hens out when someone is there to watch them. They might be out 2 or 3 times a day but only for an hour or so at a time.

    They always get a treat when returned to their coop - always. Sometimes, the treat amounts to very little but as long as they get a few mouthfuls, they don't seem to mind scurrying in and waiting to see what I've got for them. Treats are only served in their coop.

    About the only problem I have with this is when they think I have something and I'm stumbling over hens trying to move around the backyard. But, they usually figure out the path I'm taking isn't towards their home and go back to their dustbath or foraging.

    You really only need to give them a few times out each day to make them happy. And, don't let them out every time you walk thru the backyard or they will pester you. I usually try to find a time when they are not making noise to open the door - figure I'm re-enforcing patience.


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