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Why are our girls wandering?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by rebecca10782, Dec 8, 2008.

  1. rebecca10782

    rebecca10782 Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    The other day, our neighbor called and told us our chickens were in the street! We can't let them freerange anymore, and they are so mad at us. They have a big backyard in the suburbs to wander around. I have never heard of chckens wandering from home, anyone else have this problem?
  2. peeboo

    peeboo Songster

    Apr 9, 2008
    fort bragg nc
    same problem here. i let all my girls free range but they dont always stay in my yard, they are in the street and up the road, hanging around the neighborhood. I think it's normal for them to wander a ways but they most likely wont wander too far.
  3. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    A suburban back yard isn't all that big, to a chicken, and they don't recognize things like yard borders. From the back yard to the street isn't a great distance.

    If you have at least a 4 foot fence, you may be able to keep them in by clipping the wing feathers. You clip the flight feathers on one wing only, on each bird. This throws the balance off enough they shouldn't be able to clear the fence, but should still be able to roost at night, if the roosts aren't too high or too far apart.

    For a temporary fence, you could try the plastic fencing like you see around construction sites. They usually use bright orange, but you can get it in black, it's much less noticeable. You can get inexpensive step-on fence posts to attach it to.

    Or you may want to build a tractor for your girls, so you can move it daily to fresh grass. They get greens and you get the lawn fertilized, and if you move it daily there should be no smell or mess to speak of, if you size it properly. By the time you get it moved back to where you started, the weather should have taken care of it.

    How many hens do you have? Mine free range, but I'm out in the sticks. They normally wander around about a 2-3 acre range, and have no idea where the property line is. Fortunately, there are no neighbors near enough to care, and most try not to run over them when they get out in the road. Many of them buy eggs from me, and wouldn't want to kill off my laying hens.

    Don't feel too bad. A friend of mine got a call from her neighbor to let her know that her guineas had gone down the hill to the highway and were chasing cars.
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2008
  4. digitS'

    digitS' Songster

    Dec 12, 2007
    ID/WA border
    There is a tendency for chickens to stay in sight of their coop but this is a fairly weak tendency. Even plump hens have a fair amount of mobility and with the oversight of a rooster will range out at a distance as they become more confident.

    In Southeast Asia, it isn't unusual to find chickens one-half mile from their home village. I've read a study of junglefowl (the domestic chicken's wild relative) in its habitat. An average flock of 5 birds requires a range of about 12.5 acres.

    If you look at those 2 figures together: a normal range of 12.5 acres with occasional forays within one-half mile - a 1/4 or 1/2 acre suburban yard cannot be expected to contain even a small flock of chickens without either effective fencing, supervision, or both.

  5. Clay In Iowa

    Clay In Iowa Songster

    Oct 9, 2008
    Near Wilton Iowa
    When God created the chicken he included the wandering gene. It's what they do. [​IMG]
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I just came back from a frantic 1/4 mile trek around the farm looking for mine.
    Found them all the way down near the pond, which is quite far from the house and their coop.
    I've noticed they are wandering further since the cold weather arrived and their choices of vegetation has decreased.
    Little boogers! [​IMG]
  7. wateboe

    wateboe Songster

    Sep 8, 2008
    Lebanon, Ohio
    When we had a little group of five birds they stayed very close to their barn all of the time. When we added more they all began to wander! I spent (what seemed like) quite a bit of cash on electric poultry netting to keep them at home and it has worked beautifully... well worth the investment. Our energizer is a plug-in model and we move the fenced area around the barn every few weeks to provide them fresh pasture.
  8. mamaKate

    mamaKate Songster

    Sep 9, 2008
    SE MO
    If the chickens see you as their "rooster"(leader), they copy what they see you do. They will go anywhere they have seen you go. This isn't to discount any additional mindless wandering they might do. lol
  9. JennsPeeps

    JennsPeeps Rhymes with 'henn'

    Jun 14, 2008
    South Puget Sound
    Quote:I was going to say something about needing to go farther to fund the same amount of food. Mine are yard bound but I don't doubt they're go farther if there were no fences. They're just looking for food.
  10. dancingbear

    dancingbear Songster

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    I don't worry about how far mine wander. There's no need to get frantic in my situation, I know they'll be in the coop at dark. But I'm in the country, wandering around in suburbia can have unpleasant responses from neighbors, plus the hazards of traffic and local dogs.

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