Free range chickens return to coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by csk021, May 27, 2008.

  1. csk021

    csk021 In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I have 8 week old chicks. They are now in their chicken tractor outside where they've been for the past 3-4 weeks. I have yet to let them free range though merely for the fact that i'm afraid they'll all run off and never come back! And all my hard work in the past 2 months will be for nothing! Will they really return to their coop? do they stick pretty close to their coop? We don't really have neighbors and we live in the middle of our 20 acres so they have plenty of area to roam. Am i just being a nervous nellie? these are my first chickens and i'm so afraid of losing any of them!

  2. Yotta Yotta

    Yotta Yotta In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2008
    Madison AL
    Hey there! I was in the same situation as you a few weeks ago. I have a chicken tractor and I wanted to have my chickens free range. I always heard that once a chicken sleeps in a place for several days he will recognize that place as home and they won't travel far from home. I was worried though that the babies might become too excited and travel too far away from home and get lost. What I did was I just let about 3-4 out at a time to see how they would react. For first week I did that their first reaction was to stare inside the tractor and pace around it like, "What? I'm outside the coop? I want back in! All my friends are in there!" Then after a few minutes they would kind of relax and scratch around in the grass and stuff, but they never went far from the tractor.

    Since they were acting good we cut a hole in the side of the tractor so all the chickens can go in and out on their own. Now, they love it so much that in the morning they line up at the door waiting to be let out. Then they go back inside at sunset and all I have to do is close the door. [​IMG] I'm so proud of my babies, I didn't think they would behave so well.

    Only problem I've caught a cat stalking them today. No one was hurt, but I'm not going to let them out when I'm not watching them until my roosters get big.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    They should be able go go home just fine. I popped some chicks into a tractor at a few weeks old and let them range about at like 6 weeks old when they could run fast enough to get away from adults if need be. They all went back in to their coop no problem. Although, one did follow the silkies into their coop and decided that the broody was a good heat pad.
  4. rox

    rox Hatching

    May 28, 2008
    My problem is that I got a wonderful new coop (new to me). My chicks will go in & out all day but, when the suns going done they want to go back into their old funky coop. I was thinking if I put a shovel full of the old coops ground cover,the scent may keep them in the new place at night. Help! I'm tired of catching them every night to transfer them :
    Last edited: May 28, 2008
  5. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    My chickens are 15 weeks and never leave sight of the barn/coop. They have been in the coop since 6 weeks. They never travel any where that they aren't in a bunch and if one wanders off as soon as they realize it they run back to the bunch. As I have stated before no training involved. We to have cats around and I worried about it till I seen the chickens chasing after them one day. Now the cats sit on the outside of the fenced in yard and just watch. The chickens also chase our beagle and if he gets to close he gets pecked in the face and he takes off the deck and also watches. They are so much fun to watch I put a lawn chair in the yard just for chicken watching. John
  6. Donza

    Donza In the Brooder

    Apr 2, 2008
    SW Ranches FL (SE FL)
    I too let my chickens range free during the day and then lock them up at night. For babies I keep them confined in a small area until they get to be too big to look like snackfood for our cats and until they stop making their baby peeping noises. This is definitely a month to 8 weeks depending on how small they are (I have bantams).

    When I think they are old enough to go out on their own I wait until about a half hour before dark and open their cage. I pull up a chair and babysit them as they come out and start to explore. By the time they are getting tired and bored it's gotten dark enough that they run back to their house and because they've only been out a short time they are usually still close by. I do this for about a week Of course I only do it when I can stay and watch over them. And then I start letting them out earlier and earlier and with less and less supervision (but checking on them periodically). After about 2 weeks they are going out in the morning and coming back in to roost at dark.

    I do the same with new chickens I get but I keep them confined to their roost for about a week before starting to let them out just before dark. I spend another week letting them out earlier and earlier before they get to stay out all day.

    Last edited: May 29, 2008
  7. joebryant

    joebryant Crowing

    What about hawks/owls. Have any of the above posters or anyone else had their free-ranging, young chicks taken by hawks.
  8. csk021

    csk021 In the Brooder

    Apr 22, 2008
    Grand Rapids, MI
    I have to say i love this forum! There is a wealth of information for newbie chicken-mom's like myself [​IMG] Thanks so much for all your words of wisdom and encouragement. I think it may be time to let them stretch their wings a bit and enjoy some free ranging. I too am worried about hawks, etc. since I have seen them flying around. I guess there comes a point though that you can't protect them from everything and worrying doesn't help - sort of like my human babies!

    Thanks again!

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