Need advice/suggestions before letting my birds free range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HeatherTheMommy, Nov 2, 2015.

  1. HeatherTheMommy

    HeatherTheMommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is my first flock. I have 12 hens. 2 buff orpingtons, 2 light brahmas, 1 buff brahma, 1 silver laced wyandotte, 1 dominique, 1 white silkie, 1 white easter egger, 1 welsummer, 1 black australorp and 1 production red. They have a large coop that was once a wooden shed and a decent sized run. I notice they get bored tho and pick at each other. The run is all dirt/mud now. I want to add sand but funds are tight. We live on a big farm of 100 plus acres but our house is set on a nice 2 acre lot towards the front of the farm. My yard is big but not much cover in the actual yard. The back is lined with wooded area that separates us from the neighbor. I want to let my girls out for a few hours during the day. Not all day but just every now and then to forage. How can i add coverage for them to hide? Also how do i get them back in the coop if i have to go somewhere? I cant let them out all day because i have 2 small children that i have to tend to so i can't be outside with the hens. I am going to post aome pictures of my yard for advice. So please share with me any experiences or advice as to letting my girls out.
     
  2. HeatherTheMommy

    HeatherTheMommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This is the back yard. I figure they wont venture to the front very often
     
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  3. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Cooping them is easily accomplished worth a little training. Condition them to associate a call (verbal or a noise like tapping a bucket) with you giving them a treat. Chickens are VERY food motivated. Once they associate your call with food to can stand near the coop and call. ....when they rush in, give the treat and shut the door. Our flock can scatter a good bit while out, but I can have all of them back in the run in less than 5 minutes just by calling or shaking my rattle can....birds come from every direction at top chicken speed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  4. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

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    For cover....anything they can scurry under will work, you can go simple with pallets up on blocks. Don't be surprised if they wander father than you anticipate, especially once they get more comfortable being out.
     
  5. redfish514

    redfish514 Out Of The Brooder

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    Heather, nice looking yard. tons of room to roam. My girls have access to 40 acres and a workshop over hang for cover, Personally I would plant some trees when funds allow for cover.

    As far as letting them out and getting them back in (Against their will), I had the same concern. I trained mine to return to the coop with a whistle. The whistle is ONLY dedicated to that and when they go to the coop they are treated to meal worms. That is also the only time they get meal worms. They learned this fairly quickly.
     
  6. HeatherTheMommy

    HeatherTheMommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Anything besides trees i can use? We have barns but they are all the way to the back of the farm and they would need to travel through crops orthe gravel drive way to get there. Its pretty far so i doubt they will go there
     
  7. redfish514

    redfish514 Out Of The Brooder

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    Yeah, they will pretty much use anything for cover. If I'm looking at your last picture close enough, is that the coop behind the shed? If that's the case, they will probably hang out in the woods close by. Mine do that and only come out occasionally to see what I'm doing, or if I call them home, and then its a stampede. lol
     
  8. HeatherTheMommy

    HeatherTheMommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes the run and coop are behind the bigger shed. The smaller shed is their coop.
     
  9. HeatherTheMommy

    HeatherTheMommy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Do I Have to do some training with the treats or can i let them out today and shake treats for them to come
     
  10. redfish514

    redfish514 Out Of The Brooder

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    It will be difficult to wrangle twelve chickens home in the middle of the day if they've never heard you call them back with treats.
    Mine took a little consistent training, but they got it quickly. I made sure to only blow the whistle while I was in the coop and they would come to me. Now I can pretty much blow the whistle anywhere and they go directly to the coop first to look for meal worms then towards me if that don't see any. The whistle I bought I believe came from the dollar tree.
     

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