My ladies are wandering....why?

Auntiejessi3

Crowing
Oct 20, 2020
1,400
3,415
456
Central Texas
My Coop
My Coop
My 3 ladies just turned 18 weeks today. I have had them since they were 4 weeks and they have been outside in their coop from the day I got them. I started letting them out to free range at 6 weeks old on our acre of property with no problems. Now for the past week, for reasons unknown, when I let them out they haul ass straight for the woods at the very end of my property, they never used to go back there. I live in the sticks of Texas and there are plenty of predators, so I can't just leave them be till dusk when they feel like coming back to the coop. Can I correct this behavior and if so how? They have been perfect little ladies until they got this wild feather up their A#$, lol.
 

mcdze

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
327
453
128
you have to work 'with' them, one thing i learned about free ranging is dont give them an unlimited supply of food, and you can set what time you feed them at your leisure to get them up.. they can tell time within a 5 minute accuracy therabouts, but chickens seeking cover is pretty natural, grow some around the coop if its open .. if theyre not wanting to go around the coop that may be a seperate issue entirely, and you need to identify why ..
 

Auntiejessi3

Crowing
Oct 20, 2020
1,400
3,415
456
Central Texas
My Coop
My Coop
you have to work 'with' them, one thing i learned about free ranging is dont give them an unlimited supply of food, and you can set what time you feed them at your leisure to get them up.. they can tell time within a 5 minute accuracy therabouts, but chickens seeking cover is pretty natural, grow some around the coop if its open .. if theyre not wanting to go around the coop that may be a seperate issue entirely, and you need to identify why ..
Their coop is under a tree, and there are bushes, the garden area and tons of oak trees. I feed them in the morning then let them do their thing during the day. In the evenings they would be at the coop waiting for their evening feeding. I just don't get what has changed
 

Whigru

Chirping
May 7, 2020
202
231
73
Minnesota
I had this happen this summer, too. As soon as they were let out, up to the woods they went. I somehow broke that habit (for now) and they don’t wander up there anymore. I think it was the continuous watching and chasing them down, which was a total pain. They do seem trainable, I’ve gotten them to follow me to the fenced in area where I let them roam, so it IS possible, but to what degree, not sure. I do sometimes scatter scratch grains or snacks in the area of the yard i want them to stay in. I don’t do it everyday but occasionally and maybe that helps them recognize where it’s best to stay? I don’t know. I do know it’s a pain to keep an eye on them especially when they start to dig for bugs and just wander aimlessly so I’ve started putting them in my fenced in garden area.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
10,532
26,914
1,066
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
Try to think like a chicken.

Do the woods look more sheltered from wind, hawks, or other things that make chickens unhappy than the area around the coop does?

Do the woods look like they have more bugs and/or tasty greenery than the area around the coop does?

Is there more to do in the woods? More leaf litter to scratch in? More branches to perch on?

Chickens are, by nature, creatures of the forest floor. Ultimately, you will probably have to either fence them into the area where you want them to be or fence them out of the area where you don't want them to be. :)
 

Auntiejessi3

Crowing
Oct 20, 2020
1,400
3,415
456
Central Texas
My Coop
My Coop
I had this happen this summer, too. As soon as they were let out, up to the woods they went. I somehow broke that habit (for now) and they don’t wander up there anymore. I think it was the continuous watching and chasing them down, which was a total pain. They do seem trainable, I’ve gotten them to follow me to the fenced in area where I let them roam, so it IS possible, but to what degree, not sure. I do sometimes scatter scratch grains or snacks in the area of the yard i want them to stay in. I don’t do it everyday but occasionally and maybe that helps them recognize where it’s best to stay? I don’t know. I do know it’s a pain to keep an eye on them especially when they start to dig for bugs and just wander aimlessly so I’ve started putting them in my fenced in garden area.
I'll work on this, and if I have to build a big run around their coop to make sure they're safe so be it, but I like them to have their freedom. Bottom line is I want my ladies safe and happy😁
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,136
16,944
706
USA
Since it's a recent change, maybe you could spend some time watching what they do in that area. Maybe a particular kind of berry just got ripe, some kind of nuts fell to the ground, a new kind of bug or caterpillar started to hatch, or something of the sort.

My area has mulberries and cicadas at certain times in the summer, and the chickens definitely change their foraging pattern when each of those becomes available.
 

aart

Chicken Juggler!
Premium Feather Member
9 Years
Nov 27, 2012
100,597
143,497
1,867
SW Michigan
My Coop
My Coop
if I have to build a big run around their coop to make sure they're safe so be it, but I like them to have their freedom. Bottom line is I want my ladies safe and happy
Always good to have a secure run...for predator events and if you need to confine them for coop nest training.
Wondering if they have started laying and found a 'better' place to be.
 

Auntiejessi3

Crowing
Oct 20, 2020
1,400
3,415
456
Central Texas
My Coop
My Coop
Always good to have a secure run...for predator events and if you need to confine them for coop nest training.
Wondering if they have started laying and found a 'better' place to be.
I've been back off in the woods where they go to get them out and haven't seen any eggs, and for the past week they stay in their coop and run while I'm at work since they aren't behaving, lol. They have a small run attached to their coop, but to me that's like putting a dog in a kennel and never letting it out to run. I'll see if I can't retrain them, if not I'll build a big ass run so they have some space when I'm not home to supervise
 

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom