Free-ranging dilemmas...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cmlew99, Nov 5, 2014.

  1. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    Hello everyone! I have a question (I suppose thats rather obvious). From my little chick order in May I have Mary and Edith. Edith is a BO rooster, Mary is a Buff Brahma hen. They are 27ish weeks old. About four or three weeks ago I purchased two more hens to give Mary a break. Mabel is an Easter Egger, possibly about 19 weeks old. Cora is a Rhode Island Red, who is laying eggs so she must be around 22 weeks. I really want to let them free range around my yard- I let Mary and Edith do so before these new girls came along. But Mary and Edith also come when I call, so I could put them away whenever I wanted. Its Cora and Mabel I'm worried about.

    Here are my reservations
    1. On the first day I got Mabel she somehow escaped and ran far away for about three days until I tricked her into returning to the run. I don't want a repeat of all the stress and worry.

    2. I have some scratch in a cup, and when I shake it Mary, Edith, and Cora come running, but Mabel is a little scared of me and timid so she doesn't respond. So if I needed to go, I would have to leave all four of them out and I don't want to do that.

    3. Even if Mabel and Cora don't run away, they previously free ranged all day long at their old home, only visiting the coop at night. They also lived on a humungous farm. I live in a tiny little yard, with no barrier between mine and my neighbors. And my neighbors probably don't want to put up with Edith's crowing and adventures in their flower gardens

    4. I don't want something to spook Mabel and make her run away to her home where she stayed for those three days

    5. I'm scared...

    If anyone has any tips or reassurances, please do comment below. Thanks in advance!!!
  2. howfunkyisurchicken

    howfunkyisurchicken Crowing

    Apr 11, 2011
    If you've had them for a few weeks, it should be fine to let them out. Start doing it in the evenings, an hour or two before they go to roost, when you'll be home. As they get used to the routine, let them out earlier. Most of my birds will follow me to the run if I need to put them away for whatever reason, but a few of my guineas want nothing to do with me (even if I have food). I use a couple of long sticks to herd them back in, it works great. I just go very slowly so I don't spook them, and use the sticks to steer them in the direction I want them to go.

    Good luck.
  3. N F C

    N F C booooo!

    Dec 12, 2013
    It sounds as if your new birds aren't quite comfortable in their new home yet. We raised an EE from a little chick and it still took her quite a while to letting us handle her...maybe that is an EE trait, the shyness. Don't really know, I only mention it because ours was pretty skittish for some time.

    I wonder about your neighbors. If there isn't a border of some sort between your houses (fence, hedge, etc.), what's kept your other chickens from bothering them or their yard? Chickens can roam quite a bit, have your neighbors ever said anything to you about them? Sure don't want any hassle from them, especially if you plan to continue free ranging. Would a fence of some sort be possible to help contain your girls to your yard?
  4. cafarmgirl

    cafarmgirl Crowing

    You need to fence in an area for your birds so they stay safely in your own yard. Living in small spaces is not the place for free range chickens that are going to get into other peoples yards. Not to mention the dangers of peoples dogs as well as other predators.
  5. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chirping

    Apr 5, 2014
    Thanks for all of your responses! They were all helpful. I ended up locking away Mabel and letting Edith, Mary, and Cora out. Mabel was content eating a bit of scratch and dust bathing. I did notice that Edith and Cora were adventuring farther than I would have liked. Also, when they were younger they followed me around and listened when I called them, but now that Edith is a big ole rooster, they look to him. So the only way I can get them to listen to me is if Edith listens to me. Which is a bit of a problem...

    @NorthFLChick ,
    Quote: I'm not exactly sure. I guess I just call them over whenever they get too close. They've never really shown interest in that part of the yard- They seem to gravitate to the patch of trees and leaves in the other corner. This time I did notice Cora wanting to cross over to the neighbor's place. No, my neighbors haven't complained… yet. They are a nice retired couple that love animals- maybe the flock going in there yard wouldn't be so bad.

    @cafarmgirl I agree.
    I just like to let them roam while I'm out there. I shouldn't have used the words "free ranging". Whenever I let them out I am always there, right next to them with a treat in my hand. Its just fun to let them wander for thirty or forty minutes once in a while.

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