Free Ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by lunchtable, Aug 26, 2007.

  1. lunchtable

    lunchtable New Egg

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    Aug 26, 2007
    Hi, I'm new to chickens. For their whole 15 weeks of life so far, my chickens have been confined to their coop and run. I was wondering how to start free ranging them. Is it easy to loose one of the flock? What should i do to get them to come back? Thanks in advance [​IMG]
     
  2. chickflick

    chickflick Overrun With Chickens

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    Mar 10, 2007
    Dimondale
    I would start by letting them out an hour before dusk. That way they won't go far and won't be out long before they'll want to go back to the coop. Try this for a week or so and then gradually you can lenghten the time. They'll either start going into the coop at dusk, or if you want them earlier, just call them in with a special treat. Sometimes it's hard to get them early, but they always come home by themselves when it starts to get dark. Have fun!
    And WELCOME! You'll find lots of helpful people on this site. [​IMG]
    And they don't always stay together. Sometimes one will wander away from the flock, or just get so busy finding bugs it doesn't notice the others have moved on. Sometimes you can see the panic in their little faces, but they call to each other and find their way back. Be careful of predators!! Make sure neighborhood dogs won't get to them. Or hawks! Do you have a fenced in back yard?
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2007
  3. rooster-red

    rooster-red Here comes the Rooster

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    Douglasville GA
    As far as it being easy to lose one of the flock... depends on how many and what type of preditors are present.
     
  4. SandyC

    SandyC Chillin' With My Peeps

    I free range and lost one to a predator (I think a hawk) a week or so ago. I am still letting them out, but I usually stay in the yard when they are out.

    Good luck!
     
  5. pattycake

    pattycake Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 7, 2007
    fingerlakes, ny
    I trained mine before I let them out by banging on their dinner plate (a snack of fruit, oats, yogurt, cheese, whatever) every time I gave it to them, so that they recognized the sound. When I finally did let them out, they'd come running when I banged on the plate!

    Recently they discovered the compost heap, however, and I actually had a couple chickens refuse to come in when I called. I had to chase them in. Then yesterday I forgot to count them when I shut them in, and woops, during dinner we looked out the window and saw a stray rhode island red casually pecking around on the patio. It's very unusual for one of my chickens to get separated from the flock (though sometimes two will) so I don't know how that happened.

    I've considered just letting them come in on their own, but I'm nervous to leave the coop door open to all and sundry when it gets dark. I'm afraid a raccoon could sneak in just after sunset but before I get out to close up.
     
  6. SpottedCrow

    SpottedCrow Flock Goddess

    Because there's lazy dog owners in my neighbourhood, I don't freerange my girls unless I'm home, so that if Buddy gets into the yard, I can get the girls away from him.
    The birds will go to their coop when it gets dark. Sometimes, they'll remind you. I've had Leghorns on my railing when I didn't get out there in time. LOL
    They'll put themselves back in when it gets dark; you just have to close up.
     
  7. cheeptrick

    cheeptrick Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2007
    New Hampshire
    I make kissy sounds when I give them a treat...now they all come running when I make kissy sounds. My husband cracks up...because I'll make kissy sounds when I go check the mail and they all follow me down to the mail box! Then I get them a nice treat! They LOVE whoever gives them treats MOST...remember that! [​IMG]
     

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