free range scardy cat

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mellymel, Apr 24, 2016.

  1. mellymel

    mellymel In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2015
    I want to let my hens out for a bit during the day. I have a HUGE yard and a lot of bushes and stuff.
    how do I clip their wings? how do I know I'll get them to go back in at night?
    how! lol
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2016

  2. chloechicks

    chloechicks In the Brooder

    Apr 24, 2016
    My chickens free range all day in my huge yard that is fenced in. Even if your yard is not fenced in chickens are smart and stay off the roads and near the coop. Clipping wings isn't usually nessacary unless u have a certain flighty bird that does not understand boundaries. Chickens are pretty good at putting themselves to bed if they have access to their coop.when catching your birds, pick up one and its alarm calls should attract the other birds and they will soon follow. Once a couple birds are in the coop, others will follow their sounds and put themselves to bed. If all else fails, shaking food or introducing treats will get them right in the coop!
    1 person likes this.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Not all, if any, chickens are 'smart' enough to stay out of the road.

    If your birds have been in coop/run long enough to feel it's 'home',
    then they will come back at dusk to roost in coop.
    Start off free ranging late in the day, and hour or so before they usually go to roost.
    They won't wander far at first and you can 'test' and observe their homing instinct .

    Getting them back in the coop at any time other than roosting time can be a challenge,
    tho some folks use the rattling treat can successfully to lure them back.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I’m not sure why you want to clip their wings, most of us find it unnecessary, but here is a link to an article in the learning center above on how to clip.

    With living animals you don’t get 100% guarantees. That’s just the way it works. No matter what anyone says someone else can always find an exception. But there are some things that are pretty close to 100%.

    It is pretty close to 100% that chickens do not know to stay off of roads. They certainly do not know to look both ways before crossing the road.

    This does not mean your chickens will seek out the road to play in it. Many people free range chickens around roads without a problem. The risk is always there but whether or not they use the road depends on your flock and your terrain. Some flocks roam a lot further than others. How far the road is from the coop plays a part. Your terrain makes a difference. Do you have a barrier between the coop and road? That might be an area you don’t mow, a fence of some type, or a row of bushes. The only way to determine how big a risk a road is for you and your unique situation will be to try it.

    Aart’s suggestion to let them out near sunset is a good one. Initially they won’t wander far from the coop, but as they get more comfortable they will range further. You’ll need to observe and see what you are comfortable with.

    Something that is really close to 100% is that once chickens are used to spending the night in the coop they will return to that area at night to sleep. Usually that is inside the coop but occasionally it will be next to the coop. It’s usually pretty easy to catch them after dark and put them in the coop. Hopefully the area is not brightly lit. After doing this a few times they should get the message and start going in on their own. I’d give them at least a week of being locked in the coop or coop and run before I tested this, with two weeks being even better. If you do have a run, wait until they are going from the run to the coop at night before you let them out.

    It is really hard to herd chickens anywhere. If you try to herd them they tend to dart out to the side. It can be really frustrating. That’s another reason why letting them out an hour or so before dark is a good idea, at least to start and you gain some confidence. But a good trick to know is to teach them to come to you. Put a treat they really like, maybe scratch but it can be something else, in a container (a bucket maybe) that rattles when you shake it. A couple of times a day feed them treats while rattling that can or maybe chanting something like “here chicky chick”. It should not take long for them to come running to you whenever they see that container, here the rattle, or hear your chant. That can be very useful to get them back into the coop or run during the day. Just be consistent and always give them a treat when you call them.

    Getting them back in a t night really should not be a problem, they should want to go back in by themselves. It’s getting them back in during the day that can be the problem. I suggest you ease into it, more for your self-confidence than anything else. Easing into it should lessen you stress level.

    Good luck!
  5. mellymel

    mellymel In the Brooder

    Mar 10, 2015
    they've been in their coop for a year. lol they are a year and 3 months old.
    I have a big yard with 5 ft fences. we do have dogs, so they have to go out when the dogs are in. and I guess I'm worried they will fly over the fence...I'd rather be safe than sorry, you know. :)

  6. Vickie 51

    Vickie 51 In the Brooder

    Sep 19, 2012
    Are you aware of your local predators? I live in a suburb but within 500 feet of my property we have fox, coyote, raccoons and more hawks than I can count. If you free range and something comes looking for a meal, ay best your girls will scatter like leaves in a good wind. Plan accordingly.

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