First time letting my chickens free range. HELP!

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Montgirl, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. Montgirl

    Montgirl Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 7, 2013
    Hi Everyone! Newbie here! My chickens are all about 15 weeks, and they have a big coop/Run but after reading so much on BYC I decided I would let them free range for a few hours each day (I would love to give them more time but my dogs are crated while the girls enjoy the day) Sooooo, I just opened up the coop and let them out! I'm a nervous wreck, will they stay close? How can I get them back in? It's a beautiful day here in southern Ca and we are on 10 fenced in acres. Nervous newbie here! Any advice for me?
  2. Amy Sue

    Amy Sue Out Of The Brooder

    Nov 7, 2013
    somehow the chickens always just know to stay close- ive had mine free range on a 2 acre lot- and there are no fences- they never stray- they never cross the road, they never go into the neighbors yard or garden, and they never- well i wont say never- they RARELY dont go into the coop on their own at night. If something has spooked them, they try to roost in the carport for the evening, and i have to carry them home.. lol
    Something as big as 10 acres, my parents always had a hearding dog- or if you have a rooster, that fella knows how to get his chicks in for the night!
    im anxious to see what kinds of answers you get- i would love to learn some large free ranging secrets! :)
  3. charlie14

    charlie14 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 16, 2013
    Kerhonkson NY
    They will always come back if you wave a piece of bread and call them. I find my chickens pretty much only go where people go and no farther.
  4. ChickenGirl22

    ChickenGirl22 Out Of The Brooder

    Jul 23, 2012
    Hello! We free range our flocks too. Usually they'll stick around their pens, but if they get a bit too far away we usually take some treats out to them and give the bowl a little shake so they'll come running back. Also, you might want to get a net or something to help herd them back into the pen on those days when it's too nice outside or they're just feeling a little rebellious. Hope I could help and have fun free ranging!
    1 person likes this.
  5. Montgirl

    Montgirl Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 7, 2013
    Great advice thank you guys! Now do you let your chickens free range when your not home? I'm worried about hawks, coyotes and neighbor dogs. We do have a few neighbor dogs who have dug under our fence and like to hang out with us :) and of course the coyotes can jump right over.
  6. IttyBiddyRedHen

    IttyBiddyRedHen Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 30, 2011
    East coast
    We have dogs, foxes and hawks to worry about ours free ranging. But I have learned to work with the predator schedules, for the most part. The neighbor dogs have attacked mostly in the early morning...between 2am and 8am. Then, they go do what dogs and then sleep all day. The foxes hunt about the same times. Rarely do I see either after 9am.
    The hawks seem to prefer the hours during daylight..but haven't been around every day.
    So, I let mine out between 11am-to maybe 4pm. Sometimes they want to forage, sometimes they don't. If the hawks are active, they don't.
    I try to let them out so I can monitor for predators, although I am not out there constantly.
    I also keep them in, or put them up, if I need to go to town etc. At least I know they are safe that way.
    Now, next door, her flock just jumps over her fence to free range. But the neighbor dogs don't bother her birds. They have lost birds to hawks and foxes though.
    To get them back in....don't overfeed. Let the birds find what they can while they are out...then call them back to the pen with the feed. If they are hungry enough, they will want to go to the pen to eat. Mine do. I give mine fermented feed in the evenings, and they come running. They think they are so hungry..even after free ranging and having full crops.
    Or, try using that scratch or slice of bread. If they think the others will get all of the treats and they won't, they will come running to make sure they get a bite.
  7. Beulah89

    Beulah89 Chillin' With My Peeps

    I was worried mine would fly the fence but they seem content in the yard. I have no trouble getting them back in at night. They always come to see me when I come out in the yard so I either just pick them up or go in the coop with some feed or even just change the water, they come running as they don't want to miss out on anything! :rolleyes:
  8. jetdog

    jetdog Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 18, 2013
    Mine stay close also but only let out when I can watch them, a red solo cup with some scratch and give it a good shake and stand out of the way they come a running.
  9. SummerChick

    SummerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2010
    Somerset, Texas

    Mine are a little younger than yours... I started giving the mealworms as a treat and would shake the container. So when I need to get them in and they aren't cooperating, I shake the container and they come running plus they get the treat too. So far they do not roam very far from their coop. I'm sure as they grow they will wander farther.

  10. sahmhomesteader

    sahmhomesteader Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 3, 2013
    SW Ohio
    This is good info for me as well as I am new and will have my first flock come Spring. My main concern is hawks. Chickens will be free ranging on about a 2 acre area. I am also trying to figure out how to keep them from laying out there. Any tips Montgirl?

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