Free ranging separate flocks, together


Aug 3, 2018
Western Maryland
Anyone doing this?

I have two runs side by side and the coops are offset. My daughter has 19 in a layer flock and I have 14 dark cornish and 3 hatchlings of hers in the other coop. I normally have always let the layers out to free range and not the cornish as they were small. Now at 12 weeks I am giving them some freedom to learn to forage. I let the layers out at 4 and maybe the cornish at 5 or 5:30 and they are back in and on the roost by 8 a full 1/2 hour before dark.

I got tired last evening and didn't want to be out any more. I get the cup of cracked corn and "Chick, Chick, chick" to pied piper them all in their runs. I get 4 cornish in the layers run and 4 layers in the cornish run. It was a PITA and figured I needed to do something different.

The runs share a wall and I thought of a 18" square door between them as they run back and forth trying to get into the run they are supposed to be in.

Ideas? Wait until dark and sort them out?
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Range them separately on alternate days?
You can 'home' them to their respective coops,
but things might not stay that way forever.

Making an opening in the run might be the way to go.
Is there a reason they need to stay separate, am guessing space limits in each coop?
The way I understand it you only let them free range when you can be out there with them and sometimes you don't want to stay out there until dark and they go to their respective sleeping places so you lure them into the runs early with food but they don't necessarily go to their runs. Have I got this messed up.

I don't see anything wrong with a pop door between the runs that you can open and close as you wish. I like flexibility and that gives you flexibility. It could come in handy for something else later.
I have 3 coops and 3 runs all adjacent to each other. There are pop doors between them. It's my way of integration and separation when needed. They do go in to different coops at the end of the day, but not because I've trained them to do so. Usually all three runs and coops are just open to all and they just go where they want to go. The system works great.

Is there a reason why you don't want them integrated?
Are you defining separate flocks by the fact they reside in separate coops?

I have 12 hens/pullets that are the same age (6 wyandottes, 5 leghorns, 1 leghorn/americana cross), then 13 Cracker games (junglefowl/game crosses) and those 13 are the same age as each other but younger than the 12 layers. At night they roost together in the same coop. During the day the flocks will sometimes intermingle but more often roam separately, with the dominant game rooster running with the layers and the subordinate game rooster running with the game hens.

Unless cross breeding is a problem, I don’t see a reason to separate them at night. Eventually the games may start roosting in the trees and if so, they’ll be roosting separately from the layers as a matter of practicality.

I do free range mine from daylight to dark with no human supervision.
The layers are a mix of Brahma, RIR and leghorns with a buff bantam Brahma thrown in. Mine are Dark Cornish and will be for meat chicken eggs. They can integrate all they want normally, but when I want eggs to incubate for meat chicks the Cornish will get locked down separately. I don't mind unsupervising them 4 -7 at night but getting near dark I get antsy knowing foxes move more.

They don't seem to mind being near each other when out. They all hate being in the wrong pen except one brahma hen that likes to go into a roost with the cornish. She's been fairly much a loner in the other coop. When they get in the the wrong pen they run up and down the fence trying to figure out how to get on the other side.

I waited until 7:45 and the cornish went to roost. Then I could lock their run and get the layers in without incident.
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I was supervised free ranging two flocks. I have 9 bigger girls ranging from 3-5 months and 6 silkies at about 2 months. Yesterday I let them all out together and just watched for issues, only had a couple of "hey get out of my way" from my 3 month olds oddly enough!
Centered on my barn I have multiple groups free-ranging at same time. For most part that are good about going to their respective roosts in the evening as they are imprinted on roosting areas and they are particular about who they will allow to roost by them. It gets messy when food is involved just before closing pen door because then resident birds of a given pen are not as inclined to runoff birds from other pens when food is the enticement. Food overrides fidelity to pen for roosting.

My quarantine flock in the orchard is far enough from barn that the groups do not overlap with respect to home ranges so there is complete segregation at roosting time between quarantine and barn chickens. The holds even when feed is used to entice birds back to pens early.

Distance appears to be better for me so far.
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They can integrate all they want normally, but when I want eggs to incubate for meat chicks the Cornish will get locked down separately.
Is there a cock/erel in with the layers....and a Cornish cock/erel in the the Cornish? That's when you might want to 'alternate days' range the groups (for 4 weeks) to make sure the layer cock doesn't inseminate your Cornish girls.

I don't mind unsupervising them 4 -7 at night but getting near dark I get antsy knowing foxes move more.
Risk of ranging.

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