tips for training to free range and dog help

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by cracked_egg, Jun 2, 2010.

  1. cracked_egg

    cracked_egg Chirping

    Jun 2, 2010
    Ok, completely new to chickens, had some meat chickens as a kid and turned me off completely... But I've had a change of heart and now have 36! (See I've really cracked my egg)... Anyway, they re are 11 buf orpingtons, 11 silver laced wyandottes and 11 dominiques, plus three silkies... (Sorry for typos I can't see what I'm typing). Anyway.... The orps, slw and silkies are 2.5 weeks old. I have moved them into the coop/horse stall in the barn. But I haven't let them out yet. I do not have the ability to put them in a run before free ranging them, so how do I teach them to come back? Or do I just hope and pray? And since they aren't in a run, how early can I let them out.

    My question about dogs is, will chickens defend themselves against a small dog? I have a jack russel sized Min Pin... About 12 pounds or so, but she is very prey driven.... And I have a veryold akita that doesn't get around well, but ever now and again he goes after a cat or something... He hasn't caught a cat in years... So, how worried should I be? The akita is close to being put down, so not too worried about himm, but the Min Pin is already sitting outside their coop praying forr a chance at them.... (And yes she gets corrected, but she has a very thick head)... And should I worry for her safety when they're older? How much damage can a chicken or roo do to a small dog? Thanks in advance!!!! (Oh yeah, they have plenty of room, so not worried about road, more worrieed bout neighbor dogs and horses stomping them and them not coming back....
  2. Woofless

    Woofless Chirping

    Apr 7, 2010
    I'm new to chickens too so I'm sure you'll get better answers.....figured I'd chime in mostly for the dog thing, as dogs are something I've got considerably more experience with [​IMG]

    As far as the chicks there any way you can set up even a temporary barrier out of chicken wire & let them out for short periods of time when you're there to watch?? I didn't start letting mine go outside until 6 weeks- but then again, we had periods of COLD where I live until mid-May. Mine naturally "put themselves to bed" in their pen at night after ranging outside all day....they did it from day 1, but I don't know if chicks that young will do it.

    Chickens and dogs....I've heard stories of the occasional "mean rooster" who'll take on a dog but for the most part, from what I've seen, heard & read....the majority of chickens will instinctively "flee" when they are frightened by a predator. If a dog dashes into the coop to chase chickens, the chickens flap, flutter, run and do whatever they can to escape. This movement only serves to trigger the predatory response in a highly prey-driven dog....the dog can easily escalate from "chasing for fun" to "hunting to kill" when stimulated by a close-proximity chase. I've yet to lose one of my birds to my dogs, but I've seen the behavior and how it escalates MANY times when my dogs have gone after rabbits, raccoons, possums, birds & other critters. Chickens are ill-equipped to withstand a predator's swift attack.....Never heard of a hen, especially, doing anything to "defend" itself against a dog.

    I would imagine your dog is far more of a threat to your chickens than the other way around, even if your dog IS small. At 12 lbs, she's still going to be bigger than your chickens when they're fully grown......and if she's truly THAT highly prey driven, size isn't even a factor....there are 15 lb Terriers who are still used to hunt fox & badger, LOL. I have two HIGHLY prey driven small dogs (and one highly prey driven bigger dog, plus two bird dogs LOL). The little ones are Basenjis, a primitive hunting hound native to Africa. With their particular temperament & level of drive, "training" them to leave the chickens alone is minimally effective at best. It only takes an instant for their instinct to take over- and I've seen these dogs ignore electrified sheep fencing, E-collars, invisible fence collars, etc....just to go after a critter. least for MY dogs who I simply WILL NEVER trust not to kill chickens....the best approach involves training AND physical control....such as a barrier, leash, something that physically keeps the dog from accessing the chickens. If you can't build a run for the chickens, can you build a fence or run to keep the dogs in when you're not there to immediately supervise? Can you set up a tie-out system for them? Even if you're able to train the mini pin to listen to you & ignore the chickens when you're there to control her, a fence or tie-out would give her a little bit of outdoor freedom without requiring you to be there every minute.

    If it was me, I'd definitely do something to *physically* keep the dogs seperated from the chickens.....There are some dogs who have the right temperament to be OK with free-ranging chickens, but other dogs aren't compatible. You know your dogs best- trust your instincts- if you think there might be trouble, you're probably RIGHT. Free ranging birds & prey driven dogs is a recipe for disaster at some point in most cases......Just my 2 cents, like I said I'm sure others with more experience will chime in as well.
    Good luck [​IMG]
  3. Minniechickmama

    Minniechickmama Senora Pollo Loco 8 Years

    Sep 4, 2009
    Have a fence above ground to keep the chickens on one side and have an in-ground fence and properly train your bird killer to stay on its side. Trust me, I have been there and learned the hard way.
    As for the birds coming back to roost, most of them will without a problem. They don't generally like to wander very far from the "coop" at first until they become familiar with where they are, but once they know where they are supposed to roost, when night begins to fall, they will start going there on their own and you just close the door. That being said, there are some breed who like to roost in trees and might find one they like better than the one you have for them. I didn't read all you list of what you have, most of them I think won't be a problem. Hopefully, someone with a bit more experience in that area will pipe in for you. Or should they PIP in? [​IMG]
    Good luck.
  4. cybercat

    cybercat Songster

    May 22, 2007
    Greeneville, Tn
    Keep chicks locked up till at least 5 months old. Reason for this is that they will NOT be able to protect themselves any younger. Keep your dogs away from them at all times. Do NOT trust your dogs at all. Chickens will most likly not make it without a few roosters to protect them. If you have predators this includes racoons, foxes and hawks, you will lose birds. Dogs are a major problem to killing chickens. I suggest you build a secure pen ASAP. Your silkies are at most risk with free ranging as they can not see that well. They are small and can not run or fly as fast as the others too.
  5. cracked_egg

    cracked_egg Chirping

    Jun 2, 2010
    Hey! Thanks so much guys!!! My dog and I had a "come to Jesus" meeting today, and she is liking my way of thinking... The only thing I've ever seen her kill is a mole/mouse... She is NOT free range, lol.. She is a house dog, but when I let her out to potty she is loose, and I don't want to take that away from her... Neighbors are about 1/4 mile or more away, but their dogs roam a good bit... Might be having a talk with them... But they are right across road from another neighbor/friend and she free ranges her chickens, no complaints about their dogs, more her own and the road [​IMG]

    I was more worried they'd attack my dog and rip her eye out, but if she'll be ok, we'll just see how it goes... I wasn't planning to let them out until they were 6 weeks, and then all dogs would be up... It is just that they have to walk through an arena to get outside, there is no way to create (well no practical way) a fenced pen that leads outside.

    Poor chickens... I did get extra just in case I'm no good at this... Thanks for the tip about the silkies! Never thought of it!!!

    I can't wait till they're big enough to be loose!!! They are so pretty when free ranging, that's why I wanted chickens! The eggs are just a plus!

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