Free Ranging Questions

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by austintxchick, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I've had my chickens in a coop and enclosed run and haven't let them free range yet because I don't want them to get in the neighbors yards with their dogs.

    We have a 6 ft privacy fence that surrounds the yard. Can they fly over that? I'm also concerned about gathering them up again because I'm not fast enough to catch them. How do you get them back in?
     
  2. sunflower4you

    sunflower4you Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What breed are they? Smaller chickens and bantams can fly more easily than large, heavy breeds. There are pros and cons to free-ranging. They are more susceptible to predators if free-ranging. A nice alternative is a portable run, like a playpen. Mine is just chicken wire and 2x2 studs for framing. It is a simple rectangle that has 4 panels that come apart to move them to a different part of the yard. It is only 3 foot tall and my 9-week-olds can fly right out of it if I don't put a top on. My neighbor free-ranges and she started with 17 chickens and is down to about 8.
     
  3. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I have one EE, one Golden Sex Link, one Silver Laced Wyandotte, not bantams. They're about 12 weeks old. I would only want to let them out in the yard for a couple of hours and then get them back into the coop/run.

    Here's their coop and my yard...

    [​IMG]
     
  4. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    And these are my girls....
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. 15shenyl

    15shenyl Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens don't get out of our yard, but they have lots for them to do. We have an acre of land with a dirt area where the pine trees cover it and a garden ther like to get into. Our fence around the yard is a 5 foot tall chain link fence. My EEs perch on it but they don't leave. The others are too big or are too old and they can't jump very high(they need a ramp to get to the roosts and the top nesting boxes). Hawks never come around because of all the mice and moles in the orchards around the house. All my hens always put them selfs to bed when it gets dark.
     
  6. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    At that age and that size, they will be able to fly very well. You can clip one wing on each bird, and that will keep them inside the fence. You might want to try letting them out for an hour or two just before their bedtime to start. They'll be anxious to get back inside as dusk approaches. You can be sure they are a bit on the hungry side when you let them out, then call them and lure them inside by throwing some treats in their coop/run when you want them to go in. I always call my flock when giving treats. It's much easier to manage them that way than it is to try to chase them anywhere! Also, at that size, they'll be much more vulnerable to predator attack, so stay with your babies when they are outside of the run... They'll probably hang around you at first b/c they view you as their protector.
     
  7. MaiseyMay

    MaiseyMay Out Of The Brooder

    I just started letting my standard size birds free range for an hour or two late in the evening. They just turned 4 months old. From the beginning I have fed them fermented feed during the day and then I give them a late snack of dry feed just before they go in for the night. When they hear me getting the dry feed out they come running back to the coop pronto! No problem getting them in at all. I was worried about that too which is why it took me so long to get brave enough to free range them. They do like to exercise their wings in the yard...one will do it then immediately 6 or 7 others will follow suit.They fly a short distance once or twice and that's it. No one has tried going over a fence yet as they are too timid of being outside the coop at this point. I suppose they will get bolder the more they get used to being out each day. Fortunately I have a lot of vegetation and a compost heap in my yard and it will take them a while to explore all of it so I expect it will be a while before they consider looking beyond the fence. Most of the area they are in has a tall privacy fence....but there is a part that is only the shorter chain link. It will only take once having to chase a chicken for me to clip some wings!
     
  8. austintxchick

    austintxchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Awesome info, thank you, guys! So, if I clip the wing, do you know if they can still fly a couple feet up to their perch? I don't want to take that ability away from them.
     
  9. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener True BYC Addict

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    Yes, they'll be able to get up to the perch. View some of the excellent instructions by doing a thread search in the search bar.
     
  10. sandesnow

    sandesnow Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would wait and see if they are going to even try to fly over. They may surprise you and just do their chicken thing in your yard. We just recently closed off an area where they could get out to our larger field. They have a 1/4 acre of our yard to do their thing in. I didn't mind them using the rest of our acreage, but they seemed to always go over into the neighbors yard. Our youngest ones are about 28 weeks old now. Oldest are a year and a half. I rarely if ever see them even try to fly. (Other than to get up on their perches) We have 5 hens, all Red Sex Links. We started free-ranging at 17 weeks.

    Quote: A hand full of dried oatmeal, and they think you are giving them the treat of a life time! They come so fast when they see you toss some on the ground. The trick is to make sure they see you toss it out though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014

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