What to scatter for free ranging.

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by Rich Marshall, Jan 30, 2012.

  1. Rich Marshall

    Rich Marshall In the Brooder

    Oct 27, 2011
    I always wondered how people stop their hens from roaming when they are left to free range?
    I guess they scatter something for the hens to feed on?
    What to scatter?
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    Not really. They'll quickly consume anything scattered. In like 10 minutes. After that they start scratching and searching for bugs, seeds and greens. They usually won't get farther than where they can see what is familiar to them (coop and surrounds) so they can get back home in time to roost/lay eggs/ drink.
    At a head height of 18" they can't see that far especially with variable terrain.
    As they feel more comfortable with where everything is they'll continue to venture farther afield.
  3. stcroixusvi

    stcroixusvi Songster

    May 5, 2011
    Western NC
    My Coop
    Ours gradually worked themselves away from the immediate coop fence but still never stray very far. Usually what happens is one of them will panic and they will all fly, and I do mean fly, back to the coop area.

    We did have an exception - one day our aggressive rooster chased one of our very mild mannered roosters into the woods and we couldn't find him. He ended up spending the night out. The next morning I heard - from way down the hill - his pleading crow "come get me!" When I got to him - through the rhododendrun thicket (!) he waited patiently for me to pick him up. He now has his own coop, run, and a couple of hens to keep him company.

    eta: that's him in my avatar
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    Mine free-range - within the confines of my backyard which is fully fenced. So in that sense, I supposed they aren't true free-range, since they do have physical boundaries. Without the fencing they would roam a lot further, I am sure. We will be moving soon to 10-acres and I do plan to free-range them at the new place but will likely put up some post and chicken wire fencing to keep them contained to MY property, as I don't want them visiting the neighbors.
  5. debid

    debid Crowing

    Jan 20, 2011
    middle TN
    Mine have never wandered more than about 100' from the coop. They'll go much farther from it if I'm right there with them than they will on their own. They also stick close to some sort of cover rather than hanging out in the open so their wanderings are fairly predictable.
  6. ECBW

    ECBW Songster

    Apr 12, 2011
    To free range is to let them roam! They will come back to water, feed and lay eggs.

    One thing to keep in mind: change is the only constant. Mine used to stay within 150 feet from the coop. Then cold weather came and they started going farther and into neighbor's yard. Then the hawk came and took some of the slower and smaller birds. The remaining flock is staying close to the coop once again, and thick bushes.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  7. Gyoza

    Gyoza In the Brooder

    Sep 29, 2011
    My red hens are now 8 weeks old. Some can 'fly' 3 feet off the ground. Is it time to trim their avian feathers? As weather warms some more I would be letting them 'free' range the yard. My fence is only 4~5 ft in height.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2012
  8. Illia

    Illia Crazy for Colors

    Oct 19, 2009
    Forks, WA
    My fence is only 5 feet high, and I don't trim anyone's wing feathers. They "free range" on about 2-3 acres of wild pasture and most of the time don't roam more than 100 feet from the coop, although the more brave and better foraging breeds will often go out to a max distance of about 170 feet. No one ever actually flies over the fence, they have no need to.

    The only food I "scatter" for them are things like berries, fruits, seeds, and grains that don't already grow in or near their area. Or, ones I've stored for winter feeding. They eat it very fast, and it keeps them nearby for about 20 minutes but after that they'll do their own thing. [​IMG]
  9. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I have considerable influence over a flocks foraging habits by placement of scattered feeds and / or deployment of feeders. Birds will spend considerable amounts of time where food is easy to get. Further influence can be realized by available cover. I can get birds to go in a particular direction with applied feed / scratch and if area is in close proximity to a patchwork of cover, then birds will then forage and loaf on their own around cover and follow cover strips so long as more eats can be located therein. Net result is flocks can be directed to forage in a given direction or area. This enables keeping multiple separate flocks and directing birds away from areas (property boundaries and garden) I do not want them into.
  10. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Songster

    Apr 14, 2011
    Bolton, Mississippi
    They like to stay under cover of trees, houses, porches, etc. and keep familiar territory in view. At dusk, every night and I mean every night they will troop back into the coop. Chickens do everything naturally, kind of pre-programmed and you can't "train" a chicken to do anything.

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