My free range chickens won't range

allieszoo

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 7, 2013
112
6
81
Stanton, KY
Once the chicks got to be a couple weeks old we would have them out in the yard (supervised) everyday and let them roam around, they didn't roam far and usually stayed in one area.

Now they are about 6 weeks old and have moved to the coop. They have a run but the run is only for when no one is home - since we work from home there just about always someone here and we have not had to use it yet.

Everyday I let the pullets out and everyday they go to one spot in the yard and stay pretty much in that area really only leaving to go to their food and water in the run and then run back to that spot. They will sometimes explore a little but only for a few seconds then - same thing - run back to that spot.

I have tried to entice them to other parts of the yard by placing a tray of treats (like applesauce or fruit or veggies) in another area, but it is the same as the food...eat and run.

We live on about a 1/2 acre so there is plenty of room. It is also very quiet where we live - very few cars, no planes or loud noises - so am not sure why they stay in the same area all the time.

Is this normal while they get their bearings? Should I be attempting to make them go to another spot? They aren't lethargic - they play and peck and dig and scratch and dust bathe in the spot they like.

Funny thing is, I was worried about them running off and having to chase them back in the yard : /
 

centrarchid

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Sep 19, 2009
26,373
17,726
856
Holts Summit, Missouri
Young birds are all about food and cover. They eat then retreat to cover. Six-week old birds are extremely vulnerable to predators and they know it. You can get them to range by providing less easy to get eats or mix them with older birds. Juvenile only groups range the least. If a harem master (adult rooster) is involved then they will range like adults because rooster can provide protection from predator juveniles fear most (hawks).

I do not like to free-range juveniles like you have unless dog on duty as well. Otherwise you are going to get hit hard by a predator and will have thread relating something I think is preventable.
 

allieszoo

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 7, 2013
112
6
81
Stanton, KY
The reason we are letting them free range is because we have an outside workshop that either myself or my husband are in all day - so the birds have some sort of supervision - if both of us are not home, then they go in their run. We also do have a large breed dog that barks like mad if anything enters our yard, he is unable to get to the chickens as I do not trust him yet with them, but he does monitor our yard.

I figured it was because they were still young - the area they prefer right now has a couple bushes and they like to dust bathe behind them. As long as it's normal will just let them do their thing right now and not worry about it.
 
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donrae

Hopelessly Addicted
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Jun 18, 2010
31,453
4,057
581
Southern Oregon
I agree, your birds are showing very good survival instincts! They know they're on the bottom of the food chain, and have no comprehension of you watching out for them. They'll get bolder as they age. They're still babies and showing pretty good sense for chicks.
 

allieszoo

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 7, 2013
112
6
81
Stanton, KY
Yea, I noticed that whenever a large bird flys by or close (no hawks though) they will all run and duck behind the bushes no matter WHAT they were doing at the time.

So it all makes sense now, also the area butts up to the shop, so they kinda hang out in between the wall and the bushes and walk around there and stay by the wall. It also explains why they end up in the shop with me and my husband so much especially since they still have the "stay under cover instinct."

I guess I just expected them to be like "Grass!, Flowers!, Bugs! Huge Area! Run!" but now I realize my original thought of "maybe they are still too little to want that" and what was said above now makes the whole thing a lot clearer.
 

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