1. If this is your first time on BYC, we suggest you start with one of these three options:
    Raising Chickens Chicken Coops Join BYC
    If you're already a member of our community, click here to login & click here to learn what's new!

Nervous about free ranging.

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by HEN-tabulous, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. HEN-tabulous

    HEN-tabulous Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    24
    Aug 9, 2014
    North Carolina
    Hello all! We just started our little flock (6 hens: 1 adult Rhodebar, 3 RIR pullets, 1 giant Cochin pulley and 1 Barredrock pullet). The whole process has been awesome. They've been with us for a little under a week and I'm not sure when to introduce the rest of our yard. They have a big run that's next to our pond and about an acre of woods/grassland on the other side. I'm nervous about them finding their way back into the coop at night. I love 'em, but they don't seem too bright! Thanks in advance for your advice!
     
  2. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    8,174
    2,134
    421
    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    You can start out slowly be letting them out an hour or two before sundown. They won't go far and will put themselves back in when it's time for them to go to roost. You can extend their time every day if you want. They should be just fine.
     
  3. Ol Grey Mare

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

    16,485
    4,504
    481
    Mar 9, 2014
    Oregon
    My Coop
    Chickens are a lot smarter than most people give them credit for - but, that said, you don't *have* to let them free range at all if you are not completely comfortable with doing so. Have you worked with teaching them to come to you when called? If you do want to range them that is one thing you can do to help you feel better about it as you will be able to call them back and put them up when you want (this is helpful for those times that might come up when you want to put them away before their normal time to bring themselves in) and help them to get into the routine the first few times you do let them out.
     
  4. HEN-tabulous

    HEN-tabulous Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    24
    Aug 9, 2014
    North Carolina
    Thanks for all the advice! Not coming to me yet. The girls are just now eating mealworms out of my hand. Still skittish around me however. It's a daily adventure, but I'm enjoying it.
     
  5. LindaB220

    LindaB220 Overrun With Chickens

    6,179
    696
    308
    Aug 23, 2013
    Portland/Vancouver area
    [​IMG] There's too many dogs and cats around my rural setting. I haven't had the courage yet. They got out one afternoon and ran from me. It took over an hour to corral them with a net again. Maybe I'll try the almost bedtime version.
     
  6. ShockValue

    ShockValue Chillin' With My Peeps

    730
    104
    178
    Jan 10, 2010
    West Sound, Washington
    I too was nervous.. Until one of my 10 week old pullets escaped the make-shift run I had set up (free ranging was always in the plan, the run was just so they would get used to "home"). All she wanted to do was get back in with the other girls and go in the coop.

    So that afternoon I removed the run-cage, fully expecting to have to chase chickens all over the neighborhood.. But to my relief, they were very nervous to venture more than a few feet from the coop.

    I think the real trick is making sure they know where "home" is. We locked them in the coop (no outside access) for almost a week. Then only let them into my makeshift-run attached to the pop-door for another week.

    Fast forward to today (23 weeks) and they roam the whole neighborhood, but are always home and roosting before sundown.
     
  7. petrel

    petrel Chats with Chickens

    All good advice above. I'll add that it may or may not help to add a treat bowl. I'll explain: All six of us tend the chickens. The children and I carry the chicken treats to the run in more or less the same "treat bowl" whenever we have them. The chickens associate the bowl with treats...

    I mentioned that a treat bowl may or may not help because: Although a backyard flock was my wife's idea, in her unique skillful way, she has managed to spend the least amount of time with them! However, she is the only one of us who can walk into the yard and say "chick, chick, chick" and they all come running. She is the Chicken Momma. She seldom feeds them, and almost never cleans up after them. I figure it is flock mentality. The chickens see us obeying her and figure they better do the same.

    The rest of us have to get the "treat bowl" and rap on it to get the flock to come!

    Empty handed Chicken Momma addressing some of her loyal followers, as my daughter watches the rest of the flock scurrying to assemble at her command!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. HEN-tabulous

    HEN-tabulous Out Of The Brooder

    17
    0
    24
    Aug 9, 2014
    North Carolina
    All great advice. What I'm figuring out is that each flock takes on its' own dynamic. I greatly appreciate y'all's input!
     
  9. threescompany

    threescompany Chillin' With My Peeps

    549
    269
    168
    Aug 3, 2014
    So glad you asked this! I am new to chicken keeping with 1 Australorp, 1 RIR and 1 EE. They are so cute at 10 weeks and I am nervous about letting them out as well but would like to in the evening or on weekends when I can be around to watch them.
     
  10. threescompany

    threescompany Chillin' With My Peeps

    549
    269
    168
    Aug 3, 2014
    Well after almost a month, I finally let my girls have a little outside the run time. It was magical, did I really say that? They tentatively came out the door and then were calm and just started hunting and pecking. I sat nearby with my water hose and hoe ready to do battle with any and all intruders but there were none. I let them stay out a few minutes, gave them a few meal worms and then lured them back into the run with a grape. Little EE was a little frazzled when the RIR and Australorp got in the run first but all in all it went well and I am going to start letting them have a little more supervised free range time![​IMG]
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by