My hens won't leave their pen.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Timberlane, May 11, 2011.

  1. Timberlane

    Timberlane Out Of The Brooder

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    May 11, 2011
    Maine
    I have three older, non-laying hens that I got for the specific purpose of free ranging and eating ticks. I have had them for a week and a half and have started leaving their gate open, so they can be free, but they are very content with their home...Today I went out when it was still dark and put them outside and closed the gate. Now they have no choice, but I went and checked on them before I left for work and they were hiding in the small space behind the pen. Any suggestions?
     
  2. annep

    annep Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 4, 2011
    Give them time..Leave it open, and eventually, they will..We got some RIR's that took about a month to figure it out. They did..with me enticing them with scratch!
     
  3. NottinghamChicks

    NottinghamChicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    Don't force it and certainly don't put them outside there secure pen in the dark! They need a while to take in all the sights and sounds so the know what is normal and what is potentially harmful. Older hens are more content with safety especially if they did not get to free range at their last home, but eventually they wil feel the need to explore. very nice of you to take them in [​IMG]
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    It is good that they like their new home. They should go in there to roost at night with no problems. So you are in good shape in that respect.

    Chickens are not trusting creatures. They have the instincts of prey animals, not predators. They usually do not like anything new. If they are not used to it, that open space out there is big, frightening, and intimidating. But given time, one will work its courage up and explore. The others will soon join the first. I agree. Just leave the gate open and let them decide when to go out. There is nothing wrong with scasttering a few treat just outide the gate to help them get brave, but there is no real reason to rush it.

    One thing I've learned is that chickens do not handle the concept of "gate" very well. They quickly learn to use the gate, but they do not have the ability to reason out that "There is a gate over there. If I go to the gate, I can get to the other side of the fence."

    Usually the first one or two days I let a group of chicks out to free range, some get on the wrong side of the run away from the gate and cannot figure out how to get back in. They are up against the fence, desperately wanting to go to the coop and safety for the night, but they just can't get through. This is usually two or three out of maybe 15 to 20 chicks. I herd them around the run to the gate and they go in. Most usually catch on the first time I do that, but last year I had Buff Orp pullet that had to be helped two nights in a row. The second night I herded her in, as she went through the gate she looked back over her shoulder at me as if to say "What took you so long?"
     
  5. MareeZoCool

    MareeZoCool Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have an Astralorp hen I bought when she was 7 months old. She was not used to free-ranging. It took her one week to ajust to being outside in the wide open. She is the last one out, the last one in at night! We usually need to wait for her to secure the coop every night.[​IMG]
     

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