How to start free ranging

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Kas160, Nov 30, 2014.

  1. Kas160

    Kas160 Out Of The Brooder

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    I would love to let my chickens free range in my yard, but I'm afraid to let them out! How do I know they will come back in?? Or not go too far away???my yard is not fenced....
     
  2. AAA Breeders

    AAA Breeders New Egg

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    The best thing to do is put up small fences since controlling their wander off will be too difficult. @Kas160
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Are you in a suburban setting where you have neighbors very close to your unfenced area or are you on a large piece of land with no nearby neighbors? How long have you had your flock? If you have had them in their current coop/run for at least a few weeks they have become "homed" to their coop/run - they know that is where their food, water and sleeping area is...which means they will be drawn to return to it.
    Are your birds conditioned to respond to you calling them? This is something you can do that will make the process easier for all involved as being able to call them back will give you peace of mind and enable you to have a little more control over when they return to the coop since their idea of time to go in and yours may not always be exactly the same. I have a water bottle with a handful of grit in it that I shake and then call to them - they will appear out of nowhere at mach 9 to get back into the run when they hear it because I have conditioned them that when the bottle shakes there is a tasty treat (handful of scratch, that days kitchen scraps, etc) waiting for them INSIDE the run. I use the bottle as it is loud enough to be a real attention getter and so that anyone in our family can get their attention even if they may not give the verbal call quite to the flock's liking.
    The recall can also help in doing boundary training with them. If/when they start to wander a bit outside of the area you want them to range in, just issue a recall give a SMALL reward when they respond and carry on.
     
  4. Kas160

    Kas160 Out Of The Brooder

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    We have about an acre, but do live in a neighborhood, I've had them for about two months now,but they have been in the brooder or now their run the whole time, I have not clipped their wings, is this a must do first??? I could then get an outside pen... They LOVE their mealworms, I guess I could start shaking the bag before I feed them???
     
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    Wing clipping is mostly about keeping them from flying over a fence (which you do not have) or keeping them out of trees - not about keeping them from ranging any particular distance.
    While about an acre seems large, an unfenced yard of that size in a neighborhood will be difficult to keep your birds on/in, imo, without the use of a fence. In addition to your responsibility to keep your animals from being a nuisance to others by making sure they stay on your property, there is the issue of the animals of others who will view your birds as dinner -- a fence can address both these issues.
     
  6. Kas160

    Kas160 Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 19, 2014
    Oh how true! I guess I need a fence!
     
  7. N F C

    N F C eggnog time! Premium Member Project Manager

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    We only started letting our birds outside the run about a month ago (they are 1yr olds & 8 month olds). One of us is always out there with them which isn't a guarantee nothing will bother them but if I feel they are wandering too far away or are becoming a nuisance, I use a similar trick to Ol Grey Mare's. I have a plastic water bottle with a mix of cracked corn and black oil sunflower seeds in it. When I shake that bottle, they all come running because they have learned they will get a little treat (but only if in the covered run).

    I leave their run door open while they are out and they know if something spooks them, like a hawk or unusual noise, they all charge back inside.

    They learn pretty fast, the way to a chicken's heart is through it's stomach, lol.
     
  8. maranfarmer563

    maranfarmer563 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I started by letting them out late afternoon, at dusk they go in to roost and I lock door for night. That way you can supervise them
     
  9. CdnMatt

    CdnMatt Out Of The Brooder

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    May 10, 2014
    5 of my red sex links hop the fence and free range. They seem to know the border of my property haha! They do walk to the end of my driveway and feed in the ditch. They have ted crossed the road yet! They always come back at night
     
  10. SheenaHinn

    SheenaHinn Just Hatched

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    I am wondering the same thing. I live in Montana. The temp right now really varies. I've had my chicks for about 2 months. They are feathered, but I don't have my run up so I've been keeping them in the coop. I'm out in the middle of the sticks and have no neighbors within a mile of our place. I've been too nervous to let them out in case they don't come back! Do you think they'll return to the coop if I let them roam a bit. If so, is dusk the perfect time to start?
     

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