Too chicken to let my chickens free range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by bendystar, Aug 1, 2010.

  1. bendystar

    bendystar In the Brooder

    Apr 28, 2010
    San Diego
    My 3 chickens are about 14 weeks old and kept in a secure 10x10 foot run with attached coop. They have everything they need in there, but are starting to rush the door when I come out to check on them or let them out in the morning.

    I'd like to let them have some free range time during the day but we are in a suburban neighborhood and I'm afraid they will fall prey to a cat, or jump the 6 foot fence into a neighbors yard (with dogs).

    How do I know I'll be able to get them back in the coop when I want to go inside? I only want them out (at least at first) when I'm out there- but with a 3 year old I may not be able to just stay out there, so I need to be able to round them up and put them away. Any tricks? Will I lose them in my plants? Will they destroy my yard? Is it cruel to just keep them in the run? How difficult is it to clip their wings? [​IMG]

    Any advice or words of wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Yay Chicks!

    Yay Chicks! Songster

    Apr 15, 2010
    Forest Grove, OR
    I'm kind of in the same boat. I'm chicken as well. As far as the fence jumping goes, there is at least one good instructional video on Youtube for trimming wings. I'm more worried about a hawk getting them. But, the best advice is, when you get ready to let them free range, let them out an hour or two before dusk, then they should take themselves home to roost. That's what I plan on doing....when I get up the nerve. [​IMG]
  3. Quote:No one can accurately answer your questions, because everyones situation is different, and everyones birds are going to behave differently. With that being said there are a few things that you can do to prepare them, and you!

    - MAKE time to let them out while you watch them, without any distractions, such as when your kid is with a babysitter or at daycare.
    - Let them out for small increments at first, and only in certain areas of the yard until they are familiar with the entire area.
    - Research wing clipping and learn how to do it. Its rather simple, and can be effective. (on the other hand, it may not help at all.)
    - Section off your plants with a barrier of some kind, if you are concerned with loosing them in the bushes.
    - And they will destroy your yard if left out for long periods, or allowed to scratch in soft soiled flowerbeds.

    My personal suggestion to you: leave them where they are. If you have that many concerns, and they are at risk of being prey for stray animals or Animal Control Officers, in their coop is the safest place for them. A 10x10 coop has AMPLE, and I mean AMPLE room for only three birds. At that rate the birds have nearly 33.3 square feet each... most of the data states that cooped birds only need around 6 square feet of floor space.
  4. HudsonValleyGirl

    HudsonValleyGirl In the Brooder

    Jun 9, 2010
    Well this is what I did and this is what my family has done for years:

    My girls are about 14-16 weeks old. They have been going outside all day, almost everyday for 2 months now. This is what we did to get them to this point and if we need to leave we get them in.

    When they were in their coop, I made sure to come out and give them treats and make that tick tick noise while doing it. I did that for a week or so. After that we let them out and I tried it. I said tick tick and they came running in the coop. This works for me and if they are being pains and they won't come in my husband and I herd them in.

    Let them out when you have time. Take sometime and watch them. And I think it is a little extreem to pay for daycare. Your kid can be with you, when you are doing it. We had a cat that was lurking around and my chickens attacked it.

    Do what is best for you. Good luck
  5. booker81

    booker81 Redneck Tech Girl

    Apr 18, 2010
    I give my 2.5 y/o DD a can of BOSS or feed and let her take part in the free range time. She likes feeding them, and it gives her a job to stay close -and keep the chickens close. I just sit in a folding chair and relax.

    Free range in the late evening, about an hour before they roost - they will go in on their own.

    When I do morning range, I just calmly herd them back to the open door. I also throw some BOSS down in the run so they can see there are goodies in there. Most of the time I just need to herd the ones that don't get the fence idea down and just want to go through it.

    Or, just keep them's not as much exercise as it is new scenery for their little chicken brains. The whole "grass is greener" thing. [​IMG]
  6. RECE*2C*

    RECE*2C* In the Brooder

    May 21, 2010
    hi just wanted to let you know whet happened to me [​IMG]

    my chickens are about ( weeks old and they have been in there coop sense there were 4 weeks, about 4 days out of the week i let them out of the coop to explore the back yard (i do live in a city and only 3 sides of my back yard are fenced off) they did not pass the back of the house and i could leave then out there alone for hours and i would go out when it was bed time and they would be roosting. UNTIL yesterday i went out side and they were playing follow-the-leader on the side walk in the front yard [​IMG] so i scolded them and the ran to there coop and i put them a way early

    guess ill have to start over... good look with yours [​IMG]
  7. midget_farms

    midget_farms Songster

    Apr 15, 2008
    Dunlap Illinois
    When I first started with chickens I had one get out. It was crazy - we chased that darn thing for an hour. Couldn't catch it. So I figured it was lost. At dusk it was desperate to get back in the coop! I opened the pop door & it scrambled inside!

    Chickens can't read maps or street signs so they really don't try to go anywhere when they are let out. Since you have a high fence anyway they will be good.

    To start out - I would let them out late in the afternoon - say 6 or 7 pm - so they have some time out but not much before they want to go to bed. This will ensure they don't wander too far before looking to go to bed. After you are comfortable with that you can start letting them out earlier & earlier.

    Now I free range them all - all the time. I set up an automatic pop door that opens in the morning & closes just after dark. They do the rest & I have never lost a bird & they have never left my yard!
  8. sally4500

    sally4500 Songster

    Apr 14, 2010
    This may sound silly, but lots of people do it. (such as the tick, tick, like Hudsonvalleygirl) As soon as my girls went to live out in the coop permanently, every day at some point, I would be in their run with them and yell "chickies!!", and have a favorite treat for them. They would come to me for the treat. I did this everyday only once or twice for them to get to know the sound of my "call". Now, 2 weeks later, and if they are out in the yard, all I have to do is yell "chickies!!" and they come a runnin. They follow me into the run to get their treat, and I close them in. I taught them (and other flocks) this because when I have to go to work in the afternoon, I don't want to be chasing chickens around. They were making me late for work! So I learned the hard way. But now it is so easy. No matter how far away they are, they RUN to me. It is funny to watch. I love my girls!!!
  9. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    I was chicken, too.

    I am lucky in that there is a lot of "cover" for the birds under trees all down one side of my house and back yard. It's so hot lately they all pretty much stay OUT of the open sun and opt for shade.

    When I finally opened the run gate and let them free range in my back yard, the enjoyment I got from watching them explore (and, yes, destroy my garden plants!) was well worth it. Over a period of time, they've learned how to get around to the front yard and over to my land-lady's back yard. Our yards are just separated by a fence, but she leaves the gate open for her 3 Barbados sheep to range freely, too. (They're just not allowed in my back yard, because I have raised garden beds and some rose bushes and stuff.... which the sheep will eat down to the ground faster than any chickens will!)

    I love watching the chickens wander in the front yard. Often I go out and sit in a chair and just enjoy them, front yard, back yard, wherever. It was scary when I decided to let them free range when I was at work.... but so far, no casualties.

    And they always go back to their coops at night.
  10. Ema

    Ema Songster

    Jun 4, 2010
    N. Ontario CANADA
    I am in the same boat but I live in a totally different atmosphere, I've got so many predators where I live that come out during the day and at night that I simply know letting them free range is not an option. there is a lady on the next road down that has tons of chickens and ducks and she even told me that she can't afford to build a pen large enough for all of her chickens/ducks so everyday she loses one or two to foxes or something else, she has a constant supply of chicks so she doesn't even worry about her loss. I however am different, I love my chickens a lot and I want nothing to happen to them so my husband built them a 300sq. foot run and added all the things they might possibly need. my kids, and their freinds when they come over, go around the bushes collecting grasshoppers and worms and fill a can and then they dump it all into the run to give them something extra to chase around. sort of like chicken to watch them do it. there is plenty of bugs around seeing I am surrounded by forest, but a little extra help from the kids isn't a bad idea. I guess it could be very beneficial for them, but if they are getting the right nutrition and treats and they've never free ranged before than they really don't know what they are missing. I too really wish I could let them run about, but in my case its too risky...
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2010

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