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How do I transition my girls to ranging in the backyard? No Coop.

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Chicken-Girl Newbie, May 14, 2008.

  1. Chicken-Girl Newbie

    Chicken-Girl Newbie Hatching

    May 14, 2008
    I have 4 chicks that are 6 weeks old now. My plan was for them to roam my fenced in backyard without having a coop. I was planning on having a dog house for them to sleep and lay eggs in. Right now, I put them out in the morning into a 4 ft x 4 ft pen and they are protected from the neighbor’s cats. Then I bring them in at night to sleep in a box in my laundry room. I don’t know how to handle the transition to releasing them into the yard. And how old should they be? One chick is a real flyer and I fear that she’ll fly over my fence (6 ft.) into the mouths of my neighbor’s dogs. But, if I clip her wings then she can’t fly into the trees to evade possible predators. Any ideas on how old they should be and how I should go about setting them free? Is there anything I should consider that I haven’t thought about yet? I have never had chickens before so this is all new to me and I might be a bit of a worry wort. All input and ideas are greatly appreciated!
  2. Buff Hooligans

    Buff Hooligans Scrambled

    Jun 11, 2007
    If at all possible, construct a predator-proof, sturdy, draft free coop for them to be in at night. Nightime predators can get very deadly about getting into a non-fortified structure on the ground.

    Does your fence enclose all four sides of your property? Can neighbor dogs and wild things get in at any point, or dig underneath it? Are the fence holes big enough for a raccoon to grab a chicken's head or leg and try to pull it through?

    The setup you described sounds like a predator accident waiting to happen and that would be absolutely heartbreaking to a new chicken mama.

    PS: Welcome to BYC and chicken-loving. May you have wonderful times ahead.
    Last edited: May 14, 2008
  3. vwoods

    vwoods Songster

    Apr 25, 2008
    Spotsylvania, Virginia
    When we got our first chickens ( 6) a few years ago we kept them in the old dog house. Our transition went like this. First we took them out of the brooder ( 5-6 weeks old) and kept them in a very large dog crate ( wire sided) that we attached to the opening of the dog house so that they could go in and out. At night we would close the door that we built for the dog house to secure them. Eventually when they got used to this arrangement we would let them out of the crate only when we were home to let them range in the yard. Finally the crate was removed and they were locked in the dog house only at night and ranged during the day. This worked well until we lost our gaurd rooster ( he was too mean around my kids) then without his protection we started losing our hens to a predator. Now we have just gotten new chicks and are building a secure coop 8 X 10 with a secure run 10 X 15 and will only let our new girls out to range when we are home to keep an eye on them. Can't take a chance this time. Hope this helps.
  4. Chicken-Girl Newbie

    Chicken-Girl Newbie Hatching

    May 14, 2008
    Thank you both for your input! I think I need to prepare a secure nightime enclosure because eventhough my yard is completely fenced, if something wants in badly enough it will find a way. There are racoons in our city and they might not be a problem now but maybe my chicks will attract them. Who knows? Thanks for your ideas!

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