Going from free range to confined.....

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Mehpenn, Feb 19, 2012.

  1. Mehpenn

    Mehpenn Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 1, 2011
    Gastonia, NC
    We've had these hens (we have two) for almost a year and they've been free range since they were about three months old. They roam our property during the day, roost in a cedar tree at the corner of the driveway at night. We've been okay with that arrangment.

    My neighbor recently had something get a couple of his hens, during the day, and that led us to decide to go ahead and build a run for ours and keep them confined.

    My husband had built a coop back last fall, but the hens have done so well, we've not used it. So, he put a covered lot around it and we moved the hens in last night.

    The coop is tall, with three nesting boxes in the bottom full of hay, where it is open, and then a roost up farther in the coop, where it's closed in. They go in at the bottom and then can roost up in it, out of the weather.

    The run itself is 10x14.

    I know the hens are not happy right now, but it's for their own safety.

    I've ordered another load of sawdust/shavings for the barn and will put some in the chicken run, and also plan on moving in a small log with some branches on it, for them to play on.

    Now, they're going from free range, getting scratch feed once a day in the barn, grit and bug catching throughout the day in the yard and fresh fruits and veggies a couple times a week. They're fat and sassy hens.

    I know now that they're confined, I'll be increasing their feed, and I'll need to add something for them to use as grit.

    Do you guys prefer oyster shells or ground egg shells or something else? And how often should I give it to them?
  2. 7L Farm

    7L Farm Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 22, 2010
    Anderson, Texas
    This winter I've confined mine as well. The hawks are everywhere. My thoughts were why loose my chickens when there's not much for them to forage on any way. I have a winter garden so they get plenty of greens. I do let them range everyday when I can supervise in the afternoons. Once, the trees come back & I get another roo I'll let them range again.
    I provide mine with oyster shell in a seperate feeder 24/7.
  3. azygous

    azygous Flock Master

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    My fifteen hens and two roos usually free-range during winter, but this time a hawk killed one of them. So they've been confined ever since. Being creatures of habit, they will get used to a new routine in time. Making sure they have plenty of space and perches and a flock block will ease their transition.

    Mine have a sand-covered run, so they need no additional grit. Oyster shell isn't a suitable substitution for grit, however. If there's dirt under the straw and shavings you put into the run, they will dig down to the dirt, so that should be adequate. If the run is inside a barn with wooden flooring, you will need to supply grit.
  4. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Overrun With Chickens

    Mar 28, 2011
    We use oyster shell. Our run is filled with construction sand, so they can take dirt baths. Its very easy to clean. Our run is 22x5x5 and the coop is 12x4x8. We keep them confined during the winter. I do supervise their outside time, but there are so many redtail hawks in our yard, so free ranging is on hold until spring.

    If its below zero outside, I keep them cooped up in the coop only. It takes 2-3 days before they settle down.

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