Freeranging chickens

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by MAllen, Sep 12, 2009.

  1. MAllen

    MAllen Get In The Game

    Aug 23, 2009
    Claremore, OK.
    Hi All,

    My coop & run is in a 1 1/2 acre fenced field. I just got my adult chickens a week ago, I'd like to let them out to free range the field but I'm not sure they would go back into the pen at dark. Will they? Is there some trick to getting them to go back in, a light in the coop perhaps? I don't want them to roost in the trees. Thanks.

  2. citrusdreams

    citrusdreams Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 4, 2009
    I'm sure other peoples' responses might vary, but I'd keep them in the coop and run for six weeks before letting them out to free range. Chickens like to sleep at home and once they know where home is, they'll return.

    I would not keep a light on for them. They'll start coming back as the sun starts going down. You may have to usher a few stragglers in that might get confused as to how to get back in the pen, but they'll want to come back home to sleep.

    how many chickens do you have and how old are they?
  3. sonew123

    sonew123 Poultry Snuggie

    Mar 16, 2009
    onchiota NY

    Most of the time you would leae the new girls locked up in the new coop for a week or so-then let them out. This engrains their "home" and nesting site in their minds. Mine free range all day-come home to lay eggs and wander off again. By 7:30 pm all I basically have to do is ahead count because they have ALL gone back into their coops and pens for night night lovings! They know where their food and water is now so they feel safe to wander and return when they feel like it.
  4. Olive Hill

    Olive Hill Overrun With Chickens

    Apr 19, 2009
    I would leave them penned up a bit longer -- another week, probably -- to really reinforce that the coop and run are "home base". Then, go ahead and let them out. If you're really concerned they're going to run off let just a few out at a time. Adding a few more every third day or so until all are allowed to go out at once.

    Invariably there will be a few that need to be "herded" into the coop at night for the first few days but they get the hang of the routine pretty quickly and will put themselves to bed at dusk each night in no time. [​IMG]
  5. retiredwithchicks

    retiredwithchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 27, 2009
    Byrdstown, TN
    I just moved 10 chickens from the brooder area to a coop and run. They would not go in by themselves until I physically put them in for 3 nights and locked them up. I would leave them inside for a few days and let them learn to roost there and then try letting them out for a while. But, keep an eye that they do return each night/count them. Giving them treats inside might bring them in also.
  6. Cherokeerainbow

    Cherokeerainbow Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 23, 2009
    Turner, Maine
    Everyone has given excellent advice. The only thing different are the times. (anything over a week is what I usually tell folks)
    It's amazing really...I have to 'put' my horses in and the dogs, but the hens will put themselves to bed! Nice!
    The only 'extra' I have to offer, is to please watch out for sky predators too. I don't usually let mine out till I'm home from work. They usually have about 2-3 hrs to range before bed. (also helps, as they lay in the morning...which means I don't have eggs here and there in the stinky one is enough to learn that lesson!)[​IMG]
  7. mstricer

    mstricer Overrun With Chickens

    Feb 12, 2009
    I left mine in coop for a few days then gave them a little bit of run time at sundown, then slowly increased space/time out of coop. Always at sundown. After a week or so I let them out after i came home from work. I dont chase them I just wait till its almost dark go count then lock up. You can always round them back up in run with their food. I feed mine at night. Brings them home. good luck
  8. MAllen

    MAllen Get In The Game

    Aug 23, 2009
    Claremore, OK.
    Thanks for all the info and help guys! I have 4 adults (sorta), they are 19 weeks old, a roo & 3 hens in a breeder pen. Then 17 three week old pullets locked up in the coop that have not been out in the coop run yet. And 25 buff Orpington (mostly) chicks that I just hatched over the last few days.

    Guess I'll give the NH Red breeder another week then try them out of the pen. Thanks again!!


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