Letting them free range.. will they run away? :)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by featherz, Jul 24, 2010.

  1. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick 8 Years

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    I've been keeping my 12+ weekers in the coop/run until they are at least big enough to scare the barn cats. They are getting to that size now and the cats are no longer paying attention to the coop.

    The coop and run is a bit small for eight birds (30SF coop, 70SF run) so I'd like to let them out a bit (I do plan on expanding the run, and we are building another coop for my new chicks + overflow - darn chicken math!!)..

    Unfortunately, I have rather scaredy cat birds AND half of them are white leghorns, which as everyone knows are great flyers. The other four are RIR/Production red. I don't even think I could catch them to clip wings, although I've read here even that's not foolproof.

    All the property around the coop is forest. Is it likely they'll come back to the coop after being in it non stop the last eight weeks? My door is about a foot off the ground, so I was planning to put a ramp to help them get in and out.

    My other option is to just hurry up and expand the run. I know better and have bought less nutty chicks for the next round. At least I hope so. [​IMG] I just know I'll open the door and poof! off they go.
  2. pgpoultry

    pgpoultry Songster

    Oct 16, 2009
    I would let them out. Chickens do not choose to leave the area where they are fed and cared for.

    My 5.5 week olds came out 5 weeks ago. I just left open the door to their run pen and out they came, at first cautiously and then with gay abandon !At night I encouraged them in with some food in the pen for the first few days, after which they automatically returned at night.They free ranged as far as they wanted from 5 weeks.

    Make sure that the cats are not interested in them when you do let them out!

    If they are to free range do not clip their wings, they will need their protective reflexes to escape predators.

    I don't know if you have any adult birds, but my roosters definitely have looked after the chicks, but be VERY careful if they mix with adult birds.

    Get your little flock used to coming to your voice. I only have to shout 'chickens' and my feather- footed friends come running from far and wide.

    Good Luck

    1 person likes this.
  3. featherz

    featherz Veggie Chick 8 Years

    Mar 22, 2010
    Saratoga County, NY
    Thanks! It's raining w/lightning today and I'll be busy so I think I'll let them out on the next sunny day just a few hours before roosting time. Then I can see them come back in, hopefully for treats. And yes, I'll watch those cats! The cats are fat and well fed and are essentially outside house cats (we have four inside, these two are from the previous owners) so I don't THINK they will attack, but I've heard that before, usually in a post with a title like 'my flock got eaten!!'.. [​IMG]

    They had plenty of run and coop space when little but I think they are ready to get out now. [​IMG]

    Oh, and these ARE my adult birds.. Or at least my oldest ones. [​IMG] We do have wild turkeys in the area, but no larger chickens. My new chicks are going in the HUGE brooder we have outside next week (6x8!) along with the guinea keets and then they'll move to the new shed coop. But they are just two weeks old and won't be mixing with the big girls.

    LET US OUT!!!
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2010
  4. dsqard

    dsqard Crazy "L" Farms

    Jun 11, 2010
    York PA
    I was worried about the same thing the first time I let mine out to free range. They had been in their run for a couple of weeks before letting them out. So far they have not wandered too far and have always gone back to the coop. I have "rewarded" them every time they go in to the coop with a treat. That way they know that going "home" is always a good experience. I also use the same phrase every time I am giving treats that way if I do have to call them back, hopefully they will connect the phrase with something yummy and come running. I have not let them out without us being home yet but I am hoping that when they get a little more adventurous, a little bigger and consistently come when I call, I can let them roam all day.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging 9 Years

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    What you can expect is that they will come back to the coop just before dark. They are living animals and you never know for sure what they will do, but I've never had a problems with them wanting to go back home to roost as long as they have been in there long enough to call it home. If you move them to a new coop near their old one, they might go back to the old coop, even after a couple of weeks, but that is not your situation.

    One problem I have had is that they trap themselves. I have a 12' x 32' run on a coop that is part of a 12' x 60' shed. Every time I let a new batch out, a few get on the side of the run where there is no gate. They are next to the run, desperately wanting to get to the safety and comfort of the coop, but can't figure out to walk around the run and go to the gate. I have to herd them around the run to the gate, then they rush right in. I even had one Buff Orp that looked over her shoulder at me as she was rushing through the gate as if to say "What took you so long?" Most of them understand it without my help, but I have had to assist some of them two nights before they figure out where he gate is. Birdbrains!
  6. BeccaB00

    BeccaB00 Songster

    Jun 16, 2010
    weellll..once our chicks get a sertain age..they RUN when they see us coming. No matter how tame they are. I still think yuo should let them out though . [​IMG]
  7. theFox

    theFox Songster

    Sep 21, 2009
    Standish, Maine
    They will come back to the coop at dusk, in fact a good number will get quite concerned if they can't get into the run or coop. So if they are out ranging make certain that you don't shut them out.
  8. turningchicken

    turningchicken Chirping

    Jun 8, 2010
    I love the advice I get from this forum!!![​IMG]
    This was the very topic I needed answers to as my chicks are 3 months old and they have never had free range. I felt like they needed it and I felt like they would return to there coop for roosting, but thanks to all of you I now know it for sure!! I will give them an hour out tomorrow evening to see how they do. Many thanks!![​IMG]
  9. pharmchickrnmom

    pharmchickrnmom Songster

    Apr 13, 2010
    We have just started letting our 15 week old pullets out to freerange for about an hour before they put themselves to bed in the tractor. My DH and I keep watch and if they stray too far all I have to do is call out "chickens" or mimic their group location call and they come running back to me. I make sure I have some sort of treat on hand so they know that when I call it means goodies. They are having a ball and it is funny watching them investigating all the areas they cant get to cause they are in their run most of the day. I will never let them freerange without supervision as there are too many hawks around.
  10. Ms~Silkie~Girl

    Ms~Silkie~Girl Songster

    Feb 7, 2009
    New York STATE
    They shouldn't run away, theyve been in there for so long they know its their home. at first they will probably stay close but once they are used to the area they will explore more, but I couldn't imagine one running away.

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