When and How to Let Flock for Supervised Free-ranging?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by hihuckleberry, Feb 24, 2018.

  1. hihuckleberry

    hihuckleberry In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2018
    Los Angeles
    Hi, I just brought home new birds a week ago. All around 4-8 months old (2 are laying already). I have them in a coop/run that is about 12ft x 9ft, but I would like to let them free range in the yard when I'm out working in the garden. I have about a 5ft fence around the yard. A: Will they fly away B: If they do, will the return? C: Will they go back into their house from the yard at sundown? D: Is it ok to just let them poop all over the garden?

    So many questions. I am a first time chicken owner! So nervous and confused!
  2. Meg-in-MT

    Meg-in-MT Crowing

    Jan 29, 2018
    SW Montana
    My chickens all free range with an average fence...4ft maybe? They can escape and go as they please, but they never fly up and out. They will squeeze through the gates, though :) In my area, this had been a non issue.
    It all depends on the type of predators/protectors you have. Mine are let out in the morning and are unsupervised all day. But I have dogs on patrol and they are quite large. The chickens return to their coop, as they know it's a safe spot, roosts, nest boxes etc. They wander quite far and always come back. I don't let them in my garden :) hope this helps!
    hihuckleberry likes this.
  3. rosemarythyme

    rosemarythyme Crowing

    Jul 3, 2016
    Pac NW
    My Coop
    When I'm doing supervised free ranging, I just herd/carry them to where I want them to be and leave them to it. My yard is unfenced so I do keep an eye on how far they wander.

    A&B) No, they don't fly away. Then again mine are used to being handled and I can pick most of them up or herd them around as needed.
    C) I don't ever leave them out that late, if the sun is down I'm not out gardening! Mine do eventually go back to their coop and run on their own once they get bored. Or they'll come find me (last time they walked across the driveway to where I was, after about 2 hours) and I'll take them back.
    D) That is up to you. I clean up poop on the main lawn as my dog will eat it. However my dogs aren't allowed on my side lawn, and that's where I've been putting the chickens lately, so no I don't clean up over there. I do fence off any garden areas that I absolutely don't want them in, like my vegetable beds.
    hihuckleberry likes this.
  4. 2 many chickens

    2 many chickens Songster

    Jan 14, 2017
    My chickens free range all day. Never 'lost' any of them. They have a lot of space to roam as we live on a farm. They do wander off to my neighbors sometimes and dust bathe in her backyard lol. I don't think she likes it but has never complained. They go near the road but never in it. By dark, all fluffy butts go to their coop. If they are not quick enough my roosters scream at them to hurry up and get in the house lol
    hihuckleberry likes this.
  5. chickens really

    chickens really Crazy Call Duck Momma

    Hello..First start letting them out an hour before Dark and as it starts getting dusk you can then herd them back in..I used a long stick and tapped the ground as I said bedtime.
    Now I just say bedtime and everyone runs back in..
    Best wishes..
    hihuckleberry likes this.
  6. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler!

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Welcome to BYC!

    I wouldn't...but....bigger concern is that they likely will tear up all your plants.
    Relleoms, hihuckleberry and sunflour like this.
  7. SueT

    SueT Free Ranging

    May 27, 2015
    SW MO
    Welcome to BYC!
    What I have discovered is that once chickens are accustomed to their new home, when you first let them out, they will carefully orient themselves so they can find their way back in.
    I just recently allowed a group of 6 pullets out to range for the first time, and no one got confused as to how to get back in. They practiced going in and out. They even came in out of the rain!
    It helps to teach them to come when called, using treats, just in case you might want them in early. I don't like letting them stay out till sunset, so I call them in late afternoon.
    Relleoms and hihuckleberry like this.
  8. GC-Raptor

    GC-Raptor Crowing

    Jul 26, 2016
    Connecticut, U.S.A.
    My coop is in the center back side of a 500 square foot pen. When I first let my hens free range, I let them out 2 hours before sunset. When it started to get dark they tried to get into the coop through the fence. I had to herd them, to the gate to show them how to get to the coop. I had to show some of the hens for 5 days. And a couple of times after that when it started to rain, some got confused and I had to herd them to the gate. After a couple of weeks they always found their way back.
    I now only let them out to free range 1 hour before sunset daily weather permitting. Because they found their way to my neighbors yard across the street when I let them out 4 hours before sunset. She text me saying my hens were in her yard.
    Moral of the story, the longer you let them free range, the father they may roam. I had no hens leaving my property, when I let them free range for 2 hours for months, not till I let them out for 4 hours a couple of times. They are content with 1 hour a day, and have not gone to the neighbors. 20171028_171531.jpg . If you let them in your garden they may eat your plants and dig them up. GC
    hihuckleberry likes this.
  9. hihuckleberry

    hihuckleberry In the Brooder

    Feb 24, 2018
    Los Angeles
    thanks for the advice everyone! really helpful! i think ill try letting them out later this afternoon. i have their coop in an area with raised veg beds, i guess i’ll have to block those off somehow. do you think one week is long enough for them to think of the coop as “home”?
  10. Chelsa'sChicks

    Chelsa'sChicks Songster

    Aug 16, 2017
    Your fence should hold them. I would put a fence around your garden if its a vegetable garden because they WILL go in and eat everything in about 10 minutes or less depending on the size of your garden.

    I would keep them cooped for another 2 weeks just so they 100% know THIS is home (but that's just me). They should not fly away and your fence is tall enough I would say. I had 1 hen flutter over an area of my 4ft fence, but that was because the entire flock was on the other side and she wanted to join them.

    Yes, they will 100% return to the barn especially with your yard being fenced. My birds free range 100% and they always return to the barn to roost about 1-1.5 hours before dark. They also never travel too far either and I only have certain areas fenced.

    YES let them poop in or near your garden. Chicken poo is the best type of manure for plants actually.. its better then cows. It is more acidic and is especially perfect for tomatoes.

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