The dos and don'ts of free ranging

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cmlew99, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. Yes

    2 vote(s)
    66.7%
  2. No

    1 vote(s)
    33.3%
  1. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hello everyone! Currently I have two 16 week old chickens- one Buff Orpington rooster, and a Buff Brahma pullet. I'd really like to give them some time to free range, but am kind of scared. Right now they reside in an A-Frame coop surrounded by a fence with netting on the top. I'd probably be out there with them, watching. The problem is, I live pretty close to my neighbors, and there is nothing really separating our yards. Everything is really open. They only have to walk about ten feet from their coop before they enter the neighbor's yard. How do I know they won't wander away? If they do, how would I get them back? Is my yard layout just not meant for free ranging? I could use all the advice I can get.
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  2. lightchick

    lightchick Overrun With Chickens

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    I have four 15 week old chickens and I have only a chicken wire "fence" to keep them in. They sometimes jump it and wander around, but they usually stay in my yard. Their coop is 10 ft away from the neighbor too. (not a permanent coop so I can move it and I'm going to build a new coop soon) The sometimes go in the neighbors yard, but all I have to do is call them and they'll usually come running, but if they don't come I either get their favorite treat (raisins) and or go over and get them. With their treat I usually only have to show it to them and they come RUNNING!!
    I think you could do it, especially if your watching them.
     
  3. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    chickens are creatures of habit. they know where home is. Generally, they do not stray far from that. If you are worried about it, start training them! start offering them treats in the coop, and find out which ones make them go nuts! start carrying that special treat with you, and giving it to them when you go see them. Once they are conditioned to come to you, try it with the run open. Hang out with them for a while, then go into the run, call them, treat them, and close the door. Slowly extend the period of free range time until you are comfortable with letting them go unsupervised. Most flocks will put themselves to bed when it starts getting dark. Then, you just close the door and secure them (how long have they been roosting in that coop? I keep mine in a new coop with no free range time for a minimum of three weeks to train them where home is).

    One thing I would make sure of though, is that your neighbors are okay with it. when they get more freedom to free range, they may wander onto your neighbor's yard. Chickens are cheeky, and have NO respect for property lines! I think I read somewhere that chickens generally stay within 100 feet of their coop or something like that?

    Granted, I have a half acre, but my chickens rarely leave my yard. Sometimes, they go chill on the porch rails at my neighbor's place (he has a cat feeder), but they always come home at night (I say "they", but in reality, I only have one at the moment. Free ranging has the possibility of opening your flock up to predators. It's something to be aware of).

    Oh, last thing. Not to feed your chicken addiction, or be an enabler or anything, but for the sake of that pullet, you are going to need at LEAST one more...once she reaches sexual maturity, that rooster will be relentless if you plan on keeping him, and if you don't plan on keeping him, she will need another girl to keep her company. She needs more players on her team for support ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  4. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the awesome responses! I just let them out for maybe thirty minutes, with a bag of scratch and meal worms at my side. You guys were right- they weren't really that interested in running away. For some silly reason I thought they'd be like my dog and go tearing down the street :D

    When Edith, my roo (yeah, I know it's not a unisex name, but we thought he was female, and it stuck) started getting a little too far away for comfort, I jingled the Baggie of treats. Mary, the pullet, came sprinting, but Edith ignored me. I guess I have to find a treat that he likes

    @kari_dawn Not to worry! I'm getting two (or maybe three... Heehee) pullets in the next week or so. In the "sexed" chicks we got, I got two Roos and 1 hen. I just rehomed one roo, and I'm hoping to keep this big guy.
     
  5. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Well, if you choose to keep a rooster, you chose a good breed to hang on to (oh, and be prepared. even though orps are a great breed, some roosters can still turn into jerks. if he turns out to not be a good rooster, be prepared to kick him to the curb! I have had to do that with roosters I was super attached to. it was tough, but needed to be done)! I LOVE my Orps. Right now, I only have a blue orp. She started laying around the beginning of the summer. She is alone for now, but I have 16 little ones on the way! (What? including shipping, it was the same price for 9 or for 16!). There's a very good chance your neighbors wont be thrilled if he starts crowing, which is a real shame. there's nothing like a good rooster to protect your girls from danger :/ but mypetchicken.com offers this strange "no crow" rooster collar that is supposed to work by disallowing the rooster from emptying his air sac all at once or something. I am super curious to know if it works.
     
  6. cmlew99

    cmlew99 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I really do hope I can keep him. He is the sweetest thing- he sits on my lap while I pet him, lets me stroke his waddles, and doesn't crow that much so far. I'm hoping it stays that way! Plus, he protects his hen very well.

    I love the look of blue orpingtons- they are gorgeous!! Congratulations on the new chicks!

    I have heard of the "no crow" collar- I think its possible to make your own using velcro as well. It will definitely be considered if mr. Edith steps up his crowing.
     
  7. ShaylaFox

    ShaylaFox Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My chickens are happy to get to free range it makes sure that they don't get bored, and they are happy.
     
  8. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thank you! I ordered some specific breeds, and a mystery batch of "rare" breeds. I am hoping for another blue or two. I simply adore the personality and looks of the orpington, and anything that comes in blue! (well, the lavenders are beautiful too, but too pricey for me)

    I hope you get to keep your roo! Free ranging risks losses, but in my opinion, even if I loose birds, the benefit they get from being allowed to be chickens and run around in the sunshine and green grass (and the benefit my yard and garden get!) are worth it.
     

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