Going from an enclosed run to free range...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by herlilgirl, Aug 11, 2013.

  1. herlilgirl

    herlilgirl New Egg

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    May 10, 2013
    Good evening folks! I have been a member on here for the better part of a year as I have been reading and reading and reading and reading some more on chickens. But, this is my 1st post. In May, I was given 4 Easter Egger chicks and my quest had begun. I live on 130 acres with my gf of 7 years, my 5 kiddos ages ranging from 6-14, and my 2 dogs. I now have 13 bantam hens, 3 bantam roosters, 4 Easter Eggers, and 4 from a mix that I was given and idk what they are yet, but they are all hens. Up to this point, I have kept them in 3 separate enclosed runs with a secure coop for nighttime. I now want to attempt free ranging with my EE and the 4 mix. How do I do that? :)
     
  2. Messipaw

    Messipaw Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi and welcome. What you should do the first day of free ranging is let them out of the pen about an hour to an hour and a half before the sun goes down. Chickens won't stray that far from their safe place. Leave the pen gate open and they should put themselves in the coop before dark. Do this for about three days they give them two hours before dark little by little increasing their free range time. This is how I started and I have never had a problem with them returning to the coop to lay eggs or on them returning on time at night. Good luck.
     
  3. herlilgirl

    herlilgirl New Egg

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    May 10, 2013
    Thank you very much! I am a nervous wreck about the how's and when's of everything. I just don't wanna mess up and end up with my chickens gone, lost, hurt, or scared! I love being a chicken mommy!
     
  4. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    Here is the reality of free ranging. Your chickens will be much happier, and I believe, healthier. They love being able to wander around scratching in the dirt, looking for bugs, and just being chickens. BUT - there is always a chance of a predator of some sort or another coming along and getting one or two of your birds, or wiping out your whole flock. Even if you're sitting right there. Yep, sometimes a hawk will swoop right in whether there are people present or not. This just happened to a good friend of mine. I'm not trying to discourage you, I just want you to be aware that there is always a risk. We went for 4 or 5 years without a problem, but our dog died this year, and while we were on vacation a couple of weeks ago, *something* (we think coyotes) came through and nabbed my rooster, one juvenile and several hens. My folks were chicken-sitting for us, and the chickens were here in the late afternoon - by evening they were gone. The only thing we found were some of my rooster's tailfeathers. Personally, I think it's worth the risk. My chickens free range all day every day. I lock them up at night, and let them out in the morning.
     
  5. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Having a mature rooster makes a big difference, and right now I am without a roo. But also, predators have a hard life and like an easy meal, as does anyone, sometimes they will get established in the area and check out the hen house area first.

    I love to free range, but mine are in lock down, cause I just can't have any more losses. I am going to wait until I get some of these rooster chicks a little bigger.

    Mrs K
     
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

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    It looks like I have one rooster coming up. He's out of my brahma who was a very good rooster to have around people. He would just walk away and keep his distance. I like that. Never once had to worry about being attacked. We only had the one attack on the flock, but like I said - we don't have a dog, and we'd been gone for about 2 weeks, so except for people coming in the morning and evening to let chickens out and lock them back up again, there was no activity near the coops. We have a big corn field next to the area where the coops are, and the last time we put corn there, all my chickens and barn cats were cleaned out within a couple of weeks. That fall when we took the corn out, 3 coyotes ran out of the field....
     

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