Will they really come in at night?


14 Years
Jun 7, 2009
Brightwood, OR
My Coop
My Coop
I'm worried about 2 things with regard to free ranging.... They are 11 and 15weeks old (6 total). So far they have just been in the chain link run, inside my fenced 1acre (hopefully can see from pic). The fence around the acre is mostly 6ft. tall but some of it I am worried about, it's only 4ft with wood around the top (in first pic - looks like a nice place to roost). So if I let them out for some free range time will they really come back to the run/coop at dusk? It seems like a long way and there are trees, 1 heavily wooded area even though fenced. I'm just worried I will have to "round them up" if they wont come back at night. And will they jump/fly over the smaller fence or will they be to happy running around to care? Any advice appreciated!!!

Does the 4 foot fencing have wire too, or is it just wood? Depending on the breed, I would think they may fly over it, or certainly through or under it. Do you have to worry about predators also?

My only experience is with 6 chickens free ranging a little under an acre, all fenced with 4 to 6 feet wire fencing. Some woods, some wetland. They always are in the coop at dusk and ready to settle in for the night. IMHO everyone has unique set ups and circumstances that they have to work out around general rules.
The fence does have wire all the way to the ground to keep my dog in. They are RIR's, not clipped wings.... I know they can fly pretty good as they roosted on top of thier house one time and it's 5ft.... As for predators, I dont think I have to worry about them during the day, just night... Hope I'm not wrong but due to unemployment, I'm home would watch them while free ranging... An option that would be a pain but put my mind at ease on the fence issue, would be to confine them to only half of the acre - the one with tall fences instead of the whole acre.... But do you think they will come home at night even if a half acre away from thier house???
Your set up reminds me so much of a friends yard and her chickens daily routine. On rare occasions her chickens would go beyond the yard but did come back home. They always went in the coop for the night on thier own with the exception of the Americauna, who prefered to roost in the piracantha. They gave up trying to get her to come down and go to bed with the others, and it just became a normal course of routine to let her roost there. Possums were around, but no raccoons and they didn't have any problems.
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A motivated chicken will probably get out, but because of fore-mentioned motivation will probably get back in, too. I wouldn't worry about that. Chickens will generally come home to roost at dusk.

I would be more concerned about predation due to raptors during the day. Raptors will try for your free-rangers unless the chickens have a covered run. Some folks put out little hideaways in various areas for chickens to nip into should a raptor show up. Don't count on forested areas to be enough protection for them unless you have heavy underbrush. Several species of hawks hunt under the forest canopy, using it to their advantage- chickens don't see them until the chicken is in it's clutches.

Something to be aware of.

Good luck.
Here are some methods used to ensure they return, or teach them to come back in:

Confine them to the coop for a few days when first moved into it. Begin letting them out for a couple of hours or so at the end of the day. Place a small night light in the coop so it is lighter in there than outdoors at dark; you can use a battery operated closet light that costs around $6. Choose a call to call them for treats: a specific repeated phrase or whistle, and always say the same call when offering treats. Then use the call at dusk to call them to the coop, and give a small treat inside the coop.

I have some who free range and some who are in a large yard all day. I never had to do anything to get them to return to the coop at dusk. I keep their food in the coop. But some people do have a problem getting them to go back in.
Thanks so much for the replies. We just ran to home depot and got some wire plus wooden stakes for a fence we can rollout and roll back up when we need to so that we can seperate the front of the acre from the back - which has the taller fences. We're going to let them into just the back 1/2 acre at first - this evening - just to see how this goes, we can give them the front yard as well, later... Definitely going to try the "night light" in the run too!! They will be able to get under our entire deck for shelter if something wicked flys over head.... We also have posums and racoons but I've never seen them during the day, only at night. I do have a little "heeerrrreeee chickey chickies" call that I've been using since they were wittle babies, hopefully it will mean something to them, guess I'll find out tonight. I'll let you know how it goes! THANKS!
Ours "free range" with supervision a couple of times each day. Today a helicopter flew over head and there was a rumble of the ground as all 7 of our 9 wk old girls ran for the safety of "their" yard and coop. It was an absolute crack up.
Their yard is fenced in and has a top on it. The rest of the yard just has a 6' tall fence. Ours are more interested in rading the veggie garden than wondering off to far for food. Best of Luck to you.
They came home! I'm glad we did this "fence inside a fence" because they are curious like cats, unpredictable, ran/flew around bieng crazy... I wouldnt be surprised at all to see them hop they small fences and even though we have an acre, we are surrounded by developments, streets and cars (see my website) but they DID come home at dusk! yaaay, will keep "ranging" them daily for a few hours, thanks for the help!

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