My free range birds won't free range


9 Years
Jun 25, 2013
They're 18-20 weeks, not laying yet and are healthy. I've had them since they were 7 weeks old. I started letting them out at 8 weeks so it's not like this is their first week.
I leave the run open all day. They go out for about 10-30 minutes in the morning. During the day, they're all laying in the run underneath the coop even in this nice cool weather we're having. In the evening they'll go back out for about an hour. What the heck?

They've got plenty of cover. I hear about people who's chickens will be out all day. What's the deal with mine?
We've had a lot of hawks flying around lately (migrating time) and my chickens are spending more time hiding in the shrubbery etc, could yours be doing the same thing hiding under the coop? Even if the run is covered the chickens are still scared of the hawks.
Where is their food and do you free feed? You could remove the food part of the time so they are a little hungry, or put it somewhere else farther away from the coop to make them move around to get it if they are just being lazy. Some breeds just forage better than others and some need a little more encouragement.
Ours tend to do the same......I'lll let them out, and they'll roam for a little while, but always end up back in/around the coop after they've caught enough bugs, and eaten their weight in grass.

Maybe move their food out of the coop?

They may simply have such a nice home, they just want to stay there!
They may not have to spend much time out looking for food if the pasture is good. There is also the matter of the breed, some breeds just do not forage anymore. Mine also don't spend all day out looking for food, but confine their times out mostly to the morning and evenings.
Thank you for the replies!

I have lots of green grass. I was really hoping they'd be willing to spend more time in the garden getting rid of pests. I guess they're more efficient than I realized.

The breeds are dominique, buff brahma, SLW and GLW.
When I open my door mine come running out @ full speed squawking & flapping like a herd of stampeding buffalo. Somebody pointed out in another thread to make them forage better don't feed them free-choice or in the morning.

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