How do you call a chick home?

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by devora, May 1, 2007.

  1. OK, I’m gonna dive in here w/ what I KNOW will sound like the lamest Q to hit BYC…here goes:

    How do you get the chickens to go back into the coop after you let them out for the day, whether to run around the yard free or in a run? I read on a site about feeding them morning and evening (and calling them) so that they associate ME w/ GOOD STUFF and consequently go where I want them to. We want our chicks to cruise around the yard and enjoy their run, both. And we want them back in the coop at night, safe and sound.

    But many sites speak of feeders in the coop. And therein is found my utter confusion: if they have food all the time why on earth would ME=GOOD STUFF? If I were they, I’d stick my cute little beak in the air and ignore all the “Chick, chick, chick-ing” that I was so looking forward to shelling out. [​IMG]

    Thanx for helping!
  2. Jsto

    Jsto Songster

    Apr 30, 2007
    North Carolina
    I'm not an expert (haven't even gotten my chicks yet), but I imagine what you read meant treats. If they associate scratch or other various treats with you, they'll come running I'm sure. I'm not sure treats should be given every morning and night, though. Your chickens will always come back to roost in the evening, though.

    Chickens will self-regulate with food, so giving them constant access via a feeder is best. (Look ma, I've been learned good!)
    Last edited: May 1, 2007
  3. Critter Crazy

    Critter Crazy Songster

    Apr 19, 2007
    Binghamton, NY
    Chickens will come inside at night on their own. They have very poor Night vision, so they prefer to be inside on their roosts before it gets dark.
  4. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Feb 28, 2007
    South Eastern Indiana
    Whenever I give treats...grapes, bread, kitchen scraps...or scratch all I have to do is say...Baaaaaaaaaaaabies!! They all come running like a pack of dogs! Mine get free choice food in the coop....but when they are out....they eat bugs, grasses all day. However, they know..baaaaaaabies, means yum yums.
  5. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Our flock forages our 2 acres and are provided with layer mash and water, grit and oyster shell free choice 24/7 in the hen house. (We don't ever provide feed outside of the hen house, as the wild birds will eat it.) They still love their evening treat.

    You just have to start when they are young and be consistant. After they are have moved to the hen house, you want to keep them there a few weeks (without letting them out) so that they know it is homebase. Always give a treat at the end of the day where you want them to end their day. Then after you start letting them out of the hen house, they will always return at the end of the day. This is helpful if you need to get them locked up before dark, too.

    When our flock was about 4 weeks old we started "treating" with plain yogurt w/active cultures and crushed garlic. By "treating", I mean that I held the container so they could see it, and said "I have Treeeats!" in a sing-song way.

    Ever since then, if I have a container in my hands, they come running to see if I have goodies for them. (They get very disappointed when it's just the empty egg basket and they let me know it.) Every night I still sing the "I have Treeeats!" and they all come running from all corners of the farm to the hen house to see what is being handed out for the evening goodie. Sometimes it's hard to get to the hen house because they crowd my feet! [​IMG]

    I usually put the treat on top of some feed in some take-away food trays. They are easy to wash and can be put in the recycle bin once they are cracked. Some treats we feed include: plain yogurt w/active cultures and crushed garlic, low-sodium cottage cheese w/crushed garlic, chopped organic veggies or fruits, organic oats, chopped hard cooked eggs, and in winter, corn on the cob.

    We do have birds that head for the hen house at dusk, but we also have a few that would stay out all night, if we would let them. So I do a head count at night while they are eating their treat.

    A great thing about giving treats at night is I can observe the flock right before they are locked up for the evening. I usually stay for about 30-40 minutes watching. I can see which aren't eating, if any are limping, not breathing right, or are being picked on. If a bird needs isolated, this is the perfect time to take them to the infirmary. I can also see that everyone is fine and no one is missing.

    I think treating is fun. But I only give enough that the flock can finish within ~10 minutes, and keep the sodium and sugar levels low. Remember that once they are eating anything other than commercial feed, they need grit. Layers also need access to layer feed and oyster shell.

    You still want your flock to get most of their nutrition from the feed you provide 24/7. The birds won't overeat. And they will always associate you as the treat giver. [​IMG]

    Last edited: May 2, 2007
  6. Thanks everyone for answering. Since I'm new to this I appreciate all the details I can get. I have heard that the occasional bird out-and-about might NOT come in, and that was one of my concerns. So I need to train them, as I had mentioned, to associate me w/ something yummy (I had no idea that might be garlic and cottage cheese!). So this means treats every night, even if a it's just a little thing, right? Whoa, no more weekends on the coast! The babies must be attended to!
  7. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Oh yes, Devora! They love all those things. Like the others, I call the girls back to their coop with treats. I mix it up, depending on what I have at the moment. Yogurt, cottage cheese (rarely), scratch, fruit, cooked oatmeal, and even a little cat food if they need the extra protein during a molt. A favorite is yogurt with a little lay mash mixed in and a sprinkle of AviaCharge 2000 (a poultry supplement) on the top.

    The key to this working well is to remember that their poultry food is their primary diet along with whatever they find free ranging. Treats are just that, treats. They should be small in number and infrequent so that they know they're getting something really special. Overdo it and you risk the possibility of them wanting only treats.

    Like Keljonma said, treat time is a wonderful time to really observe your flock. It's one of the few times they're all doing the same thing at the same time!
  8. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Yes, I have a couple girls that after treat time like to sit on the roosts and tell me about their day! It's a hoot! [​IMG]
  9. Backyard Buddies

    Backyard Buddies Songster

    Jan 11, 2007
    Orange County, CA
    Mine too Keljonma! It's a hoot, too. All of my girls "talk" to me, but it's always funny when one of them will talk, wait for my reply, talk some more, cock their head to the side and wait for me to talk, and so on. It's also the time that a couple of my girls actually seek out to be held. Snack time definitely has it's benefits for us as much as them. [​IMG]
  10. Cheri

    Cheri Songster

    May 6, 2007
    Dayton, TX
    I can't wait until mine do that. I think mine are all cockerels tho.

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