How do you get them in at night?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by CVFreshEggs, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. CVFreshEggs

    CVFreshEggs Out Of The Brooder

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    We have 20 bird babies (10 weeks-1year old) that have a large enclosure/hen house (16x20 feet). We live on 2 fully enclosed acres but I haven't dared to let the bird babies out to roam because I'm afraid I won't be able to get them back in. Tips? Advice?
     
  2. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as they have been shut in their coop and roosting every day for at last a week then they think of it as home and will go back on their own. Chickens love routine.

    If you are worried you can try letting them out just an hour or two before bedtime. That way you can sit and watch them and make sure they all go home. They have not wander far at first. Sometimes it takes them awhile to get used to free ranging. Mine have never not gone home.

    Good luck!
     
  3. Mehjr10

    Mehjr10 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If they are going in to the house, from the enclosure now. They should do so if you let them out into the yard... The only ones that i had issues with on occasion is the Guineas and that is when I in the house when they want in for the night so they will fly up on top of the run. Regardless when it is about 15 to 30 min before dark they are heading into the house.
     
  4. CVFreshEggs

    CVFreshEggs Out Of The Brooder

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    How do you handle egg laying? Only 2 are laying right now with 3 more to start anytime. And air predators? The crows generally stay away from landing in our yard due to the dogs but I worry about one of them being scooped out of the yard!
     
  5. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    First, chickens instinctually go home to roost at night, so if you have had your birds locked in for a while, they'll think of that place as their roost and go back home right around dusk. The first few nights they might not--go find those birds and put them where they belong. They'll get it within a week.

    As far as egg-laying, a hen will usually go back to her nest box to lay an egg. If they start laying around the yard, then you might try keeping them locked in until noon or so--until they've all laid their egg for the day--and then let them out to range.

    Crows won't eat a chicken. Dogs will. We handle predators by vigilance and a shotgun. We also have our birds behind a fence to keep out dogs. Hawks are different--we do lose birds to hawks on occasion. There's not much you can do about hawks, unless you fully enclose the run. Raccoons and skunks and snakes and weasels we handle by having a very tight coop, and any ventilation hole larger than 1" is covered with hardware cloth (not chicken wire).
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  6. nikischicks

    nikischicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started them out slowly and at first only let them out a bit before dark so they didnt venture too far. Then just let them out earlier and earlier. It took them zero time to figure out where to go to even when they were little. I can leave them out all day now, but, they wont go back to the run for water, I sit one up near my house so they dont try to drink out of the fish pond.
     
  7. ChickensRDinos

    ChickensRDinos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    On egg laying I agree with the above. They should be going back to their nest. If you find they aren't, shut them in for a week, then try again once you are seeing eggs in the nest.

    I do not have a lot of potential predators in my area, the biggest risk for me is neighbor dogs, but no matter what I think free ranging comes with a certain amount of risk as the birds are exposed. I have lost one bird. A predator-proof run with top is the only thing that is going to keep them perfectly safe, but then you don't get the benefits of free ranging. I think you just have to evaluate your own situation risk vs reward and do what is best for you.

    Crows don't seem like a problem. Hawks could be.
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2012
  8. nwredrooster

    nwredrooster Out Of The Brooder

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    Agree with what everybody else is saying here. One thing I would add is that crows around your yard act a bit like a rooster (maybe more like rooster-lite). They won't harm your birds and they will act as an alarm and deterent to hawks. Hawks tend to stay away from a sizable group of crows.
    As far as hawks are concerned I agree with ChickensRDinos, make their run and coop Fort Knox and then decide how much free ranging you are comfortable with and with how much supervision. I was very cautious at first but now my girls free range sun up to sun down unless I know I won't be home before dark and then they get locked down.
     
  9. CVFreshEggs

    CVFreshEggs Out Of The Brooder

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    Well yesterday I left the hen house (older chickens live there) and small chicken coop ( 10 week pullets live there) open while I cleaned. The pullets wandered no more than 10 feet and came back when called. The chickens in the hen house flat out refused to leave. I thought maybe it was because I was in there so today I opened the hen house door for 2 hours and they still refused to venture out. Guess my question should actually be how do you get them out of the hen house? Lol....
     
  10. WalkingOnSunshine

    WalkingOnSunshine Overrun With Chickens

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    punt!
     

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