Free-Rangin' for the first time!!!!!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by tenderkat, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. tenderkat

    tenderkat Chillin' With My Peeps

    I'm about to let my 23 week-old girls have a go at the backyard for the first time. I'm a bit nervous about letting them out of the run. I know many people on here have probably faced this at some point. I know I should have started them younger, but this just seems like such a milestone.

    What are some pointers to make sure this goes successfully? How can I be sure my chickens will let me catch them to put them back in their run? Will they be more inclined to stay close to the garden and their run, or will they go into the rest of the not-as-safe areas of the yard (such as under the deck, over by the log pile and splitter, behind the big stack of scrap wood, through the slats of the picket fence, behind/under the trailer, etc.........)?

    I have 6 pullets. Would it be best if I let just a couple out at once, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming for me? Will they trample and devour the garden (okay, I know that really is a dumb question;)? Are there any plants I need to worry about them nibbling on, or they do just kind of know what is safe to eat?

    Any other ideas and advice will be greatly welcome. Here is a pic of their coop(not finished!) and run, with the garden area in front:

    [​IMG]

    Thanks so much, the ladies can't wait to get out!!!![​IMG]
     
  2. trilyn

    trilyn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2009
    East Syracuse
    Let em' all out and watch them go crazy! Yeah, you might as well forget the garden-it'll be gone, depending on how much you leave them out. Maybe next year you could fence it in? I have 18 that I let out at night for a couple of hours before their bedtime, this helps in getting them all back in at night. If I'm in a hurry for whatever reason, I'll get their no fail treat (bread-they cannot resist bread) and lure them back into the run. Otherwise, they'll put themselves to bed-trust me-this is so cool to watch! Have a blast and good luck!! [​IMG]
     
  3. tryingtohaveitall

    tryingtohaveitall Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 17, 2009
    SW Ohio
    I've been trying to let my chicks free range again recently. One thing I quickly learned is that they are like a herd of elephants with all vegetation! I can't believe how they can demolish an area, even the grass. We have 18 currently, so they can do a lot of damage to a small area. They made short work of my garden, and I ended up fixing the fencing to try to keep them out again.

    As the PP said, at dusk they do return to the coop which is easy. Otherwise, I have a terrible time to put mine in, definitely takes me and at least one child.

    Have fun! Mine seem to be so happy wandering around. It cracks me up, today they came up on the porch to the house. I feel like I'm living a Far Side cartoon!
     
  4. Uppity Peon

    Uppity Peon Chillin' With My Peeps

    Let them out in late afternoon when you have time to watch them till dusk. Chances are the first time out they won't go mor than 20 fee from the coop. When it starts getting dark they should go in on their own.

    I hope you realize that they will start digging around the plants, knocking pots over and sampling everything in your nice garden.
     
  5. Nostalchic

    Nostalchic Chillin' With My Peeps

    My chickens learned very quickly (I started when they were little chicks with mealy worms and crickets) to come RUNNING when I call "chick,chick,chick" because that meant delicious treats. (They love scratch feed, or grapes also worked well for me and I have lots because lots of grapevines). Once they learned that, I can get them into or out of the run very easily. But when I started letting them out, they were quite timid and didn't go far at all. Also, as PP suggested, let them out 30 minutes or so before dusk initially and they will naturally head for the roost as it gets darker. It's really fun to watch their first explorations into the wider world!
    PS: If your 6 pullets are out for just short periods of time, your garden may survive. I would let them all out together, they will stick together for the most part, or at least mine do. If you let only a couple of them out, they - and those left behind - will spend all their time fretting about how to get back together. I have a few adventurers who wander a bit from the crowd, but that took a while. Good luck!
    PSS: Don't let them out for " a short while" if you have a timetable: the length of time it takes them to go back in is inversely related to the amount of time you have before you have to be somewhere:) learned the hard way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2009
  6. eastbaychicks

    eastbaychicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 19, 2009
    Livermore
    [​IMG] It's so fun to watch these first timers. I let my 9 week olds out for the first time yesterday. I think they were afraid of the sky. They kept ducking their heads, checking out the sky, and ducking some more. They loved jumping in the branches and hiding under bushes sampling everything. It was so funny!! [​IMG]

    I have found as far as the garden goes that if I'm out there watching them I can keep them out. I have let them in one bed of radishes and beets that I had let go to seed (for my next planting) and they were very great at eating all the bugs, leaving behind gifts to the dirt and picking every piece of soft green off the stem. They cleaned house very well for me. I now have baby plants that I'm thinning and giving to them, they LOVE it!!!

    Have fun.... all I can say is it's so cute, and today (day 2) they wasted no time getting out into the yard on their second try.
     
  7. wildorchid053

    wildorchid053 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 12, 2009
    syracuse area, ny
    our garden is done and we have been turning it over with a pitch fork so they dive for the worms.. they enjoy it so much they keep getting in the way of the tines so we have to be careful but they sure do grab the little crawlies fast
     
  8. purpletree23

    purpletree23 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 15, 2009
    Make sure they have chicken grit so thy can digest all that plant matter.
     
  9. shaggy

    shaggy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 11, 2009
    Orange, Texas
    i started letting mine out in the evenings for an hour or two --- they are 18 weeks


    i sit out and watch them (mostly because i have 3 dogs) ... and when it is time for them to go back in --- i take a pool skimmer and herd them ... i walk behind them until they go back into their coop --- if i chase them they end up scattering everywhere --- but by walking behind them slowly i can guide them to where they need to be

    i've done this every evening for a week --- they still don't go more than 20 feet from their coop and anytime they get spooked, the coop is the first place they run to
     
  10. anngili

    anngili Chillin' With My Peeps

    I let my girls out the first time yesterday but since I was also worried about them not wanting to go back in, I put them inside the garden fence. Turned out they can jump the garden fence but it seemed like they knew they were supposed to stay near there and they stuck together pretty much.

    When dusk hit, my BR let me know vocally that she was upset about something (she's really friendly and "talks to me all the time"). When I went to her she kept scolding me until I headed to her run. She was scolding me because I was late getting her to her roost! The others came right along, too. Tonight as soon as I walked into the backyard she jumped the garden fence to be picked up and taken to her roost. Pushy chicken! [​IMG] [​IMG]
     

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