Free ranging on 20 acres?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Princess Lay-a, Jun 27, 2010.

  1. Princess Lay-a

    Princess Lay-a Chirping

    May 17, 2010
    Great Falls
    I'm a newbie and have a few questions about free ranging. Our chickens are nearly 6-7 weeks old, there are 77. We also have 9 llamas, 4 goats and 3 sheep. They have all done well with wild geese and pheasants on our other pasture. So I believe they will be accepting of the chickens.
    We plan to fence a large area for a few of the llamas and put the coop and run IN the fenced area. This would be added security for the chickens. We want the chickens to be able to free range outside of the coop and run on the 20 acres we have when they get a little bigger. There will also be a hot wire going around this fence. We will expand the fence till eventually it will encompass 15 of our 20 acres. This is wooded and yes, we have predators here in the MT wilderness. [​IMG]

    How do we get them back in at night? Treats at bedtime, then lock them down till morning? [​IMG]

    Do they come back on their own and put themselves to bed? [​IMG] The hubby says they all "know" to come back, I disagree.

    I am going to put some brighter solar lights out by the coop too. The llamas don't have great night vision despite their large eyes. So having lights around the area will hopefully help them see what's going on to defend their feathered friends. [​IMG]

    Any ideas or links, pros/cons you can share will be greatly appreciated!! [​IMG]
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    I agree with your husband. If they have lived in the coop for a while they will know to come home when it starts getting dark. You can help that if it makes you feel better by training them to come to you when you rattle a food bucket or have a special call when you have treats for them. They will not necessarily come back until it is pretty close to dark. Living in Montana, that could be quite late during the summer.

    I have had them trap themselves the first night or two after I let them out. They get to the run but forget where the gate is. So they are on the wrong side of the run, trying to get to the coop door. Every time I do a new batch, I have to herd them around the run until they can find the gate. Usually after two nights they figure out where the gate is.

    Another problem I've had is that if you have young ones and older ones, the young ones may be scared of the older ones and the young ones try to sleep near the coop but are afraid to go inside, say around the time you are integrating them. I've had to put some in the coop after dark because of this. They want to go in the coop but are scared. Eventually they overcome this fear.

    Hope this helps a bit.
  3. Princess Lay-a

    Princess Lay-a Chirping

    May 17, 2010
    Great Falls
    Quote:At this time they are in our large brooder in our garage...which is shrinking daily!! A coop and run will be a new experience. Outdoors an even bigger one! I plan to let them chill in the coop and run for a good few days to two weeks depending on how they are dealing with it all. We will be there off and on while building our home. After they go down (50 miles away) I will make the commute to check them and I will camp most likely for days while building. Yeah, we are having sunset around 9:30-10ish here! [​IMG]
  4. robk0220

    robk0220 Chirping

    Mar 12, 2010
    Wapwallopen, PA.
    Keep in mind they probably won't wander more than about 200 yards from the coop... ours won't go more than about 150 feet from the coop...
  5. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Crowing

    Jun 19, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    When I moved my pullets from inside to outside, I left them in the coop for a good week so they would know that's home. Now they go in every night at dusk to sleep, never had a problem!
  6. hd_darcy

    hd_darcy Songster

    Apr 28, 2010
    Mine also free range, and have been tucking themselves in bed at night. Even though you have 20 acres, they aren't going to use it! They will stay nearby the coop. You might have to put them in for a few nights, but they will get the idea!
  7. i would keep them in the coop for 2 whole days. that way they are familiar with it and know it's home. i'd then keep them in the run, locking them in the coop at night, for another 1-2 weeks. that should get them really good and settled and give you time to retrain any that seem to not be getting it. after that, they should pretty much know where to go when it starts getting dark. you may have some that try to roost in trees instead, so just make sure you do a head count and try to locate any that aren't coming home. nighttime is when the worst predator problems usually happen, so birds that don't go into the coop are basically sitting targets.
  8. crazy chook

    crazy chook Songster

    Apr 8, 2010
    Langwarrin, Victoria
    I am on 10 acres and the chooks free range during the day,

    I let them go anywhere they want but they never go further than 50meters from their pen & coops.

    It is just difficult to find the eggs sometimes. [​IMG]
  9. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Songster

    We have 40-50 acres of old, retired farmland. Our chickens have free-ranged since they were just a few weeks old.Once the sun starts to dim the chickens mosey over to their sleeping quarters. All we need to do is count fluffy bodies & lock the door.
  10. Princess Lay-a

    Princess Lay-a Chirping

    May 17, 2010
    Great Falls
    Quote:Wow! I have 77, so I'll be doing a lot of counting![​IMG]

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