When to start free-ranging

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Lil Chickie Mama, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. Lil Chickie Mama

    Lil Chickie Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Apr 1, 2009
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    When did you first start letting your chickens free range? Everyday I have about 3+ chickens that have literally flown the coop and are on the outside trying to figure out how to get back in. I'm not worried when the majority of the flock is on the inside because then the outside chickens stay as close to them as possible with the fence in between them. However, if I were to let the entire flock out, how would I know if they'd come back? I tried to take half of them (the less desirables) and put them onto my lawn which is a couple hundred feet away. They just ran back after a few minutes. I'm nervous about doing this because I would hate to lose a chicken or rooster ever, but especially before I get any eggs! Also, where are they likely to go? Anywhere? All around everything else is dirt and random weeds, so I'd assume they'd go to the lawn which is nice and green, but I don't know.
     
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    For me, free ranging was a natural process.
    I started taking them outside at about 2 1/2 weeks on nice days. I supervised them constantly.
    As they grew I let them be out longer and longer and supervised less and less.
    Now as grown chickens they are out every day, all day. I check on them a few times a day.
    They explored alot of places at first, but now stay pretty close. At dusk, they put themselves to bed in the coop. They were locked in the coop for two weeks to start (after we moved them from the porch, which was their first home).
     
  3. chickortreat

    chickortreat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 26, 2009
    I don't know how it'll work for your chicks, but when I started letting mine free-range, I'd wait until about an hour before dark, then let them out. That way, they don't stray far away from "home" before time to come back. I even had to pretty much lead mine back to the door the first few times. Now, I open the door right after daylight and they roam until dark. Then we shut them back in. Mine haven't started laying yet, so I don't know how that'll be affected by their roaming. I may have to leave them shut in a little longer in the mornings then to assure that they lay where I want them to. I've seen mine roam as far as three hundred yards away from "home". You might consider how far they'll go, and if that would cause problems with your neighbors. They AREN'T potty-trained! [​IMG] Porch, sidewalk, you name it...they'll poop on it.
     
  4. chickortreat

    chickortreat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, I started at about six weeks. Supervised for about a week...then let 'em go.
     
  5. lilmouthy

    lilmouthy Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 15, 2009
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    The reason yours may run right back to the coop is because you may be taking it too far away for the first time. For about the first week of letting mine free range,they would stay really close to the coop. Even now,they don't go just real far from it. I'll put it to you this way,no matter what day and time it is,I can always look out one of my windows and see my chickens. Mine are 16 weeks old and have been free ranging since they had all of their feathers. I can't remember what age that was exactly. But,I'm thinking if they are able to fly over the coop,they are old enough to be let out. I'm thinking unless something bad happens INSIDE the coop,every evening,they WILL come back to it. There's never been an evening here when mine didn't go into the coop on their own and go to roost.
     
  6. Lil Chickie Mama

    Lil Chickie Mama Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Okay. I guess I should just try tomorrow and see what they'll do...Hopefully I'll be able to report back tomorrow night saying they came back fine.
     
  7. Garin

    Garin Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 23, 2009
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    I would like to start free ranging my 14 hens and single roo. I have been very hesitate due to high predation. Lots of fox and hawks in may area. Birds are now 23 wks. Roo appears to be very protective. Will I get any help from him? I mean, will he keep them from wandering too far. Any recommendations, please????
     
  8. buck431397

    buck431397 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Predation is pretty much the biggest concern that i have with mine. I have 6 hens and a rooster that have been freeranging since last year, and no problems. However, when they first started, i lost a few. Now they seem to either be big enough that stuff doesnt bother them, and smart enough to take care of themselves. Now i have a new flock of some 8 week olds, i let them out one day and one got snatched up just like that. We have alot of hawks around. I think that when they are small, the big birds get them. I am keeping them in their pen until they are a bit bigger now. Of course that poses a problem for my older flock who are used to freeranging all day long, as i like for them to be able to go in and out of their pen... especially since i REALLY appreciate it when they lay their eggs in the coop!
     
  9. buck431397

    buck431397 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    /"Roo appears to be very protective. Will I get any help from him? I mean, will he keep them from wandering too far. Any recommendations, please????/"

    I think that if the roo is mature enough, he will be very helpful. Maybe watch your birds and see how they respond to him when he tells them what to do. See if he notices danger and talks to them about it. the only way to tell im sure is let them out for a little while at a time, when you are home and can keep an eye on them too.
     
  10. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Roos are the biggest help with free range flocks.
    Roos have different vocalizations they make depending on how high the level of threat and whether or not it's an aerial or ground threat. Yes! It's true!
    Provide your free ranging flock with plenty of places to seek cover and they will learn to seek cover depending on what the roo tells them. My roo has one eye on the sky at all times.
    Always always lock them up in a secure coop at night. Trained right and they will return to the coop on their own. All you have to do is lock them up.
     

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