free ranging when to kick loose.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by wvplucker, May 30, 2010.

  1. wvplucker

    wvplucker Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2010
    I have 24 birds from TSC. They are currently in a coop and run. I plan on free ranging them. Can I just turn them loose, and expect them to return to the coop at night. Is there a process, or can I just open the door and they take care of everything else?
     
  2. Dar

    Dar Overrun With Chickens

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    thats all I did... for the forst few weeks i let them out at 4pm that way they only had a few hours till dark and could not go far but by the end of the summer i would let them out at 9 - 10 am when ever i got my sorry butt to the coop....lol
     
  3. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    How old are your birds? I have 12 almost 6 week old chicks that have been free ranging during the day on my days off for about a week now. I only let them out on my days off, so I could check on them frequently. Well, yesterday I let them out and left for a horse clinic and they were out all day...alone! They like to hang out under the shrubs in front of the house. They scratch around under the leaves and are protected from the air and pretty well protected from the ground (shrubs are thick). So far they have survived. Everyone looks healthy and they seem to be growing well. They really eat the clover and grass in my yard. They have a routine. I open the door and one chicken will venture through the gate...after a look around, she will grab a few bites of clover or bug...then suddenly makes a mad dash for the bushes. By now, others have noticed the departure and they also make a mad dashes for the shrubs. Next they eat for a while...then they will lay out in the sun for a while. One will stretch her wing and leg, then flop over on her side...soon another and another are laying side by side in the sun. Of course, there is always that one that wants to walk all over the sunning girls...really irritates them! After the sunning session, someone decides it's time for a drink and some crumbles. Someone makes a mad dash...and it's a race to see who can get in the run the fastest! (That is where their water and feeder is all the time). Everyone settles down for a nice drink and some crumbles...after that they all get on the roost and take a nap. That lasts about 30 minutes or so...then it's a mad dash out of the run again for some more greens! And the whole process starts all over. In the evening I will go into their run and tap on the metal hanging feeder that I have in their run and call them or peep to them. Sooner or later one will come running to see what the commotion is about. When one runs to check it out, another, then another will soon join in and next thing you know, they are all in the run. Works for us, anyway. As they get older, I plan on letting them out even when I work. By the time I get home it will be almost dark and they should already be on their roosts in the run. I hope so anyway.
     
  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I started letting my chickens (and 2 ducks) range freely outside the run and in my rather large back yard about 3 weeks ago. Only on weekends, or in the evenings when I get home from work.

    This weekend I opened the drive gate from my back yard to the nearly one-third acre of my land-lady's property at the far end of her acre. (She lives in the front house at the road, I live in the house about the middle of the acre, and there's nothing in the rest of the property but open space for her 3 sheep to graze at will.) None of the birds have ventured out of my back yard, yet. Too many fun places for them to fiddle about. Also, it's been very warm and they like to spend time under the trees.

    But it's pretty much the same as oldchickenlady described. [​IMG]

    The Big Chickens are in and out of the run all day. The "teen" (16 weeks) chickens JUST ventured further than five feet from the run gate.
     
  5. wvplucker

    wvplucker Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Are they hard on a vegatable garden. If so I may wait til I get it fenced in.
     
  6. oldchickenlady

    oldchickenlady Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 9, 2010
    Cabot, AR
    Depends on how big your garden plants are and what they are. If they are just coming up and still small and tender...they wont be able to withstand the pecking. Chickens will peck at something to taste it...if they like it they eat it. If they don't they will leave it alone after the first few pecks. If your plants are more mature, taller and tougher, they might be able to withstand some eating. Again, it depends on what you have planted, if the chickens like it or not, and how big your plants are. Don't forget they like to scratch around in the dirt too!
     
  7. wvplucker

    wvplucker Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2010
    I may keep them in the pen a while longer. peppers are pretty small yet.
     
  8. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I'm finding I absolutely HAVE to fence my garden. Since my garden consists of a few raised beds here and there, that means chicken wire (the only good use for that stuff) barriers have to be put around 'em. They made dust baths in one of them - the only plant there is rosemary planted last year and their digging nearly took that mature plant right out of the bed.

    Just makes my back yard look tackier and tackier. Oh well.
     
  9. wvplucker

    wvplucker Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 28, 2010
    Thats good to know. I think I will put up the fence before I let them out.
     
  10. Woofless

    Woofless Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 7, 2010
    SD
    I let mine go at about 6 weeks on days when I knew I'd be around the house...and from the beginning, like clockwork, they'd be back inside the run getting ready for bed right after sunset when I came out to shut the doors.

    Mine aren't technically "freerange" I suppose- I have a fenced 3 acre pasture just for them, which they might end up sharing with a flock of sheep later this year. It used to be a pheasant breeding farm that can handle at least 1000 birds, so for just 28 chickens and 5 ducks, they might as well be freerange [​IMG]. The pen keeps them safer from critters, especially my dogs, which is definitely nice!! And I don't have to worry about the chickens in my garden- but I am still getting a garden fence up soon because of the stinkin' RABBITS we have around here!! Ugh!

    The nice thing about fencing in the garden, is that in the fall after everything is harvested, I can stick my chickens in the garden and let them eat the "leftovers" while they automatically fertilize the ground. Then I'll till everything under & let it sit over the winter so the nitrogen & stuff in the chicken poo can mellow out....by the following spring I should have nicely fertilized ground for planting!! It'll be worth a try anyway (this is my first year doing this). So if you have to fence the garden to keep freeranging chickens OUT right now, it'll be handy at the end of the growing season if you want to keep them IN the garden so they can clean everything up!
     

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