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Teaching my hens to return to the coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by posterchild, Jun 5, 2011.

  1. posterchild

    posterchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 5, 2011
    Hi All,

    I have a newbie question. I have 4 very fast 6 week old chicks that I eventually want to allow to roam the yard for a few hours a day. They have a secure run with a coop inside it (which the are only using for a few hours a day at the moment, then into a large brooder at night).

    My question is, when they are old enough to live outside, what is the best way to train them to return "home" to the coop after ranging? We are on quite a large block and I don't want to have to chase them around too much. [​IMG] Is it fairly simple to condition them to come at the sound of a rattling feed bucket?

    Thanks in advance.

    Stace
     
  2. ariel4birds

    ariel4birds Out Of The Brooder

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    May 31, 2011
    Olympia
    In my experience, food is definitely the best trick. Always feed chickens where you want them to be at night. I don't leave food sitting out for my birds. I feed them a little in the morning, but just enough for them to finish in a few minutes. Then I withhold food until dinner time, when I give them their bigger meal where I want them to stay at night. I always make sure they get enough to eat, but you want them to be hungry enough to come back before dark. I hope this helps.
    '
     
  3. posterchild

    posterchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 5, 2011
    Thanks, that does help. I've been reading as much as I can about feeding and was confused about it. I read that they should always have food infront of them to prevent cannabalism, but then I thought, how do you get them to come home when they are stuffed full of food [​IMG]

    I just went out and rattled a bucket of food at them, they spread to the four corners of the coop at first (I think I rattled too enthusiastically!). They stayed away from the food after I put it on the ground. Eventually one of them walked up to it and when she realised it was food she made the loudest racket. I couldn't stop laughing. The others dived on it so fast. [​IMG] I love watching the way they behave, I guess that's part of the intrigue of owning chooks.
     
  4. mommto3kiddos

    mommto3kiddos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
    I agree with the above poster - food is the key!!

    My girls go free willingly now, but when I let the out to range the feed stays in the coop.. Shaking the can is all it took to have them come running in the evening.. Now about 3 weeks later sometimes I will go out late and look around and not see anyone, peek in and they free willingly went back into the coop and roosted..
     
  5. posterchild

    posterchild Out Of The Brooder

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    Jun 5, 2011
    Thanks. I love your profile pic, I have a 2 year old boxer dog, we love him to bits. I just hope he doesn't love the chickens to bits.
     
  6. chickenbottom

    chickenbottom Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 30, 2008
    hollister, florida
    the best thing to do is to lock them into the coop for about a week so they establish it as hey i sleep here this is home. once they get that into their heads they will go into it when its dark by themself. it sounds mean but it works
     
  7. mommto3kiddos

    mommto3kiddos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 9, 2011
    Quote:<--- That cutie ate one to bits... [​IMG]
     
  8. epeloquin

    epeloquin Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mar 11, 2011
    Western Massachusetts
    I put my girls in the coop the first couple nights after a few more days I put a couple of them on the roost so they'd know it was there. Since then (over two weeks) they go in on their own every night, whether in the run or out, within 5 minutes of 8:30pm. It's actually kind of cute to wait for the time and watch them file into the run and into the coop and one by one up onto the roost.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2011
  9. Hangin Wit My Peeps

    Hangin Wit My Peeps AutumnBreezeChickens.com

    the best thing to do is to lock them into the coop for about a week so they establish it as hey i sleep here this is home. once they get that into their heads they will go into it when its dark by themself. it sounds mean but it works

    I 2nd that [​IMG]

    Mine have always went 'home' as long as I locked them inside for a week first. Never had a problem at all.​
     
  10. Urban Chaos

    Urban Chaos Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 9, 2011
    Austin
    Our girls went outside at 3-4 wks old, we did not do the lock them in a week method, instead, we would heard them toward the coop, some would walk up the ramp - others were placed in. This was done each evening for several days. Now they just go in when they are done for the day.
     

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