How to free range without fences or electrical wire UPDATED WITH PICS

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by pattgal, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. pattgal

    pattgal Songster

    Apr 20, 2010
    New Brunswick, Canada
    When I read these pages it just amazes me how people manage to just have chickens around the house. on the porch around the fields in their yards....
    How do "I" do it. I just got my hens this spring and they should be laying any time now. my dream is to have them free ranged. we definitely have the space and it irritates me to not be using it. Don't have the money to put up big fancy fencing (that could take years)
    and they could always just jump over anyway
    I know there are risks but on the other hand I am home all day and can run out on a whim. i don't want to just let them out and have them take off. our predators seem to only come out at night and the hens hide anytime a crow flies by. they take them selves in at night
    My neighbors seem to be inviting the novelty of all this (maybe i should still warn them in case they don't want chicken poo on their lawns)
    So how Do I train My chickens to be smart? and stick around? Just like the old days.
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2010
  2. texasgal

    texasgal Brood with an Attitude

    Apr 18, 2009
    Mine never went anywhere ..

    Try turning them out about an hour before dusk. See if they will venture out. They'll stick really close to the coop (or at least mine did) .. and put themselves up. Now when I turn them out they run like crazy to our house (about 150 yards away) and hang out at the house all day and put themselves up.

    I only turn them out when I'm home or going to be home all day because rounding them up in the middle of the day is a trick .. lol

    Good luck.
  3. when i first started the first couple of days i let them out an hour or so before dusk....they would go into the coop/run all by themselves.....I only let them out to "free range" when i know i will be home all day....there are 3 days a week when myself and DH are working so they can only stay in the coop with the run attached....but if i need to round them up quick i throw some BOSS in the run...........they all come running then close the door [​IMG]
  4. pattgal

    pattgal Songster

    Apr 20, 2010
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Im wondering.... Although it is a dream of mine to just let them loose it does make me quite nervous. I do want those eggs. [​IMG]
    Shouldn't I just try with one first? My husband would never let me live it down If I let them all out and they didn't come back [​IMG]
    Don't get me wrong It tortures me to watch them caged up. but its a big jump. I should go see my neighbors while they are still all around this time of day

    Another thing, we live a bout an acre away from the road, ppl drive about 120 km/h even though the speed is 80km/h. would they venture out that far?
  5. WhiteMountainsRanch

    WhiteMountainsRanch Crowing

    Jun 19, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Make sure they are in the coop every night for at least 2 weeks. During the day they can be out in the "chicken yard". Then one evening about an hour before sunset just leave the gate open. They will probably venture out but not far. They should go right back in the coop at dusk, then you close the gate. Over time you can start letting them out earlier and earlier and they will go a little farther each time. I did this with mine and have not had a single problem. I too only let them out to free-range if I am home. I have a 40 acres with tons of "wilderness" around, but haven't had any problems. They rarely go further than 100 yards, and usually stay together. They too hide if any birds fly over, and I have a lot of growth to hide them.

    Hope this helps!
  6. pattgal

    pattgal Songster

    Apr 20, 2010
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Ok here's another thing I just thought of while i was out talking to the neighbor. what will become of my garden? will they mow it down? Ive heard of ppl putting their hens in the garden to clean it up but that is usually as a fall clean up.

    I just talked to two of my neighbors and so far so good
    2 down 2 to go, yipeee [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. midget_farms

    midget_farms Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    I had one chicken escape - I chased it for 2 hours & then decided it was lost & gave up.

    At dusk I went out to close the coop & the chicken was desperate to get back in. I opened the door & in she went.

    If you want to get used to the idea before going all out try this.

    In Illinois it gets dark about 8 - 8:30 right now. Let them all out (not just one she will freak) at about 7pm. This way they wont have time to wander far before feeling the urge to come back in.

    Do this for a week or so & then let them out at 6pm & then 5.

    I now free range all of them from 6:30 am until they go to bed at night.

    I have 25 or so birds & have never had one leave or be taken by a predator since I started free ranging. I have a automatic door now that lets them out in the morn & closes in the eve.

    We all love it - & they have never left the yard. Ever! Been completely free range now for 4 months.
  8. pattgal

    pattgal Songster

    Apr 20, 2010
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Quote:Hmmm our yard is bare as far as having anything to hide under. Should I build them a little shelter? or plant a few small trees?
  9. eggbuster

    eggbuster Songster

    Apr 1, 2010
    When they are big enough that they don't look like lunch to the 10 barn cats, (about 3 months) I open the door in the morning and forget about them. It usually takes about 3 days before they do more then stick their heads out the door and another few days to range in front of it and now, about 2 weeks later some are actually making it out of the barn; a distance of about 15 feet. Some just go 2 doors down to the goose/turkey box ( I have a poultry section in the horse barn) and spend all day roto rooting in there and making things all nice and fluffy for when the geese/turkeys come in at night. The box floors are half dirt/half cement base and the bugs come in and make a home in the shavings. They return to their own box at night although one now spends the night roosting with the turkeys and I let it. I have another flock of chickens ranging out of the cow barn, and they too find their way home without fail for bed and laying without my ever making an effort of any kind to have them do so. Same thing; waited until they were about 3 months old and opened the door. In another month, I will have 2 more flocks, currently housed in chicken tractors who will be ready for the open door treatment but they will be ranging out in the cow pasture under more open conditions so we will see how that works out. I am thinking that by waiting until they are older before they see the big bad world, they become "big chickens" and are much more cautious when they are released into the wild and therefore quick to return home at dusk.

    The geese and turkeys spend all day chewing the hell out of the rest of the farm not being particularly fussy about whether it is my truck, a shovel or grass and put themselves to bed once I put a night light in their box so they could find it inside a dark horse barn. I simply go out and shut all the doors about 8 pm. Be careful of what you wish for, once they find your front porch, turkeys, geese or chickens, its all over for your quality of life. Its poop on the steps and squacking in the windows and they are worse then old dogs for getting in the way and helping out and I can tell you the milk cow does not appreciate a goose trying to steal her food at milking time. No peace for the wicked.

    I have worried about the free ranging, since I have 5 hawks in residence, but they have not shown interest in my chickens. One year and no losses of any kind. And yes there are foxes and other varmits, but they seem to be getting plenty to eat elsewhere and I wouldn't tempt fate by free ranging at the far back of the farm.
  10. MrRushed

    MrRushed Songster

    Mar 6, 2010
    Once they know were home is they will come back before dark.
    I had these red roosters that a lady gave me from her farm and they would take off with as many hens that would follow them. My neighbors were telling me they were over thier house 1/4 mile away. They allways came back home.
    I ate the red roosters and they stay in the yard with my homeboy barred rock roosters.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by