Do you let free range chickens out of their tractor and put them back?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by infinitijeff, Aug 2, 2010.

  1. infinitijeff

    infinitijeff In the Brooder

    Aug 2, 2010
    Put them back at night, that is. My wife suggested it, but I'm worried. Bought the tractor that came with 3 hens(1 RIR and 2 RIR mixed). I tried introducing a 3-4 month old full blooded RIR into the tractor, but the head hen had him on his side trying to peck the daylights out of him. I have since put a division between the rooster and the hens( these are some big girls). They can see each other and there is at least one of the hens trys to peck through the fence at times. She knows she can't, but letting him know she is in charge. The rooster will now putting weight on since he left his large family. Should I wait a few months to reintroduce him when he's bigger? I'm also worried that if I let them out, I may lose them (can't get them back in). I have had the tractor and hens 3 nights and the rooster with his seperate area 2 nights. I have also gotten four eggs so far. Isn't that kind of slow? I'm giving them plenty of pellets, corn & oyster shells(?). What is your experience?

    Sorry for three questions at once, Just trying to get up and running.[​IMG]

  2. elmo

    elmo Songster

    May 23, 2009
    Quote:Usually, it's best not to put younger chickens in with adults until they're about the same size. As you have seen already, the young rooster will be put in his place by a mature hen. What you're doing right now is good. They can get used to each other safely this way, so when the roo is full grown and able to defend himself you can integrate him with the flock. How big is your tractor? The usual rule of thumb is 4 square feet per bird of indoor (coop) space, plus 10 square feet of outdoor space per chicken. You might see more problems with pecking if your birds have less space than this.

    I move my flock between several daytime tractors and stationary coop/runs every day with no problem whatsoever, but I raised my chickens from hatch and they're very used to my fenced yard and this routine. If your birds are new, give them a few weeks to get used to their new home before you let them out. That way, you're more likely to be able to get them back to their housing when you want them to go. Also let them get used to you: train them to associate you with treats. You could try cutting fresh corn off the cob and offering it to them in a special dish. Before long, they will associate you and that dish with goodies, and even come when you call them (mostly).

    Four eggs from there how many days? Do you know how old the hens are? Older hens don't lay as frequently or steadily than younger ones. Additionally, a change in their surroundings will often make hens stop laying entirely, and it sometimes takes them a while after they move from one home to another to get back to their laying routine again. For optimal egg production, treats (including corn, scratch, etc.) should be less than around 10-15 percent of diet. The bulk of the hen's diet should be layer feed if you want the most eggs.

    Welcome to the forum!
  3. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    I have to agree with elmo. I have my four hens in a tractor and I waited a couple of weeks before letting them out. In fact when I did start letting them out they were hesitant to go out. It took a couple more weeks for them to go out on their own. Now, when I get home from work, I open the coop door and let them go. They run around and chase grasshoppers for a few hours and then they usually go back in to the coop on their own. On occasion I might have to round them up if they are not ready since I am locking them up before it is getting dark. From what I understand, they will go back on their own to roost once it starts getting dark. Right now I don't have the courage to let them free range all day when I am gone at work. I might let them once they get full sized since their run is not all that big. Hope this helps!

    BTW [​IMG]
  4. fratermus

    fratermus In the Brooder

    May 1, 2010
    Point, Rains county, Tx
    My 10wo pullets stay in the tractor in the daytime, and we let them out to range about an hour before dusk. They run around the yard then generally run back into the tractor as the sun gets lower. I just close the door. Sometimes one (generally the most skittish EE) will need a little shepherding but about 75% of the time they just walk in.

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