Free ranging, returning to coop/run, and different times to be let....

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Fenderville, Jun 17, 2008.

  1. Fenderville

    Fenderville In the Brooder

    Apr 8, 2008
    I have my chickens in a coop with a run that is completely enclosed with hardware cloth from top to bottom. That means when they get up in the morning they are free to go out to the run.. no doors to open..

    I also a fairly large field that I would like to let them out to free range.. The field is right next to our house and I have monitored it for predators and seem ok..

    So the question is..

    I would not let them out unless I was at home during the free ranging..

    That means they would only free range about 2-3 days a week and some evenings.

    I am wondering... with such sporadic times going out that they may not want to come in...

    Do you see any problems from letting them free range one day but not the next.. No real schedule?

    Thanks everyone.. I hope this makes sense... I confused myself kinda.... LOL [​IMG]
  2. ChickenToes

    ChickenToes Songster

    May 14, 2008
    NE Wisconsin
    They will probably get aggravated, chickens like having a schedule. With my chickens, I leave them in their run until they go inside the coop, which is usually around 8:30 at night. But boy oh boy do they get angry when I keep them inside the coop longer than normal.

    In the end, the decision is yours, so I would say go for it if that's what you want to do. I would let them free range too.
  3. raindrop

    raindrop Songster

    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    I have a similar setup to you, mine get out at noon some days, 9am other days, and not until 5 or 6pm other days. They seem to be handling it okay. I'm sure they would rather be free range all the time, but I would rather they didn't get eaten.
  4. sweetshoplady

    sweetshoplady Songster

    Feb 4, 2008
    Venice, Florida
    The easiest way to have them come in is when they are ready for bed (at dusk). No, I can perfectly understand wanting to be around when they are free-ranging.
  5. Fenderville

    Fenderville In the Brooder

    Apr 8, 2008
    Thanks for the replies..

    I thought they may get aggrevated and sooner or later not come in at dusk.. [​IMG]
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Before you let them out train them to come when you call. I use a small metal can half filled with scratch grain, cracked corn, or even wild bird seed. I started shaking it & calling "heeeeere pick-pick-pick" before scattering the treat. It didn't take them long to associate the sound of the shaking seed with tasty treats, and will run to me from all points of the yard when they hear it.

    It's a handy way to get them to come when called, especially if I must get them back in their runs before sundown.

    I leave my chickens in their runs until about 2 PM so they'll lay all their eggs in the nest boxes and not in the yard. Then I let them out and allow them to return to their roosts at sundown. Other folks are amazed that they'll always go back to their own pens all by themselves.

    I think you could let them out whenever you feel comfortable with it, and leave them out for as long as you wish. During the daytime their main predators will be hawks & dogs. If they have places they can run under & hide they may be safe from them.

    I figure I'm balancing the benefits of free-ranging with the threat of depredation. Even if I lose a bird now & again, it's worth it to allow them the opportunity to range. It makes their eggs tastier, their runs cleaner, and keeps their feeders fuller.

    I don't think they get angry or bothered if they're not kept on a schedule, or not let out every day. Of course they'll rush to the gate of their pen when I approach, and it might seem that they're "yearning to be free" but I think they're really just opportunists. If you watch them from a distance without them knowing it, you'll see them about their chicken business, content in their pens.

    I wish you the best with your birds whatever you decide.
  7. smom1976

    smom1976 too many projects too little time!

    May 2, 2008
    Pensacola, FL
    I do that.... not even knowing that it would irritate the birds not having a schedule.. I was going to post something about how to bring them in.. we run around getting one by one.. (they go under the shed making it difficult to get them back into their pen) I only let them out a few times a week but they do love it.. I would like to have some ideas on how to round them up easier..

    good idea with the can of treats. [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2008
  8. crooked stripe

    crooked stripe Songster

    Jan 14, 2008
    N.E Ohio- Suffield
    The can of treats works well for me when I want them home for various reasons. They do run to me when I call. At dusk they just go to roost by their selves no training needed. John
  9. DDRanch

    DDRanch Songster

    Feb 15, 2008
    My set up is very similiar to yours. I let my girls free range when I am home during the day. From the time they were small, when I approached the pen, I called to them and ALWAYS provided a treat of some sort. Not a lot, but a handful of scratch, pasta, rice, lettuce, vegs, etc. After a short time, they began to associate me with food and they actually come running from all over the property when I come up the hill calling them, or when they just see me. I would like to tell you they love me unconditionally, but really, they love the treats I provide..... They come when they are called better than my dog. I can put them away safe in the pen even if they have only been out for an hour if I have somewhere to go. I don't ever have to chase them down.

    As others have said, when it begins to get dark, they put themselves away and I do a "chicken count" with some daylight left so if anyone is not present, I have some light to find them. So far, everyone is always accounted for.

    Good luck, and hope this helps.
  10. chilling in muscadine

    chilling in muscadine { I love being disfunctual }

    Jun 8, 2008
    muscadine, al.
    They will definately come back to there roost. I like watching my bird's free range. It has to be good for them, keeping them from being bored or becoming stressed. I have a game roo that has roosted in a cedar tree by my front porch for the last 6 or 7 year's now. One day the power company came by wanting to cut the top of this tree off because they said it was too close to the power line. It looked like a good 10 feet away to me. [give me a break alabama power]. Anyway I had to fight them to keep the tree from being cut. Well guess what, My roo Roosco still has his tree and the power company probably think's I'm crazy [like I care] Good luck & have fun with it. PEACE

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