If I Let My Chickens Free Range During The Day Will They Return?

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by inurb, Apr 21, 2009.

  1. inurb

    inurb New Egg

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    Apr 21, 2009
    SE PA
    I have a 10'x8' shed that I want to convert to a coop. Now this shed is located in a half acre field that is fenced in with a chain link fence that is 5' high.

    My questions to you poultry professionals are:

    Will the chickens come back to their coop at dusk or will they sleep in the field? (Field is just mowed grass, no shrubs or bushes)

    If I clip the wings do I still have to worry about chickens getting over the 5 foot fence and into my neighbors yard?

    Basically I just want to know if I am forced to build a run even though I have a 5 foot fence all around the field.

    Thank you so much!
     
  2. willowcol

    willowcol Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 10, 2008
    Macclesfield NC
    As long as they have been in the coop for a while they will. I let mine out everyday and at dusk they go back in the coop.
     
  3. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    Keep them locked in for about a week. When they are first released, they won't travel far from the hen house, because chickens are cautious that way. As they get used to their new outdoor environment, they will go farther from the hen house. They should make it back to the hen house by dark. Especially if you keep their food and water inside. If you have a light on at night in the hen house, any stragglers will head towards the light.

    If you clip their wings, they won't be able to fly away, but they also won't be able to fly from predators.

    ETA: Our 2 acres is fenced and our flock has never tried to fly over the fence. As long as you have good pasture (clover, dandelion, ryegrass, alfalfa, etc.) they won't look far for food.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  4. Chicks_N_Horses

    Chicks_N_Horses Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    South Alabama
    I let mine out in the mornings and the hens (the ones that free range) will go back into the coop to lay their eggs and then they all go in about dark every day like clockwork.
     
  5. inurb

    inurb New Egg

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    Apr 21, 2009
    SE PA
    Thanks for the fast responses. I plan to open the shed door when I leave for work in the morning and then at night simply close the door.

    keljonma I didn't think about keeping the food and water inside the shed, that makes perfect sense keeping it inside.
     
  6. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    I kept my ducks in thier pen for the longest MN winter EVER I swear and now that it is nice I let them out to roam and every evening, like clockwork, as soon as the sun starts going down they come up from the pasture and wait for me to lock them up for the night [​IMG] Only had to hunt them down the first two times and thats all it took for them to learn the rules.
     
  7. ctychix

    ctychix Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2009
    San Francisco East Bay
    I hate to be negative but I just learned the hard way that even though you think a parameter fence will keep your hens safe, it doesn't always. I kept mine in a secure coop at night and would let them out in the morning well after daylight, they have plenty of shrubbery to hide in. The problems is you can't control what comes over your fence, I had a fox kill one of my hens just recently, I live in California suburbia. I am now having my husband build me a coop/run combination, and will only let my hens out when I am out in the yard as well.
     
  8. sparkles2307

    sparkles2307 Terd of Hurtles

    thats why we lock them up at night
     
  9. keljonma

    keljonma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    There are quite a number of fox and feral dogs in our area. But in 4 years, we haven't had any predators attempt to come over the fence. Probably because our Great Pyr is always out with the flock.
     
  10. ctychix

    ctychix Out Of The Brooder

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    Apr 15, 2009
    San Francisco East Bay
    If you have a dog it will keep your enclosure safe during the day from ground predators, I'm not sure about hawks. I believed that the predators only came at night, but was saddened to find out that hungry fox hunt during the day, and will come back for more once they have found your flock.
     

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