Help! Chickens stopped freeranging

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Mortimer, Apr 22, 2009.

  1. Mortimer

    Mortimer In the Brooder

    May 6, 2008
    SW of Wichita, KS
    We have a flock of about 25 mixed RIR's, BR's and Delawares.

    We let them freerange over our 4 acres, they did find last summer, hardly fed them anything other than table scraps a few times a week and the occasional scoop of scratch.

    This winter I started feeding them layer mix and scratch regularly, with the cold weather they would often stay in the coop and I figured with the lack of greens/bugs they would need some regular feed.

    Now that the weather's nice again they won't free-range the property like they used to! They just stand at the back door pooping on my porch all day, and swarm upon anyone that comes out the door expecting food.

    How do I get them ranging around the property again? Grass is green, sprouts coming up everywhere, bugs . . . any suggestions are appreciated!

  2. CrazyBirdLady

    CrazyBirdLady In the Brooder

    Apr 20, 2009
    Salem / Redgranite
    I would imagine if you're not offering them food from any other source they will eventually get hungry enough to free-range. Just a guess as I don't think chickens will starve themselves to death.
  3. hikerchick

    hikerchick Songster

    Apr 6, 2009
    Dover, PA
    You have raised a generation of welfare chickens.
  4. Um, or maybe there's a monster out there? Any sign of predators? They may be telling you it's safer close to home. Do you have a fully-protected run in case you discover sign of predation?
  5. Chicky Tocks

    Chicky Tocks [IMG]emojione/assets/png/2666.png?v=2.2.7[/IMG] Ru

    Oct 20, 2008
    Benton, Arkansas

    Maybe if you could go out into the pasture where they used to range and widely scatter some scratch. Maybe then they'd get the idea and they wouldn't starve in the process of retraining them.
  6. Mortimer

    Mortimer In the Brooder

    May 6, 2008
    SW of Wichita, KS
    Quote:HAHA -- it seems we have! Darn freeloaders . . .

    Quote:We've never had much of a predator problem here. An opossum somehow got into the coop once over the winter, and I discovered it nearly dead the next morning when I went to let them out. Didn't see any wounds on it, so I don't think the roos hurt it, I think maybe it was poisoned or something and ended up at my place to die. Other than that, nada.

    The "run" is somewhat protected, cobbled-up weldwire and chainlink fence around the coop area 4'-6' high. They just fly over it when they want out.

    I may try luring them out towards the pasture/treeline area and throw out some scratch as ChickyTocks suggested, that seems to be where they spent most of their time foraging last summer. But I'm afraid that will still give the impression that I'm the food source.
  7. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    How warm is it where you are? We've been hit with some suddenly warm weather and my free range flock is pretty much laying in the shade close to the house during the hottest part of the day. They've been heading to the meadows (their usual foraging grounds) later in the day, when it starts to cool off.

  8. Mortimer

    Mortimer In the Brooder

    May 6, 2008
    SW of Wichita, KS
    Quote:Weather has been beautiful lately, mid-60's and sunny. Today we had a "heat wave" at 85.

    The kids are in the back yard now enjoying the weather and invading the "turf" they've established by the back porch, maybe that'll scare them off [​IMG]
  9. DarkWolf

    DarkWolf Songster

    Nov 11, 2008
    Murray Kentucky
    Maybe if you take away the feeder and start throwing food out onto the ground for them to get back into scratching for. Toss it out further and further from the coop each time and they might pick back up at the idea of "Blast! I've actually got to LOOK for food now!"
  10. Glenda L Heywood

    Glenda L Heywood Songster

    Apr 11, 2009
    I am amazed that cickens lived just on what they foraged?
    Did you get eggs from them last yr?
    I suppose if you starve them into foraging the cost will go down?
    I always felt I was the keeper and that they depended on my feeding them?
    It will be interesting to see what you do to get them away from the house?
    I thin they learned to come to the back door for treats as one calls them?
    thus associating food and the back door?
    you have to keep the food with in the chicken coop I would say?

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