Training chickens for part-time free range?

U_Stormcrow

Free Ranging
Jun 7, 2020
5,154
15,483
606
North FL Panhandle Region / Wiregrass
My birds free range all day. The distance they will free range from the coop and run is proportional to their comfort with the pasture. If an aerial predator has been spotted recently, they don't range far. If the weather has been awful, they will be close to the front of the barn (because the whole barn blocks the prevailing winds, and because it has a large overhang - 6' deep and about 14' wide), or on one of the long sides or the barn (2' overhang, 40'+ length if needed to block the wind.

They come home to the run and coop at night because I only feed them once daily. It works for me. ***BUT*** you need to watch them closely - I'm adjusting how much they are fed pretty constantly. You don't want them eating everything you put down in mere minutes, then mobbing you for more. Neither do you want them walking away with a large amount uneaten. As we come into what passes for "winter" around here - in another month or so - I may go back to twice daily feedings to even out their nutrition some.
 

Aunt Angus

Crossing the Road
Jul 16, 2018
6,637
17,044
832
Nevada County, CA
My flocks comes running full speed, do not pass go or collect $200, feet barely touching the ground (and they often don't touch ground) if I shake the treat bag. Even the ducks, who will try to fly I order to beat the chickens to the treats.

It's gotten to the point that it doesn't even have to be a treat bag. I can come into the coop with anything in my hand and they'll follow.

Stomachs with wings, I tell you.
 

Izzyisdizzy11

Chirping
Jan 25, 2021
63
229
91
If they been in / with the coop for a few days, they typically associate it as home. When it gets dark out they will go back in for the night.

If you are letting them out for an hour or so, I did this for a while here, I also used this as my interaction time, pet / snuggle / tail tug etc with them. I also used it as snack time.

Open the coop let them out, once they are out, have a small treat in your hand, and click your tongue, say a word or make a sound, something to associate with the treat, click and then feed them the treats. Now they will associate this sound with a snack. usually only takes them a few days to learn this too.

When you need them inside BEFORE dark, simply make the click sound, they come running, throw the food snack INTO the coop, let them see you do that, they will all run in after the snack, close the door, chickens corralled.

if you want to spend the time with them, this is also a good time to try to bond with them, tame them down a bit too. click / feed, while they are eating out of your hand, pet them, tail tug, ruffle them, talk nice to them, eventually leading to pick them up, pet them hug them, whatever.

At this point, I just bend over, click, hold out a tiny scrap of food and just reach down and grab the girl i need and carry her over to the pen and plop her inside.

It can be done for most birds but will take a little time up front to get them tamed down and used to you..... and the magic food sound.

Aaron
Thanks so much!
 
Apr 13, 2021
373
702
176
Australia
I started off with two Isa brown chooks. You don't need to clip there wings idk why ppl do that. Anyway seeing as you have left em in the coop for so long, they will now most likely know that that is there house so once U open the door they will go back in at night to sleep, this has been my experience with all chickens. You don't have to offer a treat ect.. they know, they r clever enough.
 

Izzyisdizzy11

Chirping
Jan 25, 2021
63
229
91
I started off with two Isa brown chooks. You don't need to clip there wings idk why ppl do that. Anyway seeing as you have left em in the coop for so long, they will now most likely know that that is there house so once U open the door they will go back in at night to sleep, this has been my experience with all chickens. You don't have to offer a treat ect.. they know, they r clever enough.
Thank you
 

Aunt Angus

Crossing the Road
Jul 16, 2018
6,637
17,044
832
Nevada County, CA
Well, you might need to clip wings if they can clear your fencing. My Sebright and Appenzeller Spitzhauben could easily fly over my fence if it weren't covered with netting - esp my Sebright. He could fly onto the roof of my house! Clipping one wing throws them off balance and can help contain them. This is esp important if you live in a residential neighborhood, and your neighbors have dogs or would rather not find your chickens on their property.

That said, I would not clip wings of birds that are truly free ranged (no fence at all). They need all the mobility they can get to avoid predators if needed.
 

Izzyisdizzy11

Chirping
Jan 25, 2021
63
229
91
Well, you might need to clip wings if they can clear your fencing. My Sebright and Appenzeller Spitzhauben could easily fly over my fence if it weren't covered with netting - esp my Sebright. He could fly onto the roof of my house! Clipping one wing throws them off balance and can help contain them. This is esp important if you live in a residential neighborhood, and your neighbors have dogs or would rather not find your chickens on their property.

That said, I would not clip wings of birds that are truly free ranged (no fence at all). They need all the mobility they can get to avoid predators if needed.
Thanks 👍
 

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