Soon-to-be new chicken Mama!

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by hazelchicken, Mar 12, 2017.

  1. hazelchicken

    hazelchicken New Egg

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    Hello everyone! My chicks are to arrive the last week of this month. I'm anxious and a little nervous! However, I have a question for you all. I work evening shift and come home late at night. I generally leave my house around 2pm. I'm just curious, how will that work for the chickens? My plan is to let them roam freely on our property (nearly 2 acres waaay out in the country), but I don't want to leave them out exposed to predators by not locking them up in their coop. Will chickens learn to go into their coop before I leave for work? Or will I have to leave them "cooped up" most of the week and let them out on the days I'm off and on the weekends? Our coop will have a chicken run. Any advice or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. peopleRanimals2

    peopleRanimals2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    As long as they recognize the coop as their 'home', they will go in when it gets dark. If your run is well secured, there shouldn't be much of a problem. The cold may be an issue, though. If it gets really cold where you live, at night they may not be able to warm themselves up properly with the door open.
    One way to fix this is to get an automatic door. I haven't had any personal experience with these, but they might be very helpful to you, and worth the cost. You could program it to close about a half hour after sunset or so, so that your chickens would have plenty of time to get inside. Another option is to have a willing friend or neighbor come to close the coop door a little after dark.
    What I would recommend doing is letting your chickens free range all day, and before you leave for work, you could secure them in the run. (maybe some treats to bribe them? [​IMG] You could teach them that a certain word means treats, so when you say it, they'll come running. Mine do that whenever I call out: "Here, chick-chick-chickens!" It's adorable.) Then, they would be safe the remainder of the afternoon, and would be able to go inside when it got dark.
    (Chicks shouldn't be outside without a supplemental heat source anyway, so until their feather are fully grown in, you will need to provide some sort of heat. There are plenty of articles on how to do this on this and many other sites.)
    Good luck, and feel free to ask any more questions. I'd love to hear how it works!
    -M
     
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  3. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I guess you can train them, but to try and get them to the coop at 2pm might not be easy. Keep in mind 2 acres unless its fenced in is only a small amount of free-range room. Chickens do not see property lines. My mother free ranges her 3 chickens---she likes 3 lots away from me---when she lets her chickens out---around 2pm they will be at my house in about a minute or two to try and get my pond ducks scattered corn. I have had over 1000 chickens at one time in 67 chicken pens and I just kept them penned. I grow/collect greens to feed them. For sure a dog can wipe you out in a few minute.
     
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  4. PD-Riverman

    PD-Riverman Overrun With Chickens

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    I have automatic doors and they work good----but free-ranging chickens on unfenced property if for sure a accident waiting to happen----unless they can be taught to come in by 2pm.
     
  5. peopleRanimals2

    peopleRanimals2 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yeah, I wouldn't recommend free ranging them unfenced- but depending on the amount of chickens, they could be called in with treats around 1 pm and they would be fenced in- with a time allotment for stragglers- by 2 pm :)
    hazelchicken, let us know how it works out once you figure out how it will work!
     
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  6. redsoxs

    redsoxs Chicken Obsessed

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    Greetings from Kansas, hazelchicken, and [​IMG]! Pleased you joined our flock! I have heard great things about the automatic doors but still do it the old fashioned way myself. I also think you are rolling the dice with predators by letting them free-range unsupervised. Free ranging is a risk vs. reward proposition and if you are not there for a good portion of the day, predators get to know your schedule and figure out when they can sneak in for a chicken dinner. I wish you well and hope everything works out! [​IMG]
     
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  7. Teila

    Teila Bambrook Bantams Premium Member

    G’Day from down under hazelchicken [​IMG] Welcome!

    As you have already received some great tips and advice, I will just wish you all the best.

    You might want to also pop in and say hello on your local thread: https://www.backyardchickens.com/f/26/where-am-i-where-are-you ‘Find your State’s thread.

    I hope you enjoy being a BYC member. There are lots of friendly and very helpful folks here so not only is it overflowing with useful information it is also a great place to make friends and have some fun.

    If you would like to share pictures and stories of your flock, you have come to the right place. BYC’ers never tire of these and do not back away slowly or commence eye rolling when the photo album or home videos come out [​IMG]
     
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  8. N F C

    N F C eggnog time! Premium Member Project Manager

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    [​IMG]

    Just for your peace of mind alone, I'd make sure the birds were in their run before you leave for work.

    Hope you enjoy them and thanks for joining us!
     
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  9. Lynnski

    Lynnski Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi Hazelchicken and welcome to BYC's! As you can see, everyone here is so nice and helpful! I am new at chicken keeping and have had some great advice from the good people here.

    Just to add my 2 cents, i only have 4 chickens, 8 months old, but similar to your situation I needed to consider an automatic door. I LOVE that door! Like peopleranimals2 suggested, I prefer to let them range while i can supervise and put them in their secure run before i leave. Here is what i have found... If they are free ranging at dusk, there is always (at least) one chicken who gets locked out of the coop. If, however, i put them in the run before dusk, they all make it in the coop before the door closes. Every time!

    One more advantage we have employed is a nanny cam in the coop. Wait, did I hear some of you roll your eyes?? hahaha! So did my husband when i mentioned the idea. Because we are sometimes away overnight, making sure the girls get in the coop at night was a challenge. Now, if there is a hold out who doesnt make it in, a neighbor will come over and scoot her in. So when we are away, we check the cam and do a headcount. I am not going to lie, when its 5 degrees outside, i will check the cam rather than walk out in the cold.

    Congratulations of starting your new flock, enjoy every moment and read everything you can in these forums! You will find what fits for you... keep us posted!
     
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  10. drumstick diva

    drumstick diva Still crazy after all these years. Premium Member

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    IF you have a very secure coop and doubly secure run with top- your birds can be happy & safe while you are away. I don't like the idea of auto doors because if some get locked out & you aren't home there is nothing they can do about it.

    Please check out the coops section and predator threads so you have a good idea of how to prevent massacres by the bad guys. Chickens do not need to free range to be happy. If they have never done it, they won't miss it.
     
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