Freedom Rangers like to sleep outside at night.

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by lincoln, Nov 3, 2010.

  1. lincoln

    lincoln New Egg

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    Jun 11, 2010
    I've been free ranging my rangers, using a tractor to keep them in at night, and giving them the run of an area enclosed in electrified netting during the day. They have decided, without any input from me, that they'd prefer to sleep outside at night. My plan was to move the tractor every 3 or 4 days to give them a new patch of ground to sleep on, but I've been leaving it where it is just so they can find "home" each night. That hasn't seemed to matter. A few will wander into the tractor, but for the most part, all of them prefer to sleep in the bushes, around the outside of the tractor, next to trees - you name it. I'm worried that some four-legged critter will get through the netting and eat them before I do. Have any of you experienced anything like this? What did you or do you do to remedy the situation? I've thought about luring them with some corn, but I'd be surprised if it'd work. I want them in the tractor at night to keep them safe and protect them from the elements, but i'm not interested in carrying 98 birds into the tractor each night. Tonight I just left them out, but I'm not interested in doing that every night.

    If you have any thoughts or suggestions, send them my way.

    Thanks,
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    I will be doing something similar so I hope you figure this out before I have same problem. What time of day do you move tractor?
     
  3. lincoln

    lincoln New Egg

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    Jun 11, 2010
    i've tried both the morning and evening, with them in or out of the tractor. I've tried putting a feeder in the tractor, carrying them in, herding them with a broom, but all they want to do is stay outside. I think one thing I need to try is to lure them into the tractor with some corn or their feed around 5pm when they're still pretty active. Any later and they seem to start slowing down, and just dont' want to move. That's what I'm going to try tomorrow anyway.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Have they ever imprinted to the tractor? If not, then you may have to confine them to tractor as if it were a coop for a few days and nights. Then start moving. I had similar small scale experimental problem with chicks. See following thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=415571

    I
    do not recommend anything like shown but problem I had was similar. Birds had to be confined to "alien roost" for a few day night cycles. Thereafter, I can move the tub at least 50 feet and they will find it next time the go to roost. I do not know what distance limitation exist.

    Luring with food did not seem to work with me. Brain function of feeding and roosting behaviors do not seem related and may conflict.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2010
  5. lincoln

    lincoln New Egg

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    Jun 11, 2010
    Quote:That's what I don't understand. I've heard/read the same thing elsewhere and kept them in the coop for about 5 days while waiting for my fencing, and for the purpose you mentioned above. When I do move it now, it's only the length of the coop itself so they don't loose where it is. I'm sure they're just confused, so I may have to trying cooping them for a few days so they begin to understand the purpose of the coop.
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    lincoln,

    Could you provide a brief history of your birds and how you set this up? Could be informative.
     
  7. lsv313

    lsv313 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    How old are your meaties? We ran into this for a while with ours. For about the first week after we opened their tractor to let them free range, they would sleep all over the place. My husband and I would pick them all up, one by one, and put them in their tractor to lock them up every night. I'm not sure why or how, but after about a week or so of doing this, they "got it" and started putting themselves to bed in their tractor. We also moved the tractor regularly to different points in the yard, and they still put themselves in every night. I think they were about 2-3 weeks old at the point where they were doing it themselves.
     
  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Two to three weeks post hatch? My birds cause me a bit of a problem at that age without attending adults in that they pile up when it gets cold. These chickens tractors, do they have chicks elevated above ground / flat surface or do they roost on some sort of poles?
     
  9. lincoln

    lincoln New Egg

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    Jun 11, 2010
    Apparently, they've had a change of heart. For a couple of nights, I tried to herd them into the coop with a broom, but none of them would really stay in the coop while I was trying to coerce the remainder that the coop was the best place for them. Sunday morning was a chilly and windy morning, and at about 9am, I noticed that they were all in the coop. They had been out all night so I didn't really know what was going on. I checked for predators, and anything else that seemed out of the ordinary, but all was well. I think they finally realized that the coop provided them some protection from the elements, and that it was better to be there than outside in the wind. Whatever it takes, I don't care. I guess we could say they figured it out for themselves.

    Here's a brief history as centrarchid requested. I'm not sure what details you're interested in knowing, so if i don't include something, just ask.

    - 100 In the brooder after pickup from the post office.
    - only two losses while in the brooder.
    - In the tractor @ 4 weeks. It was chilly at the end of the third week and I didn't think some were adequately feather to withstand the cold so I left them in for another week.
    - They've since been allowed to free range after being confined in the tractor for 5 days.

    I lost another one about 4 days ago. The bird's death was due to a leg issue I believe(had trouble walking), but I'm unsure. I examined the leg for swelling and range of movement, but everything seemed fine and not a peep from the bird while I was checking him over. I believe he just could not get enough water or food. He looked good despite his struggles - which seemed weird to me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  10. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Quote:Lincoln,

    Something I will be attempting next round is laying tub on side in brooder on its side a few days before chicks to be moved outside. Heat lamp will be turned off at night. Will play around with system to get chicks into tub for sleep. Temperature may need to be lowered. When time to move to tractor, I will be taking chicks out at night while in tub and lay it on side within tractor. My logic is chicks will be imprinted on tub as roost. Hopefully they will associate tractor with tub as suitable cover. Then pull tub. Cold and / or rainey snaps would be very stressful for young chicks.

    One-hundred chicks may require multiple tubs.
     

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