How long before free-ranging new additions?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by swordgeek, Jul 27, 2010.

  1. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    I added 5 pullets to my very small flock just over a month ago. Of the new birds, one is 5-6 months old, and the other four are probably 3 months. Once they were allowed to mingle in the run (which is about 20 feet by 12 feet, but don't quote me), they settled right in. But every now and then, I sense that they want to explore the world a bit more.

    Meanwhile, my four pre-existing 2-year-old birds are allowed out to free-range for awhile most days, under human supervision. Usually, I open the door to the coop, call "adult swim!" and they come running. Then the rooster and I watch for predators while they peck around and dust-bathe in my flower beds. I think they really enjoy their time away from the high-energy pullets, to be honest! Sometimes I pluck the 6-month-old bantam out of the pack of little ones and allow her to wander with the big ones, and she seems to like it. But she's easy to catch when it's time to go in.

    So, when would you allow the little girls to join the older birds in the rest of the yard? I think they want to go, and I'd like to let them... but...

    Here's the problem: I can't catch the little ones easily. Unlike my older birds, they weren't handled much when they were chicks, and when I got them they were too skittish to allow me to pick them up. If we catch them, they'll settle down and allow themselves to be petted for a bit, but it's not their first choice. I'm a bit worried that they'll be impossible to round up when it's time to go in, so I haven't let them out yet. We have so many predators around here that I can't just let them wander around all day and trust they'll make it back indoors intact when it's time to go to bed. And if they follow the big girls, that means they'll be climbing sets of stairs to the front door, and hanging around high retaining walls. Curse the landscaper!
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
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    I would let them out now with the others. Since they've been with you for a month, they know your coop is their home, and they'll come back in the evening......I usually only wait about two weeks before allowing a newbie to free range with the rest.
     
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Oh, about catching them.....I only let mine out after work, around 5:00 or 5:30. And once it starts to get dark, they will go inside all by themselves. Maybe you could just let them out an hour before dusk....you'll be amazed when they head back to the coop on their own! You won't even need to catch them....[​IMG]
     
  4. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    Wow, two weeks seems such a short time! OK, I'm game... on a day when I know I have hours to spend chasing them down if I need to. [​IMG] It may turn into a race between me and a fox... Or a coyote... Or a fisher... Or a hawk... Or a coon... But I'm game! It's going to be so darned cute to see them all exploring the land.
     
  5. BetterHensandGardens

    BetterHensandGardens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 28, 2010
    Clinton, OH
    I agree, I'd let them out with the older birds, it's been long enough. However, you might consider getting a net to catch them with - would come in handy if you ever need to catch one or more of the newer birds.
     
  6. swordgeek

    swordgeek Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 23, 2010
    Westford, MA
    Excellent idea. My daughter has a super-long-handled fishing net, but the netting area might be a little too small. still, it could work in a pinch. [​IMG]

    Thanks, everybody!
     
  7. cpchicks

    cpchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 23, 2009
    Sonoma County, CA
    I agree with the other posts, I think the chicks will "head for the barn" before dusk. But to be sure, you could train them to come to a certain call and give them some treats. Whenever I want my chickens to go in I holler "here chick chick" and they come running because they know they are going to get a handfull of scratch. I always throw the scratch in the run and all I have to do is shut the door. It should only take a couple of days (while they are still inside the run) to call them and toss in the scratch and they'll be trained.
    Good luck,
    Cheryl [​IMG]
     

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