Free roaming or not?!

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MedinaChick2001, Sep 16, 2010.

  1. MedinaChick2001

    MedinaChick2001 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 10, 2010
    All my chickens are about 21 weeks and have never been let out to roam the yard. I've always had a fence around so they can go out of the coup, but not run free. I was thinking of letting them roam free, but how do I know they won't get killed by one of my cats or that they will come back to their coup???
  2. wsmoak

    wsmoak Chillin' With My Peeps

    There was a recent thread about cats -- consensus was if the hens are full grown or nearly so, cats generally don't bother them. I see my cats get chased by the chickens fairly regularly!

    If they have been in the coop and run this long, their tiny chicken brains will have identified this as "home" already, and they will come back at dusk. You might have to catch them and put them inside the coop the first couple of nights, (mine had trouble understanding that you go *up* the ramp to get in, they just went _under_ the coop,) but after that they should figure it out.
  3. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I have two outside cats and one neighbor cat (who is an unneutered boy grrr) - NONE of them bother my chickens or guineas when they are out, even the 9-10 week olds. One cat even sits with them as if she is keeping watch over the younger ones. BABY chickens would of course be another story - I think my indoor cats would love to snack on the four week old silkies I have in the sunroom if they could get in there. [​IMG]
  4. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    I've gotten mine out in a tractor but not free ranged yet, however, my neighbor up the street free ranges hers an hour or two before dusk so that it is close to the time they want to head back home.
  5. prancie

    prancie Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 29, 2009
    cats won't be a problem with chickens that old. I do have one black cat who likes to run through the flock and make them all squawk, but he just does it for fun. My other cat is afraid of the chickens. They won't roam too far at first, and since they will start or are laying they generally stick close to the nesting boxes during the day, so they never roam that far. Try it!
  6. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    Yay Chicks! :

    I've gotten mine out in a tractor but not free ranged yet, however, my neighbor up the street free ranges hers an hour or two before dusk so that it is close to the time they want to head back home.

    When I started letting mine free-range (on my nights off), that's what I would do. I'd heard they would go back by themselves, but being skeptical, I started letting them out about an hour or so before dusk. Without fail, they all return to roost. Now they get most of the day to range when I'm off and it's the perfect opportunity to get the cleaning done!​
  7. mrsmaonaigh

    mrsmaonaigh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 2, 2010
    SE Georgia
    Our cats are scared of the chickens. Even the strays stay away now. We leave the door to the pen open so they can access the coop whenever they please and at dusk they all go to the coop themselves. At first we were herding them back in thinking they needed help getting there but we forgot one night and they did just fine on their own. These days I never close the pen unless we are doing something that needs the chickens out of the way. They are much happier out of the pen. In the mornings they come on out when they are ready.
  8. MedinaChick2001

    MedinaChick2001 Out Of The Brooder

    Sep 10, 2010
    Thank you all so much! I let them out for about 10 minutes, and they were so excited. When I wanted them back in, I just walked behind them. I'm going to let them out later today to see how it goes. I'm worried about them layin eggs where I won't be able to find them.
  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Please don't say that cats will definitely not be a problem. I have a 4 year old ex-feral, barn cat that is now an inside cat so my chickens can free range. She weighs all of two and a half pounds and can and will take down an adult chicken; even my LF brahmas. Also, squirrels, rabbits, large rats.
    Most cats are not a problem, but not all.
  10. phaethona

    phaethona Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 13, 2010
    I would try an hour or two before dusk if you can, see how they do with that for a few days or a week, and if all is going well and you want to give them more time, let them out earlier. you'll find a schedule that works for you.

    mine are out, in a fenced yard all day from dawn to dusk and they love it. I was afraid they wouldn't go back in at night and I be chasing chickens around the yard on a nightly basis, but from day 1 they head in as soon as the sun falls over the horizon, like clockwork. so don't worry about them not going in at night, they will.

    one thing I will say though, chickens hop fences! [​IMG]
    I have 4 ft. chain-link fencing and they all(some breeds more than others) have jumped the fence. the problem, I have neighbor dogs on all 3 sides that would LOVE to "play" with a chicken. I'm home all day though, so every time one of them has jumped, I go after them. I'm hoping [​IMG] that they've learned that nothing good comes from jumping the fence because they haven't done it much at all lately. so keep in mind that chickens DO fly. even with clipped wings(I clipped all mine, didn't phase em a bit)

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by