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Free Ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by New Kid In the Coop, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. New Kid In the Coop

    New Kid In the Coop In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2008
    SW Washington
    Hi All,
    I would like to let my chickens free range in my yard for at least part of the day. I have 6wk and 3wk old chick right now. So....my question is...at what age do I start letting them free range and how do you catch them when it's time to put them back in their run? right now I let them into their run in the late morning when it warms up a little and make sure they are back in the coop at dusk. Yes, even the 3 wk olds! They are all very happy and healthy! I am just wondering if you have to somehow train them or what. Because right now I could just see myself running around my back yard for hours trying to catch the little buggars! [​IMG] Thanks in advanced for your replies!
  2. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    When you first let them out, they won't go too far from the safe haven. Chickens are prey animals, and therefore, very suspicious of new situations.
  3. chickenfever

    chickenfever Songster

    Jul 22, 2008
    Well, here's my experience: Mine are almost 6 wks old, 21 of them. I waited until they were going back into the coop from their yard by themselves at night before I tried free-ranging. Last night was first night free ranging. I waited until 5:30 PM so they only had 1&1/2 hours before dusk, so they didn't have all day to wander. They never went further than about 30 feet from coop (while I stood by watching like a nervous parent). By dusk, every one of them had gone back into the coop on their own.
  4. Barnyard Dawg

    Barnyard Dawg Songster

    Feb 7, 2007
    Northern California
    Ours free-range at 4 weeks old never venturing far from their pen. My wife will use a long stick to herd them in if necessary.
  5. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

    May 24, 2007
    Lock them in their coop/run for at least a week before you start free ranging them. Then, let them out to free range for an hour or two, just before dusk, the first few days. They will naturally return to roost in the coop each night at dusk. That is 'home' to them now.

    As time goes by you can allow them more time out to free range, starting early in the day every few days.
  6. New Kid In the Coop

    New Kid In the Coop In the Brooder

    Aug 15, 2008
    SW Washington
    Great! Thanks everyone! I also have to integrate them with my dogs. We have always let the dogs sniff them when we hold them and they were pretty good when we had them in the house and would let them down on the floor for a bit. I think I will have the dogs on a leash while I let them out so I can get everybody accquainted better. Has anyone else done this with their dogs?

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