Free range chickens for the first time - How to do this? and a Bee ?


In the Brooder
9 Years
May 26, 2010
Morganton, NC
We are in the process of fencing my yard so I can let my chickies out of the run during the day. Lots of dogs around here so fencing is a must first.

Im wondering however HOW one gets them trained to go back to the coop at night? How do they know? I havent gotten them to where they will come to me evne tho I take them goodies and greens and feed them etc. They run if I try to pick them up still. They are not layig yet however and are about 3 months old.

What sayth the chicken whisperers on this subject? I dont want my chickies to run away or fly over the fence and get eaten.

Oh and also, we have two hives of bees....How close can the coop and fence be to them? I would like to not loose my bees to hungry chickens eating them LOL.


11 Years
Jul 22, 2008
N'rn Wisconsin
I don't free range, so I don't have first-hand experience, but I've read in other posts here that they should come home to roost on their own.

If you raised the chooks in the coop, it shouldn't be a problem. If you bring home adult chooks, the suggestion is to lock them up in the coop for a couple days until they get used to it, and are laying eggs there, then you can let them out.

We have an old kennel building we use for our coop. It has fenced in dog runs that we let the chooks out into during the day. We put deer netting over the top to keep the chooks in and everything else out. We've found a few eggs out in the run, but only a few.


12 Years
Jul 6, 2007
If they are used to living in the coop, they will return to the coop by themselves at night (usually), I guess there is always the odd one. How long have you had them? Will they come if you bang a bag or tin of treats? (I can't figure out how to make mine stop mobbing me, but I've had most of them since they were chicks- it is also breed dependent I think.) I would let them out just an hour or so before dusk the first time. if they are contained in a fence they should return to their coop/run. I have a friend who has bees and chickens. The coop and hive are not more than 20 ft apart, but her chickens are not fenced at all. I don' t think the chickens eat the bees, but the bees have stung the chickens when they are sharing water sources. it would be a good idea if they had separate (or a lot of) water sources.

How high is your fence? My chickens can fly up to my shoulder if they are motivated. I'm 5ft 7in.

Sir Birdaholic

Night Knight
10 Years
Nov 6, 2009
Greers Ferry Lake,Arkansas
The group will return to their coop at night if they are used to sleeping there already. I have always freeranged, & every once in a great while, I'll have to go catch a youngster that went over the fence. My mature birds never fly over the fence, so maybe clip a wing on the youngsters until they get used to their boundry. About the bees, just make a wire ring out of fence & place it around the hive so the chickens can't reach them. Good luck.

rancher hicks

Free Ranging
14 Years
Feb 28, 2009
Syracuse, NY
Just go out at dusk and do a check. I like to do a head count most nights. Keep the yard clear of hiding places, you can't look into. No under the car type things. I've found older chicks piled up in front of the coop people door and a broody with her two chciks tucked in next to the between the run and step into the people door twice. Not sure why just do a head count and peripheral search.

Wishing you the best


9 Years
Jan 25, 2010
Central Indiana
They will typically go to roost at dusk. Right now mine will roost between 9:10-9:15. In the winter and in the spring I would put them away earlier having to chase them down and waste a half hour doing it. Now they wont go near the coop during the day not even for water so I just wait for them. I look out the window first to see if anyone is still in the yard first and when I see nothing I just go out there and lock the door. Once the first hen makes a run for the best spot in the coop they all make a run for it. The lowest on the totem pole will usually hang around the yard for me to come out and offer her treats. I pick her up, put her on her roost, and shut the door. It takes me less than the 2 minute commercial in whatever show I happen to be watching.

Once they've fought for their spot on the roost they wont want to come down for food so feed them earlier(if you feed them at night) or just leave the food in their food container for breakfast. I'm one of the people that doesn't allow food 24/7 so I feed them on a schedule. They are free-range so I want them eating things from the yard. I give them their pellets for the rest of their vitamins and nutrition.

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