Need feedback on letting my chickens out of their run to roam...

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Wynette, Sep 28, 2007.

  1. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    I've got 6 pullets and a roo; their run is about 20' x 40' with plenty of grass growing in it (not sure, though, that next year there'll be as much since this the first year with chickens!). I know this is more than enough room for my little flock, but I'd love to let them out once in awhile when we're home to watch them (we work full time, so this would have to be on weekends only).

    However, I'm worried they'll roam too far. I'd like to be able to let them out to roam (I have a little over 10 acres) for a few hours, and then be able to "herd" them gently back into their run. I can't visualize my husband and me running around trying to get them back in! Also worried they'll enjoy being out so much they won't want to go back in.

    Can anyone give me pointers on how to go about this endeavor? My thought is to let them out and then shut the door on the run. Then, when I want them to go back in, open the door to the run and hope they decide to go back in, knowing their feed is in the run?

    Any pointers will be most appreciated! Thanks, folks!
     
  2. mdbucks

    mdbucks Cooped Up

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    I let mine out and only have 4 acres, I would start by letting them out later in the day. Start with maybe an hour before bedtime(thiers not yours) so they will not wonder too far, leave pen gate open so they will be able to go back on thier own(hopefully). Increase thier out time daily or as you see fit so they slowly venture out to find new things, I think a full day of wondering and they may need herding, but if yo start small they should learn on thier own how to return to the coop. [​IMG]
     
  3. PeiTheCelt

    PeiTheCelt Chillin' With My Peeps

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    we have just shy of 9 acres, and after panicking like crazy the first day I let my rescue roo out (he'd been with us for about 36 hours at that point after spending his entire life in a brood box essentially) he came to bed after not going further than about 200 ft. from the house (after I'd chased him to try to catch him and bring him home, yeah, rooster 1, me 0). Now he and his girlfriend spend all their days out of their coop/run area and just go inside at bedtime.
     
  4. Iamaqte

    Iamaqte Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I leave my chickens out free range and the majority of the time they stay close near the hen house..
    Actually when i first started letting them out.. they didn't come out for a couple days till they felt more comfortable then they go a little further.. and a little further...
     
  5. Wynette

    Wynette Moderator Staff Member

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    The idea of letting them out about an hour before their bedtime makes sense to me - think I'll try that this weekend and see what happens.

    I have a barn cat that I'm a little worried about, but I'm hoping he leaves them alone. He's 10, and not as active as he used to be. That, coupled with me feeding him in the barn, I think tends to make him a little lazy. He's seen them through their fence and walks right past them now. We'll definitely watch over them the whole time they're out. Thanks so much for your feedback!!
     
  6. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

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    Another way to get them in easy, instead of chasing them, is to have an evening routine where you deliver treats. Rattle bucket or give a 'treat time' call before you deliver treats for a couple of weeks before you let them out, and they will run to the bucket when you do the same routine after free-range time is over. They will run in for the treats and you can lock them up.

    Sometimes you have to round up a few strays, anyway. Just walk slowly and steadily toward them when they are between you and the coop. It doesn't take long for them to get the idea. Some of ours run around the tractor a few times before going in. Some try to ignore us, but usually when 2/3 of the flock are in the others feel insecure and come running.
     
  7. Chirpy

    Chirpy Balderdash

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    The first time I let mine free range I also let them out about an hour before their bedtime. I did that for the first week. I have added hours as the weeks have progressed. There are days that they've been out most of the day.

    We have 40 acres and mine have always stayed within a couple hundred feet of their house. They have also always put themselves back to bed at dusk. All we have to do is go out and shut/lock the doors.

    I taught mine to come when I called "Here chick, chick, chick!" They always get a treat when they come and, so far, they always come running like mad to get that treat. If I need them in the hen house or run I just stand in there and call and they are quickly around my feet.

    There have been a time or two when one of the girls was too lazy to come quickly when I called so we would just go get her, pick her up and walk her back. Thankfully all our chickens were handraised by my children and are used to being picked up and held ... every single day.
     
  8. Newchickenmom&kids

    Newchickenmom&kids Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well....I'm in the country but I only live on a half acre. Ours get out most every evening at about 5pm and they put themselves up at dark....then we go out and close them up! I tell people all the time it's the greatest pet to have because what other animal can you get that makes your breakfast and puts itself to bed each night!! [​IMG]
     
  9. valmom

    valmom Chillin' With My Peeps

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    We were letting ours out to free roam- they put themselves back in the coop in the evening as long as the gate was open. They had so much fun- we loved watching them run around and scratch in the woods and leaves. Loved watching them snap up bugs and cackle.

    Then the fox found out where dinner lived.[​IMG] We lost one hen (my favorite...) and haven't let them out of their 30x30 run since. And it was close to the house and my SO was home at the time. I'm pretty sure the hen yard is secure, and I feel so bad for my girl that I can't chance it.
     
  10. s6bee

    s6bee Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 1, 2007
    Western, NY
    I just started letting mine out an hour before their bedtime. I live in the 'burbs though so I have to be careful. I have a fenced in backyard, but there is some space if a bird wanted to squeeze through, they could. So I just stay out with them while I work in the garden, or the kids watch. I lure them back in with a treat. They love the time out. I wish I could let them free range, but I just can't....
     

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