How to get free range birds in coop

Boise-girls

Songster
May 26, 2021
366
929
188
Boise, Idaho
I think mine must read the paper - they know exactly what time official sunset is, and "go to bed" a few minutes before that. If I go out prematurely to lock them up, it takes a lot more effort on my part.

Where do yours try to roost, if they're not wanting to go to the coop?

Also, do you have an attached, predator-proof pen? If I'm not going to be around at the right time in the evening, I'll lure mine into their pen by tossing in some scratch and then lock down everything but the pop door (which opens into the pen). They'll go to roost when they're ready, and I can do any other little chores when I return.
 

Callender Girl

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Sep 18, 2018
4,666
27,722
896
North Central Iowa
I guess I'm lucky mine gladly trade their freedom for grapes. Toss a few into a coop, and even the most reluctant hen jumps right in.

Of course, there is a down side. They know I have grapes in the house, and often I have to wade through a flock of hungry chickens, positioned at the back door, waiting for their bribes.
 

Boise-girls

Songster
May 26, 2021
366
929
188
Boise, Idaho
I guess I'm lucky mine gladly trade their freedom for grapes. Toss a few into a coop, and even the most reluctant hen jumps right in.

Of course, there is a down side. They know I have grapes in the house, and often I have to wade through a flock of hungry chickens, positioned at the back door, waiting for their bribes.
I know the feeling!
 

U_Stormcrow

Crossing the Road
Jun 7, 2020
8,188
28,642
776
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
So...

I have a flock that free ranges (see my signature, below). I've hit upon a management method that works for me, and seems to be unique among BYC posters. I can't find a single study that provides the illusion of "science" behind what I've stumbled into.

In short, this is an anecdote, and as advice, is worth not more, and perhaps less, than you paid for it.

I feed my birds once a day. At night. In the run. This encourages everyone to come to the run, and thus the coop, at night for a "free feeding". Which allows me to observe behaviors, look for signs of injury, get a head count, and make certain everyone goes to bed at night with a full crop. Seasonally, I find feed savings between 20-35% against expected consumption.

It also means that the birds know they aren't getting fed again till next sunset - so when I open the gates between 6 and 7am, they are awful eager to go bug hunting and grass/grain nibbling in my biodiverse polyculture (acres of weeds).
 

U_Stormcrow

Crossing the Road
Jun 7, 2020
8,188
28,642
776
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
I guess I'm lucky mine gladly trade their freedom for grapes. Toss a few into a coop, and even the most reluctant hen jumps right in.

Of course, there is a down side. They know I have grapes in the house, and often I have to wade through a flock of hungry chickens, positioned at the back door, waiting for their bribes.

the "wade" is real. I get the same. Its like a moving floor of feathers around my feet, except when one of the goats wants to rub against me for an animal cracker. (my wife's fault -- she offers animal crackers at the gate, which the goats are destroying by standing on so they can stick their heads over the top...)
 

CluckerFamily

Enabler
5 Years
Feb 14, 2016
10,370
61,128
1,131
Wisconsin
I kept my original flock in the coop for two weeks before letting them out into the run, this way they know where home is. After that, they would go into the coop at dusk. I then got a rooster, and he tells the flock when bedtime is. Every new clutch I add to the current flock, doesn’t need to be “homed” because the flock teaches them what to do.
 

citymeetscountry

Songster
Aug 1, 2020
759
1,698
246
Arkansas
Whenever I go outside they tend to “flock” to me (pun intended) or I’ll call out “here chick chick chick chick chick” and they’ll usually come over. Some times I have to herd them. However lately I’ve been keeping them (I only have 4) in their tractor instead of ranging bc they’ve decided they want to keep flying over the fence into the front yard or to the side utility maintenance area. It would be a huge deal except my neighbor across the street (with like 60ish chickens) let’s some of his roam and several have been coming and hanging out in my front yard (which I totally don’t mind but want to keep separate)
 

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