free range questions

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by jeanie, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. jeanie

    jeanie Hatching

    Sep 8, 2009
    Hello! First posting here and a few questions. We are newbies at raising chickens and have 8- 4 Red sex links, 1 Buff Orp, 1 Black Aust, 1 Plym Rock, 1 RIR...hatched 5/18/09. My husband and son built a large coop w/run (will figure out how to post photo) but we've been letting them free range out in our yard for the past 4 weeks or so. They have stuck together and it hasn't been much of a problem getting them back in (or they go in on their own at night)- and have stayed in our unfenced yard near the coop. Yesterday 2 wandered off into the neighbors yard and got stuck in an old dog pen. I'm now afraid to let them out again when I'm not outside w/them. we usually supervise them (in general- we are home and check on them regularly)- but I got distracted that day. Their behavior up to this point made me assume they would stick together and close to our home.... my question is- was this a fluke, or will they expand their 'comfort zone' and start to wander further and further away from the coop?

    Also, now that they are getting close to laying, do I need to keep them in for a few weeks (as someone suggested on another thread) so that they are forced to get used to their nesting boxes? I feel so bad for them b/c they really want to get out and play- but I have to say, they have at least the minimum amount of space w/the coop and run....did I spoil them? Is it cruel to keep them in when they are used to being free range? I just don't want to find eggs all over my yard-or to wander off since we don't have a fenced area for them.

  2. toletiquesbysam

    toletiquesbysam Songster

    Sep 19, 2008

    They will continue to expand their ranging and don't all stick together!! They get more comfortable in their surrounding and venture further!!

    I used to free range all day sun up to sun down, but since my girls too are in the laying age, I now only let them out in the evenings to free range. Most will lay eggs in the morning to early afternoon from what I've heard so figure this will at least give me a chance to find the eggs in the run/coop vs the whole acreage!!

    Good Luck to you!!
  3. jenikay63

    jenikay63 In the Brooder

    Apr 6, 2009
    I know how you feel about spoiling your chickens with free-range. I have a coop with an attached run that my 14 hens stay in until about 6 p.m. each night. They are lined up at the door and squaking like wild when I come out to let them out. I feel sorry for them every morning when I leave for work and know that they have a long day of boring run time; however, if I were to let them out during the day, I'm sure that most of their eggs would get lain in the woods and I'd never find them. I have let them out during the day on occasion and I don't get nearly as many eggs those days as I do on normal days when they are confined. Remember, they are chickens, and even though they seem to be very smart, their brain is much smaller than ours and they don't have alot of capability for reasoning. I don't think they are standing around all day thinking what bad people we are for not letting them out. Also, for their own safety it is better to confine them rather than having them out all the time available to predators and other trouble.
  4. jeanie

    jeanie Hatching

    Sep 8, 2009
    Thanks so much for the reply! I like the idea of letting them out later in the day for a short period of time. Did you have a hard time keeping them in after letting them go all day? I feel like they're looking so sad and begging me to let them out! Hopefully they will get used to the new routine.
  5. jeanie

    jeanie Hatching

    Sep 8, 2009
    Quote:Just saw your post after my first reply- I agree I want to keep them safe- and the fiasco the other day was a big wake up call!

  6. debbie.h

    debbie.h In the Brooder

    Jul 12, 2009
    Warm Springs, GA
    I let my chickens out at sunrise and they all go in to the nesting boxes when they get ready to lay. I do have a very LARGE area fenced in for them to free range. I have only had two incidents with hawks in the 14 months that I've had them. I lost one hen:( They all go in when it starts getting dark.
  7. nancysmith2

    nancysmith2 Songster

    Mar 24, 2009
    You are probably still a few weeks from eggs. I let my hens out in a small area during the day and when I get home at 5 they get full run of the backyard. I too have lost some hens to hawks but it is part of free ranging. My girls do not like it when I make them stay in the coop. The one thing I would say is try to figure out where you want them to lay and train them to lay in that spot. You do not want to go on and Easter egg hunt everyday.
  8. SoapSmith

    SoapSmith Hatching

    Feb 10, 2009
    I'm in the exact same position (we got day-old chickens in Mid-May), and have 15 total (6 Aracanas, 2 NHR, 2BR, 2 black Sex-links, 3 Golden Wyd.) one being a rooster. I've been letting them out 1st thing in the AM to free range, and they put themselves to bed at sundown (then I just close them in). I'm wondering how you "train them to use their nest boxes"? I don't have a problem letting them out closer to noontime, and leaving them out until sundown, but I do want them to lay in the boxes (which I'm installing this week). Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get them to use the boxes? Thanks!!
  9. tryingtohaveitall

    tryingtohaveitall Songster

    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Ohio
    I am far from an expert, but what we noticed was that the longer the flock was out free ranging, the farther they started to wander. The final blow to this was the other day they made to the neighbors on both sides of us. Both of those neighbors have hunting dogs, so for their safety, we're only going to let them out in the evenings.

    Funny thing though, Sunday evening my DH was lying on the couch with the side kitchen door open for the breeze. Two hens wandered into the house, lol!

  10. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana

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