Should I free range?

Booby

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
6
0
7
Hi there chicken lovers. Don't know if in the right part of forum.

I have had my 6 lovely chickens for one week now and have had several eggs. They was all bought as POL chickens, so they are young. My question is I have had these gals for only a little while can I let them out in the big garden to roam around eating bugs?? because I don't know if they will ever go back to the coop + run. Oh and one side note - my chickens will not eat cracked corn whole corn or any kind of corn :D they don't touch it.
 

SA Farm

Crowing
8 Years
Mar 11, 2013
3,688
611
436
Ontario, Canada
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Usually it only takes a few days for chickens to establish their roosting area. They should all go back in at dusk. Strange on the corn thing...kind of a staple for chickens...
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
78
283
Wisconsin
You could start out by letting them out a couple of hours before they normally go to roost. That way they won't get too far away from the coop. Usually, though, they start out staying right by the coop and ranging more as they get used to an area.

If they don't seem to be going back in, offer some snacks in the run and coop, as a bribe. You could even do that for a day or two before you let them free range. They'll get used to the food container and the routine. It helps train them to come to you for snacks.
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Most chickens like corn or scratch with corn in it. They may never have had it, though. To a chicken, any new food might be poison. If you aren't lucky enough to have at least one brave one in the group, sometimes it takes a while. The more foods they learn to eat, the more mine are willing to try new foods.

My secret weapons in dire times are hulled sunflower seeds and dried or fresh mealworms. Even if they've only been loose for 5 minutes, they'll go back in the run for those.
 

Booby

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
6
0
7
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Usually it only takes a few days for chickens to establish their roosting area. They should all go back in at dusk. Strange on the corn thing...kind of a staple for chickens...
Yes I am baffled to why they don't take corn. I have given them whole corn kernels, cracked corn & and I even put it through the food processor to break it down further. They do not touch it ;( and yet everyone in every forums says that corn to chicken is like candy to us.
 

Booby

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
6
0
7
So treats is the best way to lure them back in hmmm. one other thing all my chickens except one are scared of me :(
 

debid

Free Ranging
10 Years
Jan 20, 2011
7,557
6,886
516
middle TN
You have eyes on the front of your head = you are a predator. You have to teach the chickens that you're a non-threatening predator. Bring them small bits of something they like, kneel down, and be still with the food in your hand extended to them. Repeat many times and the chickens will learn that your approach = yummy something. They might not want to be held but they'll get over the fear of your approach and instead greet you with anticipation.

Next, let them out a little while before they'd normally go to roost. They should return to the coop to sleep. After you're all comfy with that, start delivering treats to the run with a signal that it's coming. I started with a cup and a little scratch -- rattling it so there were visible and auditory clues. I then realized the benefit of a louder signal and introduced a bell with treat delivery. I can now ring the bell and the chickens will run from wherever they are to go in the run for a treat. No matter what time of day. So easy! But not quick -- they need lots of repetition for it to sink in.
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
78
283
Wisconsin
To get them used to you, just hang around with them for a little while each day, in a non-threatening way. Don't do a lot of staring at them. A hard stare is threatening. If they look nervous, turn your head away. Move slowly around them and speak softly, in a gentle way. Let them observe you while you sit out there next to the coop, reading or just sipping a beverage and looking into the distance. Maybe doing something on an iphone. Whatever it is that you like to quietly do. When you're focused on something other than them, it gives them a chance to look you over without risk.

Once they're settled in, I don't try to handle frightened birds or force myself on them. I just give them a bit of time and let them come to me, when they feel safe. Until then, I bring delicious, cool, fresh water and lots of wonderful food. Hey, I must be okay!
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Birds learn to be less anxious about new people and new objects by observing them repeatedly. Eventually, they decide it maybe isn't a threat. With objects, they'll peck at it, to check it out. With new foods, the bravest one eventually tries to eat it. The cautious approach is what keeps them alive in this world.

It also helps if you talk gently to them as you come up to the coop. It can also frighten them if a coop door suddenly opens or a figure suddenly appears at the run. It's startling. I do that as a courtesy even for tame birds. I think it really helps with anxious birds.
 

Booby

Hatching
6 Years
Apr 29, 2013
6
0
7
Thanks for all the info guys. But I have another question: how high can they jump?? like I mean can they jump a garden fence?
 

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