First free-range experience

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by mradam, Nov 10, 2008.

  1. mradam

    mradam Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 5, 2008
    Eastern Missouri
    I finally let go of my fears and opened the run door last night. The chickens exploded out of the run for their first time ever, and made it about 7 feet out before they realized they were walking past lots of tasty grass and bugs. It's awesome just watching them free-range... digging, scratching, and pecking away.

    What I didn't plan on was rounding them back up at dark. I had read that chickens instinctively return home to their coop as it gets dark. Well, my chickens may not have that instinct yet. They stayed out until quite a while after their normal bedtime, walking around and exploring. I don't know if they were just thrilled to be out and free, or confused about where to go, but I had to round them up and herd them back home.

    Tonight they were not so keen on the idea of being herded. They wouldn't go where I was willing them to go. Finally, after trying to reason with them, then bribe them, and then play follow-the-leader into the run, I found a swimming noodle in the yard. At the first sight of that 4 foot blue foam noodle waving around at them they high-tailed it to the run, and FAST!... wings flapping and all.

    Hopefully I don't have to scare them into their run every night, but I do plan on keeping that noodle handy for the time being.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008
  2. baldie

    baldie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 25, 2008
    Douglas, MA
    LOL!!! Thank goodness for noodles!!! Whatever works, right! They must have been loving that freedom!! Good for you !!
  3. kaylakala

    kaylakala Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 19, 2008
    Melbourne Florida
    I just LOVE watching them in the yard!
  4. notsooldmcdonald

    notsooldmcdonald Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 14, 2008
    Lempster, NH
    I had a similar experience, sans blue noodle but similar none the less [​IMG]

    They've gotten better, but I still stand there and sweat as the minutes tick by and I haven't gotten them all in. Generally, there are four or so girls who just can't seem to figure out how to make their way into the pen and then into the coop.

    Good luck!
    P.S.- I bribe mine with shelled sunflower seed.
  5. conroy

    conroy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2008
    I love watching them free range as's fun, relaxing and you learn alot about each ones personality,,
  6. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    You get to see their true chicken personalities and characteristics come out when they are allowed to free range. You can just see how much fun they are having and how happy they are.

    As far as getting back in coop, are you waiting till dark? They will normally put themselves in just before dark but mine won't go in a minute before.
  7. ~SunSetsWest~

    ~SunSetsWest~ Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 20, 2008
    Central, Fl.
    Relax! They will figure things out, it's all so new, like country folk in the city [​IMG] They'll be coming in on there own before you know it..
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    If you wait until dusk it shouldn't take too many nights of herding them with the evil noodle for them to get the idea. With mine it was the evil broom. [​IMG]
  9. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    It's always handy to have your chickens trained to come at your signal. The easiest is to rattle some scratch or seeds in a can.

    Most chickens will return to their roosts at nightfall, but there are always some individuals who will insist on finding their own bunks in a tree or on a rafter.

    I keep my laying flock in their coop until about 2 PM, so they'll lay in their nest boxes, and then let them out into the yard. They all do come in to their coops at nightfall all by themselves.
  10. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    I bribed mine with treats. I started giving them some of their favorite treats in their coop in the eves and now they go in every eve with no evening treats any more. I tapered off the treats and would skip a night then two etc.
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2008

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