Freerange Question


10 Years
Mar 15, 2009
south dartmouth ma
Is it as simple as opening the gate? Will they come back too roost?
Also for the first time should I let them out at the end of the day or will that not matter
Unless I'm going to be around all day I'd wait until later in the afternoon to let them loose...maybe start 30-45 minutes before sunset. Mine figured out right away the time to head back into the coop at bedtime, let their instinct work instead of trying to chase them around--herding chickens is about as simple as herding cats. The other thing that helps is, if you are a 'treat' person, have BOSS or scratch in a scoop or can, then shake it each time you bring it out to give them---when mine hear that sound they come running/flying towards us--cracks us up! Good luck!
After your hens are used to their coop they will return on their own. I leave the door open after feeding them and they come out to free range for an hour or two and then go back in on their own. I feed them first or they follow me around.
yes- if they have been staying in a coop/run, and are well established there, then on a nice day, just leave the door or gate open. They won't wander far, but stay around and watch them explore your world. Beware, all gardens need to be fenced, there is nothing a hen loves more than a newly sprouting garden, and it will be rototilled all over again.

They will go back to the coop at dusk, and put themselves away. However, if you are not going to be home, it is handy to be able to put them away in the middle of the day. I will take down a can of scratch, and each and every time I feed them, I call to them here chick, chick chik. They will generally come running, or use a long stick, tap the ground on either side of you and say 'hut,hut,hut' walk slowly, keeping the hens between you and the gate, using the stick to extend your reach, and keeping your hens moving toward the gate. Only get close enough that they move away from you, and move again, to get them to move again. Many people think the faster I do this, the less time they will have for getting away. That is wrong and upsets the birds. Just move slow, tap the ground or the back of a hen not going in the right direction. Once you get a few in the run, they find the scratch, the rest will follow quickly, and won't even notice you closing the gate.

The reason I mention this is especially in the winter, the early dark time, is when I will get hit by a predator. So I like mine locked up by then.

You can start out by letting them out in the afternoons, close to dusk. As they prove to you that they know their coop is home, start increasing the time by letting them out an hour earlier each day. If they are used to their coop they should return to it willingly each night and for egglaying. Don't fret if they don't go in the minute it starts getting dark. My younger birds especially like to push it close to dark before actually entering the coop.
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I have two trash cans with boss & laying pellets next to my coop & all I have to do is open one & they will come running. Then I throw a few hand fulls in the coop. They go in I shut the door. It doesn't matter what time of the day it works everytime. I guess I got them trained. It makes it nice for instant back in the coop.

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