Free Range before bed?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by nikkichikki, Apr 21, 2011.

  1. nikkichikki

    nikkichikki Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Hi, I have three hens (my first chickens ever) that I bought a couple weeks ago. I think they are something like 10 months old. We have several dogs, so I keep them in a run. I was thinking about letting them free range for a little bit before dark (and just keeping the dogs in the house for a while when the chickens are out). But, I'm really worried that they won't be smart enough to find their way back into the run to get in their coop (we have a REALLY big back yard, its at least an acre, with lots of tall grass toward the back). Though I have been giving them treats every day since I got them, they still aren't that particularly attached to me, so its not like they'll come when I call.

    I let them out for a little bit today (like ten minutes), but didn't let them go out very far...kept herding them back towards the run's gate.

    Any tips? Will they be able to find their way back with they're ready to roost? What do I do if they don't? I'd really like to be able to let them get out a while and chase bugs:weee , the run is only 8ftx12ft, and its already been reduced to nothing but dirt!

  2. pontoosuc

    pontoosuc Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 9, 2010
    Richmond, MA
    I'm not exactly sure how to start 10 month olds to new free range, but here is what we did with our chooks last season:

    We started going out about 15 minutes before sunset and letting them outside of their enclosed outdoor run.
    We stay with them ( I never go away) until the sun set and they came back inside by themselves.
    I've have seen someplace the number of feet they range away from their coop depending on their ages.
    It's not that far from the coop

    If they know their home, and know their treats/food, at sunset they should start to come back.
    Occasionally when the sun has set and they still want to stay outside the coop/run, I gently encourage
    them with my little broom or long stick, and they get the idea.

    We have 40 acres and they are birds. They like to stick together.

    Have fun!
  3. Higins00

    Higins00 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 19, 2008
    If you have had them in their pen for a while they will know that's where to go back too. They don't go too far the first couple of times. Do it right before sunset, sit with them. Just open the door and let them walk out themselfs.
    If you get freaked out bring some bread with you go inside the pen, call them and throw small peices. I bet you they will all wonder back in themselfs. They are wonderful like that. Grab a stool and just relax.
  4. nikkichikki

    nikkichikki Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 26, 2011
    Austin, TX
    I think I will try trusting them tomorrow night, and keep strawberries with me just in case... Thanks for the tips!
  5. wberry85

    wberry85 Out Of The Brooder

    Feb 21, 2011
    Milton, GA
    I think they will surprise you.

    I kept my chicks in the coop for just one week before letting them free range. They dont even go farther than 20-30 feet from the coop, and by the time it starts to get dark I look outside and they are all in bed on their own. If they have been in the coop for as long as 10 months, they will be able to find their way back no problem.
  6. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    I have my chickens trained. I have a small plastic container filled with boss. If I call them they will come then I start shaking the container & their very aware of whats in it. I simply open & throw some in the coop & bingo they all go in the coop. Works every time. Close the door & that's it.
  7. cobrien

    cobrien Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 16, 2009
    Oakland, CA
    I do what pontoosuc said.
  8. trueblue

    trueblue New Egg

    Apr 22, 2011
    I'm a little nervous, I've had my adult flock of 9 hens & 1 rooster for 3 weeks now. I let my chickens go free range, as they are good about going back in the barn to their roosts every night. Tonight when I went out to shut them in for the night (at dark) they were nowhere to be found! I walked through the back woods with a flashlight calling to them. I'm worried they've wandered off & can't find their way back... or worse. Please help!
  9. nurseshelly

    nurseshelly Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 24, 2011
    Gilbert AZ
    Mine have been in their coop since they were 4 or 5 weeks old (they are 3 months now). I let them free range a quarter of my back yard every day when I'm off of work (just so I can check on them). When it starts getting a little dark, I put a handful of scratch and flax seed on a terracotta pot dish and put it in their coop. They all wander back to eat their treats, and then go up to their perches. It works great! When they were little we had a section blocked part of the way off with the heat light over it. They slept there when they were too little to fly up to their roost.
  10. kmbeethesun

    kmbeethesun New Egg

    Apr 2, 2011
    I think that this must happen with everyone, me too / the chicks will surprise you with their knowledge of what to do. I find letting them at night keeps them around their pen better, they don't wander to far come dusk anyways! Less worries about the chicks- they knOw, if you taught them!

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