Free Ranging Question

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by OleMissChic, Dec 12, 2012.

  1. OleMissChic

    OleMissChic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2012
    Oxford, Mississippi
    I'm new to chickens (8 babies in a brooder and 5 rescued "almost" adults) and every day I learn new things watching these babies grow rapidly. This website has helped tremendously so I'm hoping you will forgive what may be dumb questions.

    In regards to the 5 juveniles (4 pullets that should all be laying soon and a 3ish month cockrel that doesnt seem to crow), I built a decent size coop/pen for them last weekend and would like to start letting them out to free range daily. I have a few questions about this:

    1. Do I just open the door for them and hope they will go out to explore?
    2. Do I have to go find them each evening or do they naturally want to come back? They absolutely LOVE their Scratch n Peck feed so that is an incentive for them to come home.
    3. Do they typically like to lay eggs in the coop or will they all start to lay outside?
    4. How far do chickens usually roam? I live on 5 acres.

    Since they are rescued they haven't been handled much. I have 3 of them eating out of my hand daily now but two seem to loathe me. [​IMG]

    I appreciate any guidance you can give!
     
  2. GatsbysGirl

    GatsbysGirl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine only started coming out if I was with them. I have a couple who will still hang out in the run if I leave the door open unless the whole flock (8 birds total) moves out of sight. I would say after a month or so of letting them out they will actually come out on their own without me standing there.

    I was told that they will always come back to where they roost. Now I leave mine out during the afternoon while I am at work and when I come home they are always roosted. I count them just to be sure.
     
  3. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2012
    Springfield Missouri
    Leave them contained in the coop and/or run for at least a week. That will imprint as "home". Then just open it up and leave them alone. Some will take a little longer to start exploring than others, but they'll all eventually start wandering about.

    The will lay somewhere they feel safe and inconspicuous. If you provide that in the coop, they'll use it. If they know the nest box is there, but lay somewhere else, you've failed to make the nest box the most desirable place to lay. It should be a short step up from the floor level, significantly below the roost level, no window shining directly on the opening, plenty of nesting material, and fairly snug fit for your birds. I think the nesting material should be different than the bedding in the coop, but that's probably less important than some of the other issues.
     
  4. OleMissChic

    OleMissChic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2012
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    These are great tips! Thank you so much. It will be a week Saturday so I will let them out then while I can watch for any potential predators and hopefully things go smoothly.
     
  5. JeffOeuf

    JeffOeuf Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 23, 2012
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    Go in the coops section and look at some of the nest box designs. Lots of good stuff.
     
  6. OleMissChic

    OleMissChic Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oct 20, 2012
    Oxford, Mississippi
    Thank you, I'll definitely do that. [​IMG]
     

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