Coop, Run, and Free Range

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by CountryCentinel, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. CountryCentinel

    CountryCentinel Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2011
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    Hi Guys,

    So we have the 6 week old girls in their new digs (coop) and they seem content enough.

    We live in northern Idaho, and the temps are routinely in the teens at night and in the 20's during the day.

    The coop stays warm enough and I have them on a brooder light at night for now till they accustom themselves.

    I did not build them a run, as I want to free range them during the days, but how does one start that process?

    Do I just let them out and hope for the best?

    Will they just hang around the coop, property?

    And how does one round them up and get them in the coop at night?

    Just call them...?

    Should I just leave them in their coop until spring?

    Thx as always!!!

    ...and Happy Holidays everyone!
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    When it is time to let them out, I just open the door and let them decide when to go out. I've had some that were outside within 15 minutes. I've had some that took about a week to decide to risk going outside.

    When they first go outside, they tend to hang around a familiar area but eventually they build up the confidence to explore.

    If they are used to sleeping in the coop, at bedtime they will return to the coop on their own. That is not usually the problem. With mine, I sometimes have to help them the first night or two. A couple of different things occasionally happen.

    They don't have a real good grasp of the concept of gate. If you don't have a run, you probably won't see this, but although they go in and out of the gate to my run several times a day, at night they can get stuck on the side away from the gate and can't figure out how to get to the coop. They desperately want to get to the coop, but the fence is in the way. Most do OK, but I often have to sort of herd a couple of them around to the gate for a night or two. Eventually they get it.

    On a rare occasion, some or all will pile up near the door but not go inside. There can be different reasons for this. If you see this, just toss them inside and lock them up, then get back on here and we can further discuss it. Right after dark they will be real easy to catch. They will just lay there until you catch each one and toss them inside.
     
  3. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I have no run at all, just a fence around the property. Mine all go back to the coop at night.

    What I do have that is interesting (to me) is a small group of Brahmas which have only recently started coing out of the coop at all. These birds are at least five months old. The coop, however, is a transmorgrified garage, 17 X20, so there's plenty of room for them inside.

    The Brahmas are very meek birds, especially interesting due to their size. BIG birds! Now that they've started to investigate the area closest to the coop, I feel better about them. Didn't particulary want to deal with socially retarded chickens! [​IMG]

    The rest of the flock is all over the property. Everybody, even the ducks and geese return to the coop on their own at dusk. The Brahmas are inside again long before the others come in for the night.
     
  4. CountryCentinel

    CountryCentinel Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 14, 2011
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    Great info, just what I was needing to hear, thx.

    So do they range in winter, on snow?

    I could see they could range around the edges, under trees, sides of buildings, under stuff...

    If I open the small chicken hatch on the side of the coop on days that it is in the 30's or 20's, is that okay?

    Thx again!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

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    Northwest Arkansas
    I give mine the option of whether to come out or not regardless of weather. It was about 4 degrees Fahrenheit when I took this photo. You can see what they chose.

    [​IMG]

    Mine do not like wind at all in the winter. In the hot weather they don't seem to mind wind nearly as much.

    Chickens generally don't like change or anything new. Mine don't like snow the first time they see it. Some never learn to like it while others will eventually get used to it and go out to forage as long as the grass and weeds are sticking up where they can get to the seeds. I even had some trudge through 9" of snow last year to check out the compost heap. But some never waded in it at all, and none went out in it the first time they saw it.
     
  6. claudicles

    claudicles Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 26, 2011
    Sydney, Australia
    If you are going to want them to come in at some time other than when it gets dark you can train them to. Say you only want them free rangin when you are home and locked up when you are not. A predictable container with treats to lure them in will do the trick. For a while you'll have to spend some time teaching thme the treats come from the container... sprinkle it in front of them in a path to the door. A particular call "chook chook chook" or something also helps. With time just the call or the treat bucket will work. You need to treat most of the time or they will get wise. It is nice to train them with treats to come to your voice anyway.
     

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