Help me do this right....letting the chickens out to 'free range'

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bburn, Sep 15, 2010.

  1. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    My run is located right next to the vegetable garden. I want to let the chickens out to 'free range' the vegetable garden. It is fenced but only a four foot fence. There is lots of good pickings for them in the garden.

    They have never been out of the run and coop. Oh, and they are 20-21 weeks old.

    My understanding is that if I let them out maybe an hour before dusk they will naturally head back to the run and coop at dusk to roost as usual.....not wanting to risk my chickens I will be sitting out there with them, favorite treat at the ready, making sure all make it back in.

    Will this work? I hate to waste what is left in the garden....plants and bugs...when they would enjoy it. Plus, there is the added benefit of the fertilizer.

    Maybe I should just let a few out the first time?

    Need advice here.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

    4,493
    15
    236
    Dec 15, 2009
    Central NY
    That sounds like a great plan. Make sure there is still enough sunlight for them to see. I assume you might not have any veggies left you want for yourself...they will eat those too! With your presence there, it should be a piece of cake to give them their "free" time! Good luck...let us know how it goes!
     
  3. chickenrunfarm24

    chickenrunfarm24 New Egg

    8
    0
    7
    Jul 9, 2009
    Norton
    Yes it will work. My chickens free range on a rotation (I have several breeds and sell their eggs for hatching, so no interbreeding allowed) I have always been able to corral them back to the run door and the last group out goes in all by themsevles at bedtime. Since you are going to be out watching over them I wouldn't worry at all, your babies will love it!!! Good luck!
     
  4. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    Thanks.....and we have stopped collecting from the garden. Just whatever is left over and they are welcome to it. Sadly no tomatoes left and they loved those.

    Will spend the day getting the garden ready for them. Making sure the 'fence' is secure all the way around. It is not, but I have the materials to make sure it is by the time I turn them out. There are 25 in the run....just seems like a lot of chickens to keep up with but have a long fence panel I can use to make a path back to their gate.

    Lol....I am being a chicken about this myself![​IMG]

    But am going to do it because it will be good for them and good for my garden!! I could not let them free range for real because it would not be safe for them where I live.

    ......will post my success or failure!!
     
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

    20,124
    3,324
    496
    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I think your plan is great. I'd let them all out about an hour before bedtime, just like you plan.

    One thing to look out for. When I let mine out of the run for the first time, some have trouble getting back in. You might have the same problem. It is not that they don't want to go back home. They desperately do. But they get caught on the wrong side of the fence and don't understand the concept of gate. Every time with my brooder raised chicks, a few go to the fence near the coop pop door and try to get through the fence instead of going to the gate to go home. Most do make it to the gate but there are always a few. I sort of herd them to the gate and they go in on their own from there. Sometimes I have to do it two nights before they understand gate. I had one Buff Orp pullet that, on the second night of me showing her the way home, sort of looked over her shoulder at me as she was going through the gate as if to say, "What took you so long?"
     
  6. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    5,312
    212
    311
    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    The first time out they won't wander too far so if there are a few spots in the fence around the garden that are not as secure, I don't think it will be a big issue. When I let mine out to free range, they are not fenced in at all. I have three acres and they don't wander as far as half of that and they have been free ranging for almost three months now. Bring a chair to sit on and watch the antics, it should be great chicken TV! [​IMG]
     
  7. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    Thanks for the reply ridgerunner. I may have to read all day to get brave enough to do this by myself. My DH is working out of town and I won't have backup. Hmmm....might be better this way really.

    They eat really well but I think this will give them additional food to supplement their diet....plus it will help me in the garden I think. Hopefully I won't have to use the bottle rocket.

    You are in NW AR....around Fayetteville? My mom lives in Springdale!

    Thanks again...
     
  8. Muggsmagee

    Muggsmagee Menagerie Mama

    4,493
    15
    236
    Dec 15, 2009
    Central NY
    Quote:Their manure will be an asset to your garden next year, for sure! Also, it's not just the food (bugs, plants, etc) that will supplement them...the exercise, new territory...it will be fun for them to scratch around and stimulate their brains...they'll love it!
     
  9. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:Their manure will be an asset to your garden next year, for sure! Also, it's not just the food (bugs, plants, etc) that will supplement them...the exercise, new territory...it will be fun for them to scratch around and stimulate their brains...they'll love it!

    x2
     
  10. bburn

    bburn Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 9, 2010
    Delaware, Arkansas
    Finally back in the house from getting the fence ready. My DSS was home and helped me make sure it was secure. We also moved the chicken tractor into the garden so the boys could have a little pecking time. Plan to move it a little each day in the garden.

    Looking foward to tonights limited free range!!
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by