Keeping Chickens Free Range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by LadyBroody, Jun 15, 2014.

  1. wewantchickens

    wewantchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    We are new to chickens as of today! I have 6 laying hens now and a small coop. My plan is to have them free range but initially it will have to be supervised. I have 2 dogs that I'm not sure I'll ever be able to trust with free range chickens. I want to put the dogs up for a few hours a day and let the chickens free range but how will I get them back in the coop? Should I then them out a few hours before dark so they'll put themselves up? I know to leave them in the coop for awhile but I have read a few days and I have read until they are laying. Any opinions? Thank to everyone!
     
  2. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

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    How old are these chickens you got today?

    Assuming they are adults, I would think you would want to keep them locked up for a few weeks, so they learn where home is.

    Let them out in the afternoon and they will go home at dusk on their own, OR feed them in the coop and they will run home whenever they see you put food into the coop...


    As for the dogs they can be trained to leave chickens alone. But you still need to be aware of them somewhat.
     
  3. Debby27

    Debby27 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi wewantchickens,
    I know how you feel, I felt the same way when we got our 4 little ladies.....So for the 1st couple of weeks I went insane watching them, (we have 3 fixed feral cats and lots of wild critters around here)....when it came time to put them up it was still light at 8:30 and they DID NOT want to go back to the pen....so there I was chasing them around and putting them up for the the night....One night I got tired of it and started bringing a treat with me and after that they would come when I went out to the pen, followed me like the pipe piper...lol...now all I have to do is call them, open the gate and in they go...I still give them something, scared if I don't they will eat me!!! hehehe....yeah watch out for your dogs...had a friend who's dog still wants to eat the ladies..my cats were very curious at the beginning, one in particular stalked them when they were little...but now they jump and run when the ladies get to close to them.....it's funny to watch them..GOOD LUCK!!
     
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

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    A lot depends on your coop size. How big is it? Is there an attached run? How big? The general rule of thumb is to keep them in the coop, or coop and run for at least 3 days. Depending on the size and assuming that they are not being overheated when shut in the coop, I'd keep them in the coop for a day and night, then let them into the run the following morning, keep them in the coop/run for a week, then, if they're using the nest box well, I'd start letting them out to range, starting at first for a couple of hours before dark, and gradually increasing that time. You'll need to be sure they put themselves to bed every night, and then shut them in the coop... unless your coop has a predator proof run, but even so, they should be going back into the coop to sleep. Welcome to BYC, and enjoy this most adicting hobby.
     
  5. wewantchickens

    wewantchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    The chickens are around 14 months old I was told. I would love to HOPE one day my dogs will be ok with them but I fear with their high prey drive even with exhaustive efforts at training I may be out of luck. They are constantly being me bunnies and other not-so-lucky varmints.
    The coop is only 3x8 and there is no run yet but I'm hoping hubby will build one in the next couple weeks. I don't think they'll be over heated in the coop as it seems there is good ventilation. I'll try to attach a picture...[​IMG]
    Are there any treats that chickens find irresistible to lure them back into the coop? Thank you for your responses and shared wisdom. I have wanted chickens for YEARS and just want to do it "right".
     
  6. wewantchickens

    wewantchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    [​IMG]
    Inside picture. It has 3 nesting boxes and a roost.
     
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  7. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

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    Just my opinion, but I would make sure those chickens had some "outside" time after a week to ten days in the coop. I would do it an hour or two before sunset. Then I would grab a beer, coffee or other favorite adult beverage, open the coop door and welcome them out. Spending the next two hours enjoying them.,,,,,

    A folding or reclining camping chair is a must for this.



    I would be afraid to keep them in something that size with no breaks because of the boredom which leads to chickens eating other chickens.


    PS. I just saw your inside picture, Is there a chicken door?
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  8. wewantchickens

    wewantchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    Yes there is a chicken door and I definitely want them to have outside time. It won't hurt the dogs to be on a tie out or in a stall for a few hours. I look forward to just hanging out with the "girls". Thanks for the input. I'll leave them in there a week and then let them out... I'll update!
     
  9. duluthralphie

    duluthralphie Chicken Wrangler Premium Member

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    Cool!!


    Our Daughter was here this past weekend. She was sitting with us having a Corona and lime, and said " This is so relaxing, I would never thought watching chickens eat could be so fun".
     
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  10. wewantchickens

    wewantchickens Out Of The Brooder

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    I'm 6 months pregnant so I won't be enjoying a Corona with lime (unfortunately) but thank you for making me salivate at this early hour! Lol :)
     

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