New to the chicken thing!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by lorindaeb, Sep 15, 2012.

  1. lorindaeb

    lorindaeb Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 15, 2012
    Lynden, Wa
    I'm really new to raising chickens. My four ladies are about 3 months old and have been living outside in their coop for about a month and a half now. I have a fenced back yard, but I'm leary about letting them run around outside of their own fenced in coop. Would it be better to fence in a small area for them to graze in or just let them run around the back yard? Would they go back to their coop in the evening? Has anyone experienced chickens getting into the trees and "flying the coop" over the fence or finding areas where a fence may have a small opening and crawl under?
     
  2. TallChickMagnet

    TallChickMagnet Chillin' With My Peeps

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    When I first got my birds I had a few times where I chased them through the neighborhood, but now they know where their home is and stay preaty close to it.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. TXchickmum

    TXchickmum Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Letting them roam the back lawn is up to you. Have you any diurnal predators such as hawks? This could potentially be of concern unless you have a good amount of cover for them. They may initially attempt to explore outside the yard or fly into trees, but after a while this should subside. We have 2 OEGB that flew to the top of our covered porch. -decided to clip wings after this. -only had to clip them a few times and they never attempted to fly up/over anything again. They always hop onto lawn furniture or statuaries to roost, but not rooftops - thankfully.... The chickens should always take themselves back to their coop to roost in the evening. It's something they just do on their own. If they range around all day, they'll find their way to the coop at dusk. -and [​IMG]!
     
  4. lorindaeb

    lorindaeb Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 15, 2012
    Lynden, Wa
    Thanks for the advice! I may try to let them out this weekend. I know we have hawks and eagles, but my backyard is so covered by trees, that I don't see it as a problem. The only animals that I see back there, besides the chickens, is squirls. Thanks again!!
     
  5. Puddin Fluff

    Puddin Fluff Overrun With Chickens

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    Ditto the above comments. We live in the country side and when the chickens free ranged without supervision, we have lost a couple to preditors but we are talking about 13 acres of space and they didn't go to every corner but far enough. Now we mostly let them out when we are outside with them. We try to do it at least an hour a day, on weekends they are out most of the day. We also have trained them to come when called. This was done with treat association. Anytime they hear us call they know some kind of treat is coming there way so they run/fly/hop into the coop without complaint. This comes in handy when we have to leave and don't want them out alone.

    Also when they were younger, they seemed to find their way through the fence to our house. I think they were just looking for us. Now that they are over a year they hardly ever stray or try to get out of the pasture.

    We put lawn chairs out and have coffee in the mornings while they forrage.
     
  6. cknkids

    cknkids Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 27, 2012
    Camarillo, CA
    I'd say let them roam... we're also new to chickens, a few weeks ahead of you. Our daughter brought home the 2nd grade life science project. Didn't know better so let them start roaming at about 3 or 4 weeks, yes weeks, while supervised, not really sure when I got comfortable about leaving then alone and out. They started in a dog crate in the house and a hoop tractor (no shade) in the yard. they then moved to a small little tykes play house that we closed up with hardware cloth and raise off the ground, but no attached run, so we let them out every morning and shut the door at night and don't go anywhere. I think it's so funny how at early dusk they do a pass through the yard looking for bugs and then jump into the house and onto their roost, we do nothing but watch, enjoy and shut the door.

    We've had a few days that I worried about them when they were little and a red tail hawk was circling the neighborhood (not the house) and when I've seen a pair of golden eagles over head, I don't' believe either has figured out we have chickens and the chickens spend most their time under a large juniper bush. I love seeing them when they wonder the yard, pecking at bugs and dust bathing in the bark under the rose bushes. I had no idea I so enjoy watching them and can defiantly see how chicken math strikes but we're only zoned for 5. My DH wasn't so thrilled when they got into the garden and got the first tomatoes, he put up a fence to keep them out. Their permanent home with an attached run should be finished this weekend, OK I've been saying that for weeks but I think its really going to happen. We plan on still letting them out everyday but it'll be nice to know we can go away and they'll be safe.

    Early on we did have one slip through a missing piece of fence but the kids chased her down and it hasn't kept happening. Do you have bushes for them to hide under? When they were really little the hid in our jasmine bush now it's not big enough and they prefer the juniper. I have to omit that I want to start keeping them in their run for the morning so we don't have to hunt for eggs. We'll see how it works when they start laying.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. lorindaeb

    lorindaeb Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 15, 2012
    Lynden, Wa
    I have quite a bit random things for the chickens to hide under if they want....blueberry bushes, grape vines, rose bushes, etc..

    I think tomorrow I'll make a sweep of the fence and make sure that if there are any areas that they could squeeze through are covered and let them out for an hour or so. I like the idea of using a treat of some sort to get them used to being "called" back to their coop. I just need to figure out what they like. I have been feeding them layer feed, but also random veggies, fruit and seeds. They seem to enjoy pretty much anything I give them, so I need to figure out something special for them.

    It has been a lot of fun with the chickens and I would love for them to be able to roam around more. Thanks again, everyone, for the advice!
     
  8. cknkids

    cknkids Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you have good cover, smart to check the fence. For treats we started with raisins, ours love them as well as scratch or sunflower seeds(un salted). I've even use a handful of their feed. I'm also new to this, but thought we weren't suppose to feed layer until they start to lay, the extra calcium can be harmful?
     
  9. lorindaeb

    lorindaeb Out Of The Brooder

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    Sep 15, 2012
    Lynden, Wa
    I fed them starter feed for a full 25# bag, then the guy who owns the farm store said it was fine to go to layer feed....he has a bunch of chickens at the store itself that he raises, so I would assume he knows what he is doing. I guess I didn't really think about the extra calcium in the layer feed. They get a lot of scraps as well, so maybe it is balancing out ok...I sure hope so. They seem to be growing well, and look healthy. Guess I will find out later....
     
  10. coolcanoechic

    coolcanoechic Chillin' With My Peeps

    Try some corn bread for a special treat. My chickens will do anything for a piece of corn bread.
     

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