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Couch Potato Pullets

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Pony Trotsky, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Pony Trotsky

    Pony Trotsky Out Of The Brooder

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    May 24, 2011
    Okay.

    I've had 3 pullets for about three weeks, and they're still reluctant to go outside. I very much want to have good old-fashion free ranging chickens, and I need expert advice!

    [​IMG]

    Here's the backstory: I bought these 3 at 10/11 weeks, from a Chicken Guy who keeps a gazillion birds in a gigantic old horse barn. The birds are kept in large horse stalls, each age and gender separate. I didn't see any perches, and the birds seemed very crowded. The stalls had no windows, and were rather dark, though not dirty or stinky.

    So. They're now 13/14 weeks old, and have a small (4 x 7) coop in my own horse barn. This barn is smaller, sunnier and breezier by far, and at first they were afraid of absolutely everything; they tended to huddle in a dark corner of the coop, and it was most distressing. That only lasted a few days, though, and now they're happy to leave the coop in the morning, and dash up and down the barn aisle like madmen. They're no longer afraid of horses, humans or barn cats, and are actually developing a certain amount of 'tude. They even have a self-appointed feline protector named Porridge, who sticks to them like glue. (It's very cute. He looks just like a Buff Orpington.)

    Anyhow, in most ways these girls act just like normal, healthy chickens - except that they're afraid to leave the barn on their own. They'll stay out so long as I'm actually sitting there, and eat grass and bags and stuff, but they run back into the barn as soon as I leave. This means that they're in the barn most of the time - and that I have to clean chicken poop off the floor 247 times a day. This is not a good thing! I don't want them pooping in the horses stalls, or pooping on the hay. I want them OUTSIDE!

    So, what should I do? Should I close them out of the barn? Should I move their food further from the barn door? Will they get braver over time, or are they too old to learn new ways?

    Help!
     
  2. emys

    emys Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    Idaho
    They will get braver over time! Have you thought about getting them a rooster, that would speed the roaming process.
     
  3. BetterHensandGardens

    BetterHensandGardens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Clinton, OH
    They will learn to roam - we have a group of Red Comets that matured last fall, and a group of Buckeyes that matured very early this spring. The later maturing Buckeyes were raised in the barn, and after being put in the coop, didn't range very far at first. The Red Comets on the other hand, had learned to range over the entire pasture last fall. The Buckeyes are slowly starting to range further, but they still don't range as far as the older birds. Maybe you could encourage them by feeding them treats outdoors?
     
  4. karimw

    karimw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 7, 2010
    Eastern IA
    I have a group hatched out September of last year so they pretty much spent the winter inside the coop. It took them a LONG time to get up the nerve to go out in the spring and some still don't spend much time out side. I do feed them scratch outside so that helped lure them out. Now the group I hatched in March won't come IN! That's a much tougher problem to deal with [​IMG]
     
  5. Pony Trotsky

    Pony Trotsky Out Of The Brooder

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    May 24, 2011
    Thank you! You all are actually giving me some hope here.

    [​IMG]

    Right now I'm feeding AM snacks immediately outside the door, and they'll come out and eat from a bowl so long as I stay with them. If I leave, they won't come out at all - even if it's cantaloupe or diced meat, their all-time favorite things so far.

    Do you suppose they think I'm their mother?
     

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