Will Free Rangers Magically return @ Sunset???

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by ChickenWendy, Jan 19, 2008.

  1. ChickenWendy

    ChickenWendy Songster

    Dec 3, 2007
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    I had a hard day. I let my chickens out - only 19 now (was 21)- today and around 2:30 it started to snow & rain so i went out to check on them and see if they wanted in. All that was around was my Rooster. The rest of the girls & 2 other roos were up in the brush (we are surrounded by large ditches with tons of briars and bushes and trees -dense). Anyway, I freaked and started beating bushes and searching. Needless to say they all came home on their own by sundown. I lost 2 though - one I found her wing (I'm assuming a hawk? We have lost another that way as well) and the other i just didnt see hide nor hair of.
    Should I worry about them or just let them return by sundown. Usually they come running when I go out to feed them - as i dont feed them until i put them up. I'm really confused.
    They are 13 weeks old and they are all standard breeds - RIR, BO, EE's, & Black Austrolorps.
  2. Iluvmychickens

    Iluvmychickens Songster

    Jun 27, 2007
    Jacksonville, Florida
    When my kids are that young I do not let them free range all day. I let them out but I stay out with them. Some say I am over protective but I disagree. If you let them out all day I suggest you check on them as much as you can.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD

    By that age they should come home by themselves at night. I free range starting as soon as they can be away from the heat, which is 3-4 weeks old in the summer, and they all go home on their own. I've lost a few to hawks but they were crested polish and a silkie which couldn't see and run in time. Sounds like you had some sort of day predator come and snatch a few, expecially if you found a wing, and why they were hiding in the day time. If that is the case, it might never be safe to truly free range your birds. As for birds of prey, they usually pluck the bird and you will find feathers everywhere. It helps to have a few older wise birds out as they know what they are looking for when danger shows up.
  4. Charlie Chicken

    Charlie Chicken Songster

    Dec 24, 2007
    Phippsburg, ME
    If you only have 19 chickens and are already finding wings that aren't attached to birds, after a while there may not be any left to find their way home. Those predators always remember where they got their last meal.
  5. kayri

    kayri Songster

    Jul 6, 2007
    My free rangers almost always return home at night. (I do have 1 bad chicken who has hitch-hiked to the city for a night out and returned the next morning), We don't seem to have a lot of predators around. [​IMG] because we are kind of suburban-rural. If I was finding bits of them I'd be worried.
  6. ChickenWendy

    ChickenWendy Songster

    Dec 3, 2007
    Chesapeake, Virginia
    Well that was what was weird - i didnt understand why they were all hiding in the day - except for 1 of my roosters - the biggest and the oldest. Plus when the hawk got one last time all i saw was feathers and no pieces so i did wonder what got the bird today. I didnt see any pieces of the other one and she didnt come with any of the others so i dont know what happened to her. I think this is just pushing up my timetable to get a good ranging fenced in area for them. Plus it's going to be extra cold over this week so i probably wont let them out this week. I dont want to lose anymore. It's heartbreaking. My kids really take it hard too.
  7. picklespickles

    picklespickles Songster

    Oct 27, 2007
    a rough day. i hope the other one is just still in hiding. [​IMG]
  8. Churkenduse

    Churkenduse Songster

    Jan 1, 2008
    I let mine out a few hours before sundown, I live near woods where there are lots of predetors, they come "home to roost" and I watch for them. I have seen hawks but they never got to my girls. I leave the door to the run open and when a predetor appears they come running and I hear it and go close the gate. The run is next to my house. I could not imagine them being eaten. [​IMG]

    I was told to do that by the 4H club
  9. Berynn

    Berynn Cooped Up

    Oct 13, 2007
    I made the worse mistake letting my chicks free range. I will never do it again, unless they need to be culled. because I dont have the heart to do it. The man at my feed store told me that hawks could not kill a two month old chich. That was a lie.
    Anyway, when I did allow free ranging all my chicks came home at dusk except one. She stayed out all night long and would come tramping home at my bedroom window at the crack of light screaming for food. She refused to allow us to catch her. It took me three days to finally catch her. We call her Jezebell case if given the chance she will stay out all night.
  10. ruth

    ruth Life is a Journey

    Jul 8, 2007
    Woodville, MS
    I have let mine free-range from the time they were 3-4 weeks old. They gradually go farther and farther away from the coop but ALWAYS reappear like magic at sundown and put themselves to bed. We had woods at our last home where they were raised without ever being closed in or locked up and we moved last month to an old homestead surround by thousands of acres of woods. Has an old chicken coop but no enclosed run. This time I do lock them in coop at night but still let them run free all day long. Even though the setting was new for them, they instinctively found their way from coop to all over property and back again at sunset. So far, no losses. Just a bunch of happy go lucky chickens that somehow know when to hide from hawks. Of course we have dogs and cats that patrol the property and keep any furry or four legged predators away. None of the dogs or cats ever bother the chickens. In fact, our German Shephard, Rex has taken turns guarding each batch of day olds. He loves to sleep in bathroom with them in cardboard box.

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