Free Ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by stormhasit, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. stormhasit

    stormhasit In the Brooder

    Jan 25, 2008
    I know this is probably going to sound like I'm a total idiot here... been searching and cant find anything on this.

    I have a yard off my birds house that is plenty big enough for them! But I am considering letting them out to Free Range for bug purposes - if I open their yard up will the chickens know to stay here at home and not leave?
  2. MissPrissy

    MissPrissy Crowing

    May 7, 2007
    Forks, Virginia
    Normally chickens don't wander too far from where they have been contained but you do have a few that might. You should be more concerned about any wildlife that learns your chickens are free ranging and what predators might come after them - hawks, possums, skunks, raccons, coyotes, weasels, etc - not to mention dogs and cats.

    Only free range if you are willing to risk the death or one or more of your chickens.
  3. DDRanch

    DDRanch Songster

    Feb 15, 2008
    There are several on-going discussions on the Predators and Pests board that address the pros and the cons of free-ranging.

  4. Akane

    Akane Crowing

    Jun 15, 2008
    They might need a little training. Especially if you have other desireable roosting areas around. Start out only letting them out for a few hours toward evening so they don't wander far before dark and pen them up before the sun goes down. Increase the time slowly and they'll wander a little farther every day returning to the area of their coop toward evening. You have to be sure you are there to pen them up every night and they may or may not require a little a bit of encouragement (capturing, chasing them in, or luring with food) for a few nights. Chickens are supposedly much easier than guinea fowl who often prefer to roost in trees and have to be taught to return to their coop.

    I've been told leaving a light on in the coop in the evening will help because as it gets dark they will be attracted to brighter areas. You can also feed them in the coop every evening. You can also feed them outside every morning to encourage them to leave the coop toward a certain direction. Chickens will follow food. I'm dealing with bantams and several websites say they'll only wander 100-300' from their coop. However that's no gurantee. If they find something interesting they may keep going. I don't know how far larger chickens range.

    You will lose some to predators. That's part of free ranging. If you aren't prepared for that or you have lots of daytime predators in your area build a pen. For free ranging an electric fence around the perimeter is about the cheapest and easiest way to help keep the chickens in a large area and the predators out but it only works to a point.
  5. swampducks

    swampducks Overrun With Guineas

    Feb 29, 2008
    Barton City, MI
    Four of my 6 week old birds birds, 2 guineas and 2 BRs accidentally free ranged yesterday for about 20 minutes when they made an end run around me while I was changing the water dish and snuck out the door that failed to close.

    Fortunately, though they'd only been in the coop 10 days and the run only 6, all they did was frantically try to get back with the other guinea and the 2 BRs left inside. It was surely amusing to my dog watching me race back and forth around and around trying to get them back through a door without letting the others out. We must have circled that fence a dozen times!

    So, assuming yours have been in the coop for a while, I'd say it they'll probably stick around. I do know tonight they ran right into their coop (from the run, I'm not ready for free ranging quite yet!) the second I turned on their night light. I may have to put that on a timer, sure made getting the coop locked up a breeze.
  6. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Quote:Its been my experience that the chickens will range away from anywhere you want them to stay!!! [​IMG] My chickens have 1 1/2 acre of fenced yard and will still try desparately to gain access to the fields on either side of my yard. They have plenty of fresh greens, an apple orchard, a garden and nice places to dust....they still like to explore other options. They all come to the henhouse each evening for roosting....if they haven't gotten over in the field and can't find the way back! [​IMG]

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