How far will true free ranged chickens go?

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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I read a lot about free ranged birds and then notice most posts say "in my fenced in yard". I do not have a fence. My birds have a run and their coop is inside of the run. When I let them out they are truley free ranging, but I only let them out briefly while I am out in the yard to keep an eye on them and to wrangle them up before I go in.
We have corn and beans surrounding our property that they like to forage in. It is quite the adventure wrangling them out of the fields.
So, if you have no fenced in yard, how far do the chickens go from home base?
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Nov 8, 2017
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On our unfenced acre, they go a little ways into the cornfield around it, never too far, but they never go on or across the road. They roam all around the acre. If it weren't for my several gentlemanly roosters they probably wouldn't even go that far.
As for the Call ducks, I haven't clipped their wings yet, so they are going on more and more daring exploits, causing them to even cross the road.
 

SueT

Crossing the Road
Premium member
May 27, 2015
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We are surrounded by about a half mile they could go in any direction, but our chickens stay within about half an acre to an acre at most.. They circle their coop and our house and other buildings over and over. Chickens are not going to just head off into the distance and keep going. They orient themselves and know where their home is and stay within sight of.
Also, my chickens don't cross the road, which only has occasional vehicles. But I guess they are wary of those vehicles and so stay away from the road which is quite close. Also they stay out of the neighbor's pasture which shares a fence w our yard, wary I assume of the cattle.
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Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
Mar 16, 2016
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It is quite the adventure wrangling them out of the fields.
If you get them accustomed to a certain sound that is associated with treats, no wrangling necessary. Mine get a (small) daily treat of mealworms and sunflower seeds that I give them out of a blue tumbler cup. I always shake it to get their attention. When mine are out grazing and I want them back in, I shake that cup and within seconds the whole flock bee lines for the run, running over each other and flying into fences, just pure chaos trying to get to that cup! Makes getting them back in easy peasy!
 

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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I had to wrangle two of the chickens from at least 8 rows over in the corn field. I figured they wouldn't go far, but I don't like not being able to see them through the corn either. :) The field was more enticing to them than their black fly larvae that I was calling them to come to me with.
I have very few chickens, so want to make sure they arent wandering too far.
My muscovy ducks seem to stay in sight and go to the same places over and over. Each of them have 1 wing clipped - they can still fly, but not far. I actually let them out more often as they are more reliable. :)
 

centrarchid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Sep 19, 2009
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If games are involved, they will sometimes go 400 yards from the roost. When such extreme distances are covered, it is usually because they are following a fence row bounded by fields on both sides that provide only poor forage quality. The pattern of area foraged then forms a line rather than a radius. Here my birds have an L-shaped area they forage where the roost and nests are the bend of the L. Greater distances covered during winter when forage quality lowest. An extreme distance we had with chickens that went into conifer covered coal spoils that had quality food patch dispersed widely among ground with extremely poor forage but good cover. Distance the great but not so linear. Young birds do not range as far and especially same can be said for broody hens.
 

Soon2BChixMom

Herding ducks and Wrangling chickens
Jan 8, 2017
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@Trish1974 they have been trained. They would prefer the field to the treats though. Well, let's say 1 will stay in the field the rest eventually come to me.
My mind thinks there are evil critters lurking in the corn just waiting to pounce on the chickens. ;)
I even let them out in the evening so that they don't wander too far, but I don't want to be in the middle of the corn field at dusk (or any time for that matter).
This is Peaches she doesn't always listen to me. :D
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Trish1974

Araucana enthusiast
Mar 16, 2016
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My mind thinks there are evil critters lurking in the corn just waiting to pounce on the chickens. ;)
There are!
A few years back at work I called a patient back into the treatment room and I could see she had been crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said just a few hours prior she was standing at her kitchen sink washing dishes and happened to look up through the window and saw a coyote come charging out of a cornfield and grabbed her favorite hen. So keep your guard up - fields can harbor predators anytime during the day and some (like foxes) will wait for you to turn your back and come in for a quick grab. That happened to my neighbor.

**not trying to be a Debbie Downer here, just wanted you to be aware.
 

flyin-lowe

Songster
Jan 24, 2016
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My yard is 5 acres and my coops sits on the back edge of the property with a fence line and trees, then crop fields beyond that. For the most part mine have always stayed with 100 yards or less from the coop. After the crops are harvested each fall they love to venture through the fence back there to snack on scraps. I too always yell "chickens" before giving any treat or snacks. 9 times out of 10 if I go outside and yell "chickens" they will all come running.
 
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