Transitioning chickens from free range to enclosed run

Frenchielouisesilkies

In the Brooder
Dec 30, 2020
8
8
19
Los Angeles, California
I was very excited to have my rescued flock of three free range in my yard but realized it’s not a sustainable option for me due to the amount of poop that accumulates.

I am going to transfer them into a new coop/run that will be around 10 x 10 sq ft. How can I make the transition from free range to an enclosed run smooth for them?

I’m very worried about stress or boredom affecting their well being after having been free roaming for 6 months. I love them so much and do not want them to be unhappy or bored, somebody help!!
 
Last edited:

Sally PB

Crossing the Road
Premium Feather Member
Aug 7, 2020
8,367
36,640
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Belding, MI

Mrs. K

Free Ranging
12 Years
Nov 12, 2009
9,483
13,175
656
western South Dakota
Yes, the ^^ advice. So many runs are an open rectangle, where as chickens can see each other 100% of the time, and makes no use of the vertical space. Adding clutter, roosts, platforms actually increases the space, because you can have birds under a platform or on top of it. Roosts, saw horses, branches, boxes, mini walls all make the space much more interesting.

That being, they will act like they are dying when you go out, and may escape behind you for a couple of days, but just be firm, and they will get over it.

Mrs K
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,075
22,798
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Southeast Louisiana
Hi, welcome to the forum. Glad you joined. If you stick around, and I hope you do, it can be beneficial if you modify your profile to show your location. Knowing something about your climate, whether you are north or south of the equator, or which country or state you are in can come in handy for so many different reasons.

The real issue here is not with the chickens, it's with your expectations and perceptions. Chickens usually don't like change but they are adaptable. They will be upset for a few days but will soon get over it. Be consistent and allow them to get over it.

Do you have the coop and run built yet? A 10 x 10 area is a lot of room for three chickens as long as it is available. Will they be locked in the coop section only either by your management methods or by bad weather? One of the biggest boredom busters is them having plenty of room. If they are going to be locked in the coop section only very much when they are wake it really helps to give them as much room as you reasonably can.

I haven't read the entire thread that Sally linked, just the first couple of posts, but that's good info. Your three hens will probably strip that 10 x 10 area bare of any green stuff, some of that depends on your climate and time of year but I think you'd have to be in a pretty lush area for any green to remain for very long. You might consider a grazing frame. Make a raised area, probably a rectangle, with something like 2x6's and cover the top with wire with openings too small for their heads to go through. You can either leave the native grass or sew various seeds in it. The idea is that the plants grow through the wire where the chicken scan eat them but cannot reach them well enough to rip them out by the roots or scratch them out of the ground. In your growing months they will enjoy grazing on the greens.

If you don't do a grazing frame maybe put a compost pile in the run. They will greatly enjoy scratching and eating from that. Some people even turn their entire run into a compost pile.

The main thing is to give them room and your 10 x 10 for three hens is a good start. I don't know that this other enrichment really helps them that much, but it sure doesn't hurt.
 

Frenchielouisesilkies

In the Brooder
Dec 30, 2020
8
8
19
Los Angeles, California
Hi, welcome to the forum. Glad you joined. If you stick around, and I hope you do, it can be beneficial if you modify your profile to show your location. Knowing something about your climate, whether you are north or south of the equator, or which country or state you are in can come in handy for so many different reasons.

The real issue here is not with the chickens, it's with your expectations and perceptions. Chickens usually don't like change but they are adaptable. They will be upset for a few days but will soon get over it. Be consistent and allow them to get over it.

Do you have the coop and run built yet? A 10 x 10 area is a lot of room for three chickens as long as it is available. Will they be locked in the coop section only either by your management methods or by bad weather? One of the biggest boredom busters is them having plenty of room. If they are going to be locked in the coop section only very much when they are wake it really helps to give them as much room as you reasonably can.

I haven't read the entire thread that Sally linked, just the first couple of posts, but that's good info. Your three hens will probably strip that 10 x 10 area bare of any green stuff, some of that depends on your climate and time of year but I think you'd have to be in a pretty lush area for any green to remain for very long. You might consider a grazing frame. Make a raised area, probably a rectangle, with something like 2x6's and cover the top with wire with openings too small for their heads to go through. You can either leave the native grass or sew various seeds in it. The idea is that the plants grow through the wire where the chicken scan eat them but cannot reach them well enough to rip them out by the roots or scratch them out of the ground. In your growing months they will enjoy grazing on the greens.

If you don't do a grazing frame maybe put a compost pile in the run. They will greatly enjoy scratching and eating from that. Some people even turn their entire run into a compost pile.

The main thing is to give them room and your 10 x 10 for three hens is a good start. I don't know that this other enrichment really helps them that much, but it sure doesn't hurt.
A grazing frame is an amazing idea! Thank you so much for taking time to reply, I so appreciate it.
 

Frenchielouisesilkies

In the Brooder
Dec 30, 2020
8
8
19
Los Angeles, California
Welcome to BYC!!
Do you have objects in the run to help with boredom and to allow them to get away from each other when needed? Logs, chairs, perches, etc.
Heya! Thanks so much for taking time to reply. The run is yet to be built but once it is I plan to fill it with many objects like those and build the run vertically as well
 

Frenchielouisesilkies

In the Brooder
Dec 30, 2020
8
8
19
Los Angeles, California
Yes, the ^^ advice. So many runs are an open rectangle, where as chickens can see each other 100% of the time, and makes no use of the vertical space. Adding clutter, roosts, platforms actually increases the space, because you can have birds under a platform or on top of it. Roosts, saw horses, branches, boxes, mini walls all make the space much more interesting.

That being, they will act like they are dying when you go out, and may escape behind you for a couple of days, but just be firm, and they will get over it.

Mrs K
Great idea! I will add in some obstacles within the run to make it more interesting and focus on building it vertically. Two of the hens are very docile but the head hen will literally drag her beak along the chicken wire like an inmate when I go out. So hard to ignore but I will have to so she gets over it!
 

RojoMarz

Songster
May 21, 2020
748
1,266
211
Southern CO...at 8600 ft
I also transitioned to no free ranging, after they had been...my most challenging aspect was that every time I opened the run door, 7 pullets tried to run out. I had to put up a piece of plywood, that is about 15" tall, across the run opening. I step over it, but the girls aren't able to run out any longer. Makes it much easier for me to get into the run. It's been up a while and now they don't rush the door.
 

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