How to Free Range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by stevejr03, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. stevejr03

    stevejr03 Out Of The Brooder

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    I am a newbie who just bought three 1yr old RIR's and am really happy with them. I want to be able to let them free range in my yard but am worried abour how to get them back into the coop at night. The first day I had them, they all got loose and it was really hard to catch them! I have a few questions about how to "free range..."

    I have 1 1/2 acres that isn't totally fenced, but borders woods. Do I need to worry about them running away like a dog or will they stay close?

    How do you train them to go back to the coop at night so they aren't eaten by predators?

    Thanks!
    Steve
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Try locking them in the coop for about a week. Once you do start letting them out again, do so an hour or two before sundown. Increase the amount of outside time as they prove to you they know to go back in the coop in the evenings. After a week they should realize the coop is home and want to return to it to roost.
    Do you have a rooster? IMO, roosters are invaluable when you free range. He'll watch out for predators, keep the girls more or less rounded up and find the best places to forage.
    Welcome to BYC!
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2009
  3. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Don't let them out of the coop for a few days. After that, if you don't have a run (you should have), put up some loose standing wire temporarily to keep them in a small space around the coop. They will more than likely go back into the coop when it begins to get dark. Lock the coop at night and don't let them out of the coop until late morning, about 10 A.M. After a few days, let them leave the temporarily wired area to free range. Call them in often during all this time with bird feed; they'll get used to coming running to your call.
     
  4. stevejr03

    stevejr03 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2009
    Thanks for the advice. Should I wait to get a rooster before trying to free range? Is there anything I would need to do different if I were to get a rooster? I'm still learning about the hens and their needs and don't want to get ahead of myself.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I'd get a rooster as soon as I could; however, even without one, I'd still let the hens free range rather than keeping them enclosed in a coop every day. They do need a rooster to take care of them for you.
     
  6. stevejr03

    stevejr03 Out Of The Brooder

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    joebryant,

    I have them in a 4'x8' area that is totally enclosed and has room to roost/sleep/lay. Is this sufficient in your opinion? Got the design from BYC. It's the Playhouse design.

    thanks!
     
  7. stevejr03

    stevejr03 Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 30, 2009
    this may sound like a dumb question, but with a rooster won't I have to worry about fertilized eggs? Does this change whether I can eat the eggs or not?
     
  8. sethsleader

    sethsleader Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Firstly [​IMG] ! Im a new egg too, but Ive found that treats are good for training as with most animals!!! At first every time I called my girls in I'd clap and throw dried meal worms into the coop, they'd race inside! Now when I clap and in they go, sometimes I treat them with a handful of worms sometimes I don't. They know where its safe so they always go to the coop when it starts getting dark. I don't have a roo but then again I don't have as much land as you.
     
  9. sangel4you

    sangel4you Chillin' With My Peeps

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    yes, you will probably have fertilized eggs which in a way is good if you decide you want more chickens and you want to incubate them or let one of your hens go broody, however you can still eat the fertilized eggs, it's just better to collect them in a daily basis to prevent your hens from going broody on them and encouraging them to grow. Your eggs if fertilized may have a speck of blood in them, but it's fine to eat and you prob wont notice any difference.
     
  10. sangel4you

    sangel4you Chillin' With My Peeps

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    btw, I too don't have a roo, but friends of mine have lots of both, and I actually plan on trading them a later for a roo when my girls get a little older soley for their protection.
     

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