Letting chickens out to forage

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by mychickens, Sep 5, 2010.

  1. mychickens

    mychickens Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 8, 2009
    Eastern Shore, MD
    I live in town on an acre lot, I have trees around my property but no fence and I really enjoy letting my chickens out a few times per week( I would like to let them free range but can't) I have neighbors all around me so I have to keep them close. Right now I let them out about an hour before they go to bed so that they will return to the coop on their own. Also I have a bell that I ring every time I feed them / give them a treat in hopes that they will hear that bell and come running. This doesn't work all the time. Does anyone have any other ideas as to how I can round up my flock when I need to?
  2. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Go to Home Depot and buy four 50' rolls of three-foot 2-x4-inch wire for $27 per roll. Put all four rolls together to form a circle of about 65-feet diameter. No need for posts; the fence will stand up on its own. You can move the entire circle, NSEW, once a week around your coop/run.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  3. WoodlandWoman

    WoodlandWoman Overrun With Chickens

    May 8, 2007
    During the worst of the fall hawk migration I keep the chickens in their run. They only get out for a little while at the end of the day. I've noticed that if they're out for over an hour, they come in at their usual time. If for some reason they've only been out for 45 minutes or less, then they stay out until it's darker out. Mine seem to need a certain minimal amount of time out foraging, before they're willing to go back in for the night.

    You might want to pay attention to how long they've been out and how regularly they've been getting out. You might see a pattern in their refusal to come in. If they haven't been out as often or as long, they might just have such a driving urge to be out foraging that even the treats you're using aren't enough to bring them in. You might be able to adjust their schedule slightly, to increase your success rate.

    You can also try a different treat, that is more irresistible to them, on the days when they don't want to come in. Sometimes when you're training a behavior, you just need to use a more high value reward.

    Edited to add, that my chickens will do just about anything for hulled sunflower seeds. That is what I use when I need to get them back into the run at any time of the day. Try to find something they love more than anything else and save it as a special treat.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2010
  4. Lifetime chicken lover

    Lifetime chicken lover Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 26, 2009
    Rogers, MN
    If absolutely necessary, all you need is a long stick (or 2) (or a dog on a leash) and a lot of patience. Get behind them and very slowly herd them back to the coop, use the stick(s)/dog to keep them from straying- you just move the stick out to the side to re-direct them, DO NOT hit them. It is not the fastest way to get them home, and definitely takes some practice to get them all in at once, but it works in a pinch.
    I also agree with woodland woman- sometimes they just need a little longer outside.
    Good luck!
  5. palochknldy

    palochknldy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 7, 2010
    Palo, Iowa
    I have black oil sunflower seeds in a plastic shaker container. Alls I have to do is shake the container and they come running. A long stick sometimes helps also to catch the ones trying to run the other way. We started letting ours free roam now when we are home and at first they stayed close to the coop, but the are slowly venturing out farther than they should. I went to look for them without any treats and stick and had a heck of a time trying to round up 4. Lesson learned....always carry treats!!
  6. ChickensAreSweet

    ChickensAreSweet Heavenly Grains for Hens

    Quote:+1 Great idea!!!!

    Except I vote for 4ft-high poultry netting at the farm store if you can find it. I use mine to block off sections of my garden (chicken run) for the grass to regrow.

    Good idea to keep birds on your land.
  7. Raising Reds

    Raising Reds Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 9, 2009
    North Carolina
    I bring mine in with a small slice of bread, usually an end piece. When I'm ready for them to return to their run, I start saying "Chickie, chickie, chickens" (sounds dumb but that's what my grandmother did). I tear off a small piece of the bread and throw it in their direction to get their attention. Once they've all gone to that spot, I throw another small piece further down the path I want them to take and so on until they're near the run. Finally I throw small pieces into the run and close the door behind them once they all scurry in.
  8. joebryant

    joebryant Overrun With Chickens

    Quote:I do the same thing and for the same reason. It was good enough for her, so it's good enough for me. Gosh, I still miss my grandmother.
  9. SummerChick

    SummerChick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 4, 2010
    Somerset, Texas
    I come with treats and tap the bowl and yell "come on girls, come on"..usually they all come running.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by