Free Ranging Question

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by treekatie, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. treekatie

    treekatie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Aiken Co., SC
    I have a flock of about 25 birds that are around 5 months old. They have been in a closed run their entire lives. I would like to let them out from time to time to free range but don't know if they'll come back to the run. Do you think they'll come back at feeding time? How do I do this?
     
  2. Darklingstorm

    Darklingstorm Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 10, 2011
    Durant, Oklahoma
    Actually most people suggest keeping new chickens in the coop for like a week before letting them forage so that they will come back to the coop. You might actually have to encourage yours to venture out and forage. But shouldn't have any problem with them going back in on their own.
     
  3. turbodog

    turbodog Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 21, 2010
    Independence, La.
    Quote:When I started to let mine out I just propped open the door and sat out in the yard to watch. They were tentative at first but once one got up the nerve to come out, a couple more did, then some more.
    Eventually they all came out and now they rush the door to be let out when I come up.

    Still working on getting them back in though. Sometimes they'll go into the coop at dusk, but most times they tend to start going into their usual sleeping pileup somewhere in the yard.
    When I see them doing that I gently shoo them back to the coop. I think they'll get it eventually. I've found that patience is important with chickens.

    Good luck with your flock, they'll like free ranging. Be aware that you might lose some to predators this way though.
     
  4. annaraven

    annaraven Born this way

    Apr 15, 2010
    SillyCon Valley
    Start using a specific word, like "TREATS", whenever you give them treats, if you don't already. Then, when you want them back in the run, call out "TREATS" and watch them coming running.
     
  5. Love2Homeschool

    Love2Homeschool Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 1, 2011
    Texas
    We let ours out a few days ago. They were tentative at first, but then they loved it. They stayed together in a group that first day and wandered around together. Now they go their own ways mostly. But I had no problems getting them in. They are pretty tame and I just kinda herded them in. It was probably a good 30 minutes or so until dark, so they weren't quite ready for bed yet. I think at bedtime they would have all just gone in on their own. Funny thing is that yesterday I let them out, and they all went out for an hour or so, but then they all just kinda hung out in the "kennel" all day. (I don't have a real coop, just a 16' x 8' dog kennel.) I think they were just hot and stayed in the cool shade.

    But no, I haven't had ANY problems getting them back in.
     
  6. treekatie

    treekatie Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 12, 2010
    Aiken Co., SC
    Thanks guys. I'll keep you updated on progress haha!
     
  7. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

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    Apr 24, 2011
    Roanoke VA
    I've got a mixed flock of bantams, 8 hens 4 roos. when i decided to 'take the plunge' they'd been outside in their pen/coop for about 2 months or so.

    they always sleep in the coop even tho i stopped closing the door to it after about a week. when i decided to let them out, i openned the door to the pen late afternoon (about 3 hours of daylight left). I was more worried about the dogs thinking 'dinner' than whether i could get them back actually LOL.

    after about an hour or so they all had made several laps around the coop/pen, had met the dogs (on MY terms, not the dogs'), and showed no interest in wandering off. But i shoo'ed them back into the pen (with the help of a 3' long 1x4 board to act as an arm-extension) and closed it up for the night. The next day I let them out a bit earlier, around noonish and let them wander at will. I actually lost track of the time, and it was dark when i remembered to put them up. All but one had made it back home. the one being my sultan roo, who decided to camp out on a stack of pallets not far from the coop. so i picked him up, sent him to bed and closed the door.

    since then they get out as soon as it's light (hubby opens the door on his way to work, just before dawn) and i close the door when i'm on my way to bed. thanks to my mini horses i'm also closing the coop door now, since the main door has enough holes in it to let my cats wander freely LOL (plans for a rebuild coming soon).

    fortunately the dogs biggest thrill is to run mock 10 thru the flock and watch them scatter. they make no attempt to eat the chickies (even tho they eat raw chicken almost daily 8) they haven't put 2 and 2 together to equal FOOD!)

    I don't know what to say about predators/hawks... we've had our share of possums and raccoons over the years, and i've heard some hawks overhead but knock on wood, no problems so far this year... the chicks hear the hawks cry out, and they head for cover instinctively... this equals the truck, trailer, horse trailer or blackberry bushes usually. i did witness my oegb hen flying thru the woods the other day with something overhead (guessing hawk) but she managed to find shelter and a bit later came running back home. it might have helped that i sent the dogs after her to 'go see'. maybe they scared off the hawk.
     
  8. ki4got

    ki4got Hatch-a-Holic

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    Apr 24, 2011
    Roanoke VA
    Quote:LOL thanks to my 2 escapee mini horses, I can't leave food in the pen for the chickens anymore. so they get fed 2-3 times a day when the boys are off grazing. i just call 'chickie chickie chickie. bok bok bok!" and they all come running. hubby called me the chickie pied piper today. they're not afraid of anything unless you have intentions of actually touching them I think. LOL

    got my first egg tonight! think it was the oegb, but not positive.
     
  9. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    Luckily we have never had a problem getting chickens into the coop before complete darkness. Usually, many are in the coop an hour before dark, with the final straggler (usually my oldest hen, a barred rock) coming in with a few minutes to spare. I used to do a hard count every night, but even with the little ones we just introduced a few nights ago, they all instinctively just head back, into the run for a little feed, and then off to roost in the coop.
     

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