Tips for free ranging for the first time...

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by juliaaa, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. juliaaa

    juliaaa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2011
    Syracuse, New York
    Hello... We have 4 Golden Comets that we want to let free range. We got them from someone who had 60 of them in a small coop. They have now been in a bigger coop for about 3 weeks and we were thinking about letting them free range sometime soon, possibly this weekend depending on the weather. I'm very nervous about this but my boyfriend insists everything will be fine. They are too fast to try to catch which is what makes me nervous. Any tips anyone can offer?

    In the coop (sectioned off at the moment) are 17-18 week old EE's that will not be free ranging yet. So I've got to keep the coop door closed so they don't get out...

    Thank you for any advice or help or kind words that anyone has to offer [​IMG]

    ~Not sure what section I should be posting this in either~
  2. Kaitie09

    Kaitie09 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 28, 2009
    South Central, PA
    I would first only let them out about 1hr before they normally go in to roost. During that time, I would lock the little ones in the coop just so that the big girls can get into the run. They normally will automatically try to get back into the coop, so leaving the run open for them would help. As soon as they all head into the run, lock the door and just open the pop door to the coop to let them in.

    I have flighty chickens too, and to herd them, I just stand back about 3-4ft with my arms spread out. They try to stay in between your arms, so it is easy that way. You can also use 2 brooms or sticks to herd them.
  3. mandelyn

    mandelyn Overrun With Chickens

    Aug 30, 2009
    Mt Repose, OH
    My Coop
    I would let them all out, or none of them. Supposing you've had them all more than 2 weeks, so that they know where home is. The first time, let them out early in the evening, so that they have about an hour or so of daylight left. They shouldn't go far and should also return home to roost. Slowly increase the time from there.

    Will you be watching them or leaving them? Predators are the thing I would worry about. I have hawks that circle around every day looking for doves, squirrels, and pigeons, and one has sat on the top of the run to scope out at the chickens. The neighbor cat chicken-watches too, but, it's a chicken itself.

    Usually they're fine, monitored or left on their own. It's that one time when a predator shows up that it isn't fine anymore. And you never know what kind of predator it will be, a hawk swiping just one, or a dog rampaging through all of them.

    Once you've had the chickens for a couple of weeks so that they recognize home, they don't have to be any certain age to be allowed to free range. From there, it's all a matter on how many predators you have, what sort of neighbors or fencing you have, and how much risk you're willing to take. Many people free range and don't lose any. Others are fine with a couple of losses here or there, in exchange for the over all happiness of the remaining birds and the benefits of free range.

    I don't have enough birds to lose any easily. I have 6 neighbors all around, and don't let them out long enough to get bored and go over the fence. Hawks and an owl are the other issues, as well as my own dogs. It's a balancing act with whatever your set up is and your comfort level.
  4. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    Not sure where you want to free range them, open yard or fenced off? If open can they get into the road or onto other property? If fenced then this will go much easier for you, even though they could potential get over a small 4 foot fence. My suggestion to you is to have their favorite treat. When you treat them use the same container, something red is my suggestion. This is so if you need to get their attention you have a nice red TREAT container they can see and hopefully by now they know it well too. another suggestion is to free range them the first time very close to bed time so they will naturally be encouraged to stay close to the coup. Chickens will naturally stay close to their food and shelter.

    Go for it! I'm sure it will go well!
  5. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio

    When I first start free ranging my chickens, (and I live in the country, with six acres, mostly wooded), what I do is open the coop door and let them out an hour before dark. That way, I can keep an eye on them. It won't be long before it starts to get dark, and then you'll be surprised when they automatically return to the coop.

    Now, if I want them in early for some reason, I throw down some cracked corn into their chicken run, and they cannot resist going in for it! They just love it! Once everybody is inside, I shut the door.
  6. juliaaa

    juliaaa Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 15, 2011
    Syracuse, New York
    I'm not worried about them getting into the road or going into the neighbors yards or anything. The neighbors have free range chickens of their own that are always out. They'd be free ranging in what used to be a cow pasture and no real predators that I can think of besides the every other month turkey vulture that flys overhead. I'm more just worried about them coming back.

    I'll just let them all out. The EE's we free range before we got them anyways.

    Thanks [​IMG]

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