Newbie owners. Hens ran away! How do we get them to come back?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by howiedoit, Apr 29, 2016.

  1. howiedoit

    howiedoit New Egg

    Apr 29, 2016
    We are complete newbies at this. About 5 days ago, my girlfriend received 4 hens from her friend who owns a farm.

    In anticipation of their arrival, we made a chicken coop with lots of tips from this website. However, the day we got the chickens, they hopped our fence and flew into our neighbors' trees! 2 of them have been hanging out in a tree on the street behind us. The other 2 have been in our next door neighbor's trees. 2 of them returned to our yard on the next day, but they haven't come back since.

    We've been checking on our chickens every day since. But because they do not recognize us and they are new to our neighborhood, these chickens just flee whenever anyone tries to approach them. Yesterday, I tried cornering 2 of them, but they flew at least 20 feet over my head and into the trees. And when they're in the trees, they're far too high to reach.

    We tried setting up some traps that are used to get cats and raccoons, but they haven't worked.

    We feel like terrible chicken owners and we are worried that our neighbors are starting to see the hens as a nuisance. We live in a big city, so nobody is used to seeing chickens walking around during the day. The chickens have also been digging up our neighbors' yards.

    Does anyone have any advice for us? How do we get them to come home so we can learn to be good chicken parents?
  2. MountainPea

    MountainPea Out Of The Brooder

    I'm a chicken noob too, but I wonder if they'd be able to be lured to your yard with food?
  3. mimsy

    mimsy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 9, 2012
    The easiest method would be if you could figure out where they are roosting at night and nab them then. chickens have very poor night vision and are pretty groggy, so you could probably just pick em up and bring in back to their coop. Most don't roost very high off the ground either, they will probably be at around the 6 foot level or so.

    I'm assuming your coop is secure and they hopped your fence? I'd keep them in their coop for at least 48 hours when you catch them so they know where home is. You will also need to clip their wings if you don't have a run and they are flying over the fences.
  4. howiedoit

    howiedoit New Egg

    Apr 29, 2016
    The lowest branches on these trees are probably over 15 feet high. I won't be able to reach them in the trees :(

    The coop is secure. We let them out to walk around and didn't realize they could fly so high! We now know that we should have left them in their coop for much longer and that we have to clip their wings. I wish we knew this when we got them.
  5. MountainPea

    MountainPea Out Of The Brooder

    I waited until mine had been in the coop for 10 days before letting them out. Good luck getting yours back, how frustrating it must be. Can you scatter yummy treats for them (while they're watching)? Are they within sight of your yard?
  6. bobbi-j

    bobbi-j Chicken Obsessed

    Mar 15, 2010
    On the MN prairie.
    Do you have a ladder or access to one? Fishing net? It sounds like nabbing them at night if you can would be your best bet. Before you lock them in the coop for days on end, how big is the coop?s(feet x feet - not "pretty big") If it's one of those cute little doll houses that people call a "coop", you might want to consider building an attached, covered run before locking them in. Crowding them into a coop after they've been "free ranging" could cause a whole host of other problems. You would want to build your run out of welded wire or hardware cloth. I'm guessing it wouldn't be a real big run, so hardware cloth wouldn't be terribly expensive. Have you contacted animal control to see if they can help you retrieve your birds?
    1 person likes this.
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Can you set a up a smaller run with a mesh roof on it?
    Put some feed and water and a roost in there....once they get used to eating there you can trap them and put them in the coop.
    Rigging a remote door closer on the run would enable you to close the door from father away.
    I had to do this with a large wire dog crate to catch a stray chicken.....took a lot of time, patience, and observation.
  8. JestofWilds

    JestofWilds Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 2, 2016
    When I've caught "wild" chickens before, I make a big pile of those dried meal worms, let them easy on them for a day or 2, & sneak as close as I can get after they get comfortable eating. Then I throw a blanket over them.

    Takes a few days but works for me.
  9. howiedoit

    howiedoit New Egg

    Apr 29, 2016
    Thank you everyone for your responses.

    I did set up my dog's crate in my yard to see if I can trap them inside. But they haven't come back to my yard.

    I built my coop with a chicken run. I don't have the measurements on me, but I did build it with enough space for 5 chickens.

    I did call my local humane society. They were useless. They just questioned me about local ordinances and then told me that they only help capture dogs. I thought about calling the fire dept since they supposedly help get cats out of trees, but I don't want to bother them.

    I guess it will just take more patience. I will try giving them better treats to see if I can get closer to them. I'll also check on them tonight so see if they're within reach. It's just that every time I've seen them in the trees, they're out of reach...even with the 10' ladder that I have.
  10. cscigu

    cscigu Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 14, 2014
    Keep feed and water in the yard near the coop. If they start feeding, move it into the coop....


    Obtain another hen, keep her cooped up, and put feed nearby to try to lure the runaways. Keep out just enough feed to entice them, but not fill them. At dusk, lure them into the coop with more food. Its tough since they don't know you. Once established, chickens will always run to you for food.

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