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free ranging after being in a chicken tractor?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Molly12300, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. Molly12300

    Molly12300 Hatching

    Aug 5, 2010
    Hello..this is my first post here, and I hope that you all can help me. Here is my question/story. This is my first time having chickens, and my husband and I built a great chicken tractor and I bought 6 pullets at about 8 weeks old. The woman who sold me the chickens informed me that it would be best to keep the pullets confined in the chicken tractor until they started laying eggs because of predators coming and getting them if they were not full grown. So I have kept them in the tractor confined, but they are reaching full maturity and also the tractor is not the biggest (we made it with the intention of letting the chickens free range in the day and have security during the night). So I have been going out and leaving the door open, but the chickens do not want to leave the tractor. They do come out if they see that I have treats for them, but then they eat it and run right back in. I don't have a problem with leaving the door open for them, but we have six barn cats that run around and I am afraid that the cats (who have shown great interest in the chickens, and in fact have chased a chicken) will get into the coop and it would be a massacre. So I guess my question would be....how do I get my chickens to free range? My sister who has chickens in various ages suggested me getting an older more veteran chicken to show my poor chickens the way of the world, but if I did that I would have to get rid of one or two because the tractor does not have that much room for 7 chickens. Sorry that this is so long, but I really want to give my chickens a great quality of life, and I don't feel them living in a chicken tractor when they have plenty of room to run is a good life.

    Thanks so much,


  2. Gallo del Cielo

    Gallo del Cielo La Gallina Resort & Spa

    May 6, 2010
    My Coop
    Hi Molly, It sounds like they just need more experience going outside. It would have been good when they were chicks to let them out everyday while you are standing there looking over them for at least a little while. They don't want to come outside yet because the tractor feels safe to them. I would recommend feeding them treats everyday outside of the tractor and walk them around the parts of the yard you want them to explore. I doubt it would take more than a few days for them to really look forward to being let out. Mine followed me everywhere but really didn't explore any places that I didn't take them first. My girls are full grown now and I don't worry too much about cats. They showed no mercy to my cats and the cats learned to fear them quickly. Oh, BTW, [​IMG]!!!
  3. JetBlack

    JetBlack Songster

    Apr 19, 2010
    Coeur d'Alene, ID
    My girlfriend's cat chased my chickens around the yard and had a great old time. Then she knocked one down and if you'd believe it, apologized. This cat sat and looked at the upside down chicken, for all the world, like "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! Are you okay?" and after that, the chickens walked all around her and she completely ignored them.

    Keep an eye on the cats, for the first few days. Also, expect that you may lose a chicken. I started with 9 and lost two to neighborhood cats. Now the chickens are bigger than cats. Cats don't chase dogs. Big chases little. Just hope the chickens don't draw blood on a cat or they will continue to attack it until the cat gets free or they kill it. Blood sets off chickens.
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    It has always taken mine a day or two to learn to venture out of their coop, but they slowly start venturing out if you let them do it on their own time. At first they stay near their home, but they expand in time and before ya know it they are all over the place!!
  5. write2caroline

    write2caroline Songster

    Jun 21, 2009
    I have chickens in a run and some who get out of the run......Sometimes I let them out of the run.....
    We have had a fox get my roo - (very early in the morning) And I championed the Roo by chasing a fox like a crazy screaming Viking Berzerker. I won! We have a lot of stray cats, when the chicks were little I let them roam under supervision and was armed with a squirt bottle. ANY move towards the chickens the cats got a squirt. When the chickens got older and the cats tried anything, the Rooster chased the cats. Now they are all living in harmony. I do not trust cats around chickens less than 4 weeks old. Nor do I trust my dogs around the peeping chicks. The chicks sound like chew toys.

    So, If you are going to supervise them - let them roam.
    They will want to go to bed at Dusk. I would let them out a hour or so before dusk. With treats and encourage them to get into the coop at bed time. I use a solar light in the coop. I also always have a walking stick to help herd them.

    My older chickens free range all day with little to no supervision. They have to go into the run for water and food. We do have 4 acres of woods but since the fox incident they have not wandered into the woods. They do enjoy the compost heap. We have red shoulder hawks around but I have lots of trees - a cypress in peticular the chickens go under when the hawk cries or they see anything flying high.

    My hens are especially bad about flying over the fence. My Roo never does. Not sure why. My roo is such a turd now and bad about attacking people I like him to stay in the run anyway now.


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