New chickens


In the Brooder
8 Years
Apr 30, 2011
I just bought my first pair of barred rock chickens. This is a first for me. The lady I bought them from said that I should keep them in the run and coop for the first week. They came from a much bigger coop and run into my small coop and run. Also, they were used to being let out to graze ever afternoon. I feel bad having to keep them locked up for a week. Do you really have to keep them confined for an entire week? Are they going to try to run off or fly off the minute I let them out of the coop? How long should I leave them out in the pasture for the first time?
I'm no expert at free ranging, but since no one has answered yet I'll chime in until then.

The first thing you want to do is to "imprint" them that the coop is home. Some suggest locking them in for a couple of days, I usually go out the first couple of evenings and make sure they go back in, showing them the ramp, etc. If your coop is right, and to their liking, they will call it home quick.

Second thing, is letting them explore the run and get used to you. Let them find hiding spots, their limitations, and so on. If the run has decent size for a couple of birds, then give them a week or so until the get the feel for it. If the hen is laying already, let her start laying again and get her rhythm back to normal. Sometimes the stress of moving can interrupt their egg cycle.

Third, after they seem comfortable with where they are, and with you, begin letting them out for an hour or 2 in the evening. Before it gets dark, they will head home on there own. Be ready to assist them getting back into the run. This is when chickens show their lack of intelligence. They might pace back an forth along the fence trying to figure out how to get in, you might have to encourage them to go toward the door.

Follow along at first to reassure them, and it won't take long before they feel comfortable. Use the time in the run to let them get to know you. If they like the coop, and you, it will go smoothly.

Good luck...

Im no expert either I just got in to chickens this spring but I started out with 12 birds and desided that wasnt going to produce enough eggs. So I purchased 6- 19 week old barred rocks to add to my flock. In desperation I placed them in the run right away. Yes I know I should have quaratined. But I got lucky nobody got sick and no fights. After two days I let the entire bunch return to free ranging for a few hours a day. The new ones followed the original flock when I entised them back to the hen house with a little grain as I do every evening. They learn quick from the others around them. Hope that helps.

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