First time to let new flock out?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cmary, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. cmary

    cmary Out Of The Brooder

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    hello! I have just today adopted my first chickens! Of course I am extremely excited (and tired, after finishing their coop all day!). My big question is this - my chickens are not babies, they're about 1-2 years old on average, and come from a free-ranging background. I picked them up in the evening in the dark and put them in their new coop in the dark. Though I plan on opening their door and letting them range in the future, I have heard that it might be a good idea to leave them in for a certain amount of time at first to let them adjust to their new surroundings. Is this true? If I open the door right away the next day, will they get confused and not know where to roost the next night? Or does it actually not matter and they'll adjust just fine?
    Thanks so much!!
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Hi and welcome to BYC!
    I would give them at least 4 days, even better a week to adjust to their new home before turning them out.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    As usual, I total agree with Gritsar. Keep them locked up until they know where home is.

    And welcome to the forum. Glad you are here.
     
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Overrun With Chickens

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    My Coop
    The other posters have given good advice but I'll share my experience too. Keeping them in the coop was not an option for me because it is an A-Frame coop with no windows and no attached run, so they would have spent 4-7 days inside in the dark. I started them in a brooder in the house and brought them outside gradually. I.e., the first time it was for an hour of supervised free range time, the next day a little longer and so on. Each evening we gathered them up and took them back inside to the brooder. When we decided it was time for them to spend their first night in the coop, we had to put them in there. Next morning they were let out and spent the day free ranging. That evening we again picked them up and put them in the coop. The following night we were able to "herd" them across the yard to the coop. Possibly the next night or two required a little herding or encouragement too. But within days they understood the routine and before the week was out, they were putting themselves to bed in the coop at night. I have a small, suburban backyard, and finding them to encourage them in the direction of the coop was never an issue, but if you have a larger space, my method may not work for you. Still, wanted to offer another option.
     
  5. cmary

    cmary Out Of The Brooder

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    Thanks so much for the great advice!! They seem very content in their coop for the time being and I plan on letting them out in a few days when I can be there for the whole time and keep an eye on them, and help herd them back home if necessary. In the meantime I'm giving them lots of good vegetable treats!
    Thanks again for your help!! [​IMG]
     
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Something I failed to mention the first time around. The first day you let them out it's a good idea to only let them out an hour or two before dusk. That way they don't have a chance to wander too far before it's time to return to the coop for the night. Once they prove to you that they get the idea, you can increase the time a little more each day.
    I turn my chooks loose soon as I get up in the morning and they put themselves to bed at night. All I have to do is go out there, do a head count and lock up.
     
  7. fivestring

    fivestring Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I agree with gritsar. Let them out an hour or two before dusk the first time. They will stick close to home.

    And you will probably have one or two stragglers that wait till it's almost dark before heading home.

    My dominant (mother) hen took to the task of herding everyone into the house when it got close to dark.

    Now all I have to do is swing the gate closed and do a head count, again like gritsar.
     
  8. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:What?!?!? You don't follow them in to kiss each one goodnight?? [​IMG]
    I thought everybody di.......nevermind. [​IMG]
     

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