Chickens with wanderlust.....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by joskt0204, Aug 7, 2011.

  1. joskt0204

    joskt0204 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2011
    east TN
    I have four hens (well, pullets really) who are 20 weeks old. They are in a chicken tractor at night and free range from about 7 a.m. until dark, when they put themselves to bed, and I shut them in. In the last 7-10 days, three of the four have wandered off and spent an entire night outside the coop. One of them had accidentally (I assume) ended up in the neighborhood behind us (about 250' through the woods from our little farm) in a chain link fence with two dogs who were fortunately not interested in her at all. One wandered about 400' in the other direction and lived with my horses for a day and a half until we finally got her rounded up and moved back over here. Last night, a third was missing when I went to close up the chicken tractor. We looked for her as well we could in the dark, and she was out there this morning acting completely normal. (I didn't close up the tractor since she was gone last night, even when I checked at midnight.)

    Is this normal? I find it weird that they are wandering off one at a time. I think they are relatively safe out there, because our dogs keep the wild critters a reasonable distance from our property. With the first missing chicken, I totally panicked, but I'm getting calmer at this point.
  2. CheekyChooks

    CheekyChooks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 22, 2011
    My chickens love a good wander. Could you put a fence for them?
  3. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Chillin' With My Peeps

    That evening bed-time check is the BEST thing with my rooster! Once the sun starts setting, Roo marches all the girls to the coop.Once it's dark,my hubby goes out & locks the door.
    We have one broody hen, she is refusing to go inside the coop at night. Her nestbox is under our truck tailgate~beside the coop![​IMG]
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2011
  4. Hummingbird Hollow

    Hummingbird Hollow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2011
    Colorado mountains
    Are your pullets laying? Could they be at the age where they are looking for a safe, quiet place to lay an egg?
  5. scratch'n'peck

    scratch'n'peck Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 31, 2008
    West Michigan
    My Coop
    Pullets may have the tendency to not put themselves to bed as well as older chickens. My chickens tend to stay together or except maybe for 1 or 2 who stay near the coop. I wonder if something spooked your pullets and they ran in different directions. At dusk they find a fairly safe place to settle and come back in the morning. I would still close the chicken tractor because chickens have terrible night vision, so they aren't going to be wandering back to the coop once it is fully dark.

    My rooster will make sure the hens don't wander too far when free ranging and makes sure they come roost in the coop in the evening.
  6. joskt0204

    joskt0204 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2011
    east TN
    They haven't laid yet, as far as I know. They spend most of the day in the woods, so it's possible there are eggs back there, and we aren't finding them.

    They were all out pecking around together peacefully at about 8 last night, and it was a little after 9 when I discovered her missing. I haven't ever seen anything spook them, but that doesn't mean it hasn't happened repeatedly.

    We are having record breaking heat, so I hate to lock them up in the chicken tractor during the day. It's much nicer in the woods.
  7. woody1

    woody1 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 8, 2010
    Just North of the PRK
    My chickens will NOT stay out in the hot sun by choice. Do they have any shade near the coop (tractor)? If not, I suspect they are hunting shade. Regards, Woody
  8. joskt0204

    joskt0204 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2011
    east TN
    The tractor is under a tree, and maybe 20' from the woods.
  9. joskt0204

    joskt0204 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2011
    east TN
    Too funny - I just went out to "tuck them in" for the night, and I found my wandering chicken.....roosting in the tree over the coop.
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Such a small flock of females only may be a result of a few posibilities. Extremely poor forage quality which egg production does not indicate. An animal of some sort dispersed flock and they were unable to regroup. Another possibility is quest for male. My game hens when not with a male will disperse a 1/4 mile or better to get to a crowing male's location.

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