Free range

aaungier

In the Brooder
Apr 8, 2020
14
0
11
Have 10 chicks and 7 ducks that are going on 10 weeks old. I am thinking about train them to be free range... anyone have on tips and advices on how to start the process and what to expect
 

Kaesi2020

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Have 10 chicks and 7 ducks that are going on 10 weeks old. I am thinking about train them to be free range... anyone have on tips and advices on how to start the process and what to expect
Hi! I am new to chickens, having six 8 week olds. What worked for me is starting small and being vigilant. I started with half an hour supervised and now we are up to 3 to 4 hours per day, only when I am home and working nearby/outside. In my area, I dont feel comfortable leaving them unsupervised as we have many predators (hawks being my top concern) and I know I wont be able to commit to 4 hours everyday, but whenever I can fit that in safely for them, I do.

It also helps me to keep their food and water accessible in the coop, that makes it easier to get them back in there when I need to.

I also try to get them to gravitate towards safer areas like in my backyard under trees and in the brush...where I can see them but hawks will not.
 

LaurEliz

Songster
Apr 8, 2018
285
692
202
Central Illinois
My Coop
My Coop
I free range mine. I start them out inside the coop when they are young and then open the door and let them make their own way out when they are ready. I try to start this on days I can be outside for a bit to watch them and judge how they're doing. I feed mine only inside the coop so they have a reason to want to go back in, and I do a head count before I lock up at night to make sure everyone made it back.

I have fake hawks and owls perched on posts around my yard (moving once a week, or else hawks and owls realize that they are, in fact, fakes, and don't take them seriously) to keep predator birds away. I also hang CDs/DVDs from trees. The spinning light reflection is supposed to make hawks have a harder time getting chickens. I also have quite a few shrubs around that they can hide under. I suggest, if possible in your area, having a good rooster. Mine gives off certain alarm calls to the rest and tells them all to take cover if he sees a bird fly over. I think he's saved the flock many times.
 

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 12, 2009
8,951
11,344
636
western South Dakota
The chance of loss skyrockets with letting them out, them running around, eating grass and bugs is priceless...the secret is to find the sweet spot in the middle.
  • Don't let them out on a schedule - sometimes all day, sometimes part of the day, sometimes not at all
  • Do have a set up that can hold the flock 24/7 if and when you do get hit. Predators come back, going into lock down is important until they move on.
  • Don't let them out are real cloudy days or high wind days. They can't see the hawk shadow, and they can't hear predators.
  • The more often and longer you let them out, the farther they will roam. If they get to roaming too far, don't let them out for a while.
  • A full grown good rooster (not all roosters are good roosters) close to year old, that has been raised in a free ranging flock is a good asset against day time predators.
Good luck,
Mrs K
 

Kaesi2020

Songster
Premium Feather Member
The chance of loss skyrockets with letting them out, them running around, eating grass and bugs is priceless...the secret is to find the sweet spot in the middle.
  • Don't let them out on a schedule - sometimes all day, sometimes part of the day, sometimes not at all
  • Do have a set up that can hold the flock 24/7 if and when you do get hit. Predators come back, going into lock down is important until they move on.
  • Don't let them out are real cloudy days or high wind days. They can't see the hawk shadow, and they can't hear predators.
  • The more often and longer you let them out, the farther they will roam. If they get to roaming too far, don't let them out for a while.
  • A full grown good rooster (not all roosters are good roosters) close to year old, that has been raised in a free ranging flock is a good asset against day time predators.
Good luck,
Mrs K
Hello! When you say to have a setup to hold the flock in case of a predator attack, do you mean locked in the coop or a different place?
 

Gottaluvthat

Chirping
Jan 25, 2019
10
26
70
Tampa, Florida
I have a small backyard flock of 4 silkie hens, 1 leghorn hen (gifted to me), and 2 runner duck hens. Its a privacy fenced yard with seperate predator resistant coops for the ducks and chickens and both have automatic coop doors. My husband and I travel out of town a lot for a few weeks at a time. We have Blink cameras covering most areas of the yard so we can check on them when we're gone and they are scheduled to catch motion at night. Our neighbors clean the coops and get eggs when we are away. They've been free ranging for almost 2 years and they seem to be a happy, content flock. They have food and water in their coops and more water under their favorite tree and the ducks have a kiddie pool. They have a few bushes they can take cover under. I wish i could have a rooster, but not allowed. They used to have a long run, but they cleared the vegetation so fast and were always anxious to come out. Im so glad we are able to free range them. Ive seen a few hawks, i have a fake owl and i feed the crows to help keep the hawks away. Ive seen raccoons, possums and stray cats come through at night, but no problems thank God.
 

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