Free-ranging? should I?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 16, 2009
Southeast PA - near DE border
Hi all,
We just got 6 chickens 2 wks ago then added 4 more last weekend. They are all routinely going into the coop every night and run to me when I go out to the coop.

I want to let them free range but am a little nervous about getting them back to the coop. We have about a acre and a half and my parents love next door - another 6 acres.

Any suggestions for the first time free-ranger? They won't wander the whole 7 acres, right?


Chapel Farms
11 Years
Sep 13, 2008
Jemison, AL
Well, sounds like they know where to go at night, that's your first indicator that they will go back into the pen when it begins to get dark.

Different breeds will forage further than others. My silkies never get further than 50- 75 feet from the pen, while my Orps...well, they will run around much further stirring up leaves, eatting fresh grass and chasing bugs. But never very far, usually within sight of their pen.

I do not let any out until a few hours before dark, this way, I'm not doing "egg hunts."

This evening, about an hour before dark, just pull up a lounge chair, sip on some sweet tea, leave their pen door open and relax. They will surprise you. And after a few evenings, they will expect it! Have fun, and report back how it goes! Claudia


In the Brooder
11 Years
Oct 20, 2008
No need to worry, they Will come in on their own at dusk. My chickens would Never be out after dark. Just be sure they have a period of time in the coop so they know its home, but quarantee they will be in just before dark !!


10 Years
Feb 12, 2009
Pike Co., GA & Palm Beach Co., FL
No worries Mamma. After 2 days in a new place, chickens will return to that roost each night. Once in a greeeeaaat while a rogue may attempt to roost in a tree, but that doesn`t happen often and may never. Security from dogs and other predators is your main concern. If these are cool in your mind, let`m go. You`ll enjoy watching them in your yard. Be prepared to rake your flowwer beds. They will stay close to the coop mostly, but as they gain confidence, they will broaden their range. Doubtfull if they will cover 8 acres, though. Have fun......Pop


11 Years
Nov 1, 2008
Castroville, Texas
I have an acre but also a garden and one of my dogs, though disinteresed in the larger chickens, will chase the little ones. So I don't put them out till about an hour or so before dark and I watch them....also put chicken chaser right beside me!

Free ranging chickens keep the yard free of fleas but won't touch the fire ants, DARN! They also don't like roly-poly pill bug type insects....

Sitting with a glass of wine watching the chickens run around -- what a life!!!!!


11 Years
Aug 17, 2008
New England
I started out the same. I was a little nervous and let them out an hour or two before dark. Now they free range just as soon as someone can let them out. We have about an acre fenced and haven't had any flights over the fence and they all come running when I bring them scratch about a half hour or so before dark. I think they keep an eye out for any person movement. You know how the early bird gets the worm? Well, around here the early bird gets the tidbit (i.e. a chip or cheese ball that got dropped on the floor, unwanted crust...). It's a lot more fun to watch them free range than when they're in a coop.


11 Years
May 19, 2008
East Bethel MN
The only thing that would concern me is predators. I free range on about an acre (not fenced completely) They have lots of hiding spots ie trees, bushes, ect to hide in. I lost my first hen last year from a predator that was after free ranging for 2 years without any fatalities, after my poor little brown/red cochin lily was killed i really freakied out about free ranging after that. Took me 2 days to let them back out again. It is a chance you take while free ranging. I guess for me it is worth it to let them have their freedom and cutting feed costs in half.


10 Years
Mar 20, 2009
Western Pa
I let my chickens free range every evening. They always stay within sight of the coop. They love to look for bugs and worms. At dark they always go right back in. Whenever something scares them they run striaght in the coop.


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
Yep, you have to accept that free ranging means you'll eventually probably lose some chickens to predators.
My chickens love to free range. They do occasionally get so far away I can't see them when I stand in the yard. That's where treats come in handy.


Hilltop Farm
Premium Feather Member
14 Years
Nov 18, 2007
My Coop
My Coop
I free range my birds sort of. They are in a fenced in area. I either had to fence them in or fence my gardens and mulch piles as they were getting into them and scratching and tearing them up and eating on everything. There are pictures on my BYC Page.

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