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Free-ranging...early?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by louis, Apr 6, 2009.

  1. louis

    louis Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 20, 2009
    Texas Hill Country
    I have 11 RIR and 7 plymouth rocks living in a 9x9 coup that used to be a shed. It's nice because the walls are solid, it's totally critter-proof, and I set it up so I've got about another 4 feet of expansion area if I need it. Couldn't figure out how to post a pic [​IMG].

    Anyways, I'm trying to get them outdoors a little at a time now. They're right at about 8 weeks (I've heard you can start letting 'em loose around 2 to 2 1/2 months). I have plenty of space and my dog loves to stay with them without chasing them so I'm not worried about predators yet. The thing is, so far they just really seem freaked out by the outside world! I have to shoo them out and then they'll only peck around within about 5 feet of their home. I'm sure they'll grow into it but just wanted to hear any stories, etc. you guys might have about free-ranging.

    Another obstacle is the way in and out is a window about 3 feet off the ground. I've got little ramps on both sides with footing but figuring out the ramps actually lead outside and then back again is eluding them for now.
     
  2. CityClucks

    CityClucks The Center of a 50 Mile Radius

    Jan 31, 2009
    Tulsa, OK
    My peeps freaked when confronted with a lot of room, too. They all huddled together because they weren't familiar with all the space. It will take them a little while but they'll get the hang of it - then they'll really enjoy it. Watch to make sure they know how to get back up the ramps into their coop in the evening, you can help them by letting them find their way down, then setting them back up to the shed window until they figure it out.
     
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    SW Arkansas
    Free ranging is all my chickens have ever known. I started taking them out at 2 1/2 weeks with supervision. Now they complain very loudly if I can't let them out for some reason.
    You have cleats on the walkways correct? Try sprinkling a little scratch or whatever their favorite treat is on each cleat, right up to the coop door.
     
  4. louis

    louis Out Of The Brooder

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    Feb 20, 2009
    Texas Hill Country
    Thankfully I did listen to some friendly advise and install cleats. I'll try the scratch idea as well as coaxing them down and lifting them back up. Thanks!
     
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    Nov 18, 2007
    Florida
    My Coop
    I agree with the other posts cleats on the ramps and treats too. Once mine started going out then they didn't want to go in so I would have to round them up in the eve to get them to go inside. I work graveyard shift so I would just go to sleep but leave their pop door open. Once they figured it out that they could go in and out when ever they wanted there was no problems. I started to let mine out when they were a month old, on nice days. They will figure it out. There are pictures on my BYC Page.
     
  6. Dustoff79

    Dustoff79 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 5, 2008
    San Antonio, Texas
    I moved my chicks into the coop after two weeks. I had partitioned the back portion off. as they grew I gave them free use of the whole coop while I built a temp outside run. At about two months I just opened the coop door and let them decide. in the evening I would make sure they all went back in and closed the door. I did this to make sure they knew the coop was home and safe. I have found they don't like change much but do adjust. After they fully feathered out I just removed the temp run fence and now they come out in the morning free range all day and at night all return to the coop and i close the door. I have about 4 acres and they are fenced with 2"x4" horse wire to keep dogs and coyote out. They wander all over the place, especially in the morning. In the afternoon they tend to stay closer to the coop. I have not lost one yet, and except for one night all were in the coop after dark (I found one by my barn hunkered down for the night, and returned her to the roost). no problems since.
     
  7. tdgill

    tdgill Chillin' With My Peeps

    mine seem to like to hang out under an evergreen bush. I guess they feel protected. And if they hear a strange noise, they hightail it into the shed. They saw a buzzard flying overhead the other day and paid close attention to it from the shed door. Maybe if they had some kinda cover, or place to scoot under.
     
  8. Brickman House

    Brickman House Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 24, 2009
    I start letting mine outside at around 6 weeks or so. At first, they're always hesitant to venture outside the coop, and if they do, they don't go far or stay out for long. Eventually, though, they get braver and braver, and soon enough they don't want to go back in!

    I'd just open the coop every morning, and close it up every night, and eventually they'll start going out and ranging further and further afield!
     

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