Few questions re behaviour.

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by skidoo, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. skidoo

    skidoo New Egg

    Jan 13, 2009
    Near Sault Ste Marie
    I'm planning on having some meat birds and a few layers this summer at my fishing lodge. I am on an island, so predators are not a problem...like bears or foxes etc. I do have birds of prey in the area, but they feed on the fish scraps from my fisherman, so hopefully that wont be a problem.

    Edit-My meat birds will be purchased young, I have the option for day-old, 2 weeks old, and 3 weeks (undecided atm). The laying birds will be purchased mature, I am not sure the age but my suppliers tell me they are near ready to lay when purchased. I do not have much info on the breeds of birds etc, still awaiting reply from my supplier.

    Firstly, I see how chickens are often free to roam about outside of any pens or fences. What is the distance that they will go from their coops/pens? If I let my birds loose on my 8 acres, will they get lost in the woods or stay nearby? Do the birds have to be "rounded up" before dark or do they return on their own?

    At what age are birds able to wander on their own outside of the pen?

    In extreme weather such as high wind, heat or rain - can the birds be let out if they have some cover near the coop such as a roof for shade or protection and if I leave the door open so that they can go back inside. Or just leave them inside with food/water?

    I apologize if this info is already on the forums, but I'm super busy getting the lodge ready for this summer.

    Big thanks in advance for any information!
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  2. dustysangel

    dustysangel Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 20, 2009
    I'm going to assume you are taking adult birds out there. Lock them in their coop for the first few weeks so they know where"home" is. Then you could let them roam in the afternoon. This way they are done laying for the day. If you don't keep them penned up some they will get "wild" and will lay anywhere. Just makes it interesting when you want to gather eggs or try to catch them later.Ang
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:Hi skidoo and welcome to BYC!
    As dustysangel already mentioned, you'll want to keep them locked up in their coop for a week or so at first, then you can free-range them. Start by letting them out an hour or so before dusk and increase the time as they prove they know their coop is where to go to roost at night.
    No matter where my chooks roam on our property, they always return to the coop at dusk.
    I started taking mine outside at 2 weeks old on nice days, first with constant supervision and less and less as they grew.
    My birds are let out every day, no matter the weather. They find shelter if it storms.
    They pretty much avoid the heavy woods. Their favorite place to hang out is behind their coop, where there is heavy brush but not really what you would call forest.
    If you want to free range, please consider getting a rooster. A good rooster will protect your hens with everything he's got.
    Good luck to you!
  4. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Some smaller and "flightier" birds will roost in trees rather than going back into the coop, when allowed to free range. At least some of ours did, even when they had been acclimated to the coop for several weeks when young. You can clip a wing to help prevent this, but my point is that this is somewhat breed dependent. Less of a problem with large breeds.
  5. skidoo

    skidoo New Egg

    Jan 13, 2009
    Near Sault Ste Marie
    Thanks for the feedback, answered my questions. Now I know what to expect.

    Between raising chickens first time, and my second year as a gardener, winter cant end soon enough!


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