Wll this set up work?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by leanne2015, Jan 9, 2016.

  1. leanne2015

    leanne2015 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 9, 2016
    I rent stables for my horses and next to the stables is a space 9ft x 20ft. I was planning on building the run there and because I am there every morning and evening I was going to open up the run in the morning and close in the evening.

    This is the issue I am confused about. There is a huge area of hard standing connected to the stables that is fenced off. I could cover the fence with chicken wire to confine them in there giving them a lot of room or ---- could leave the chicken wire off and allow them under the fence to go for a wonder in a 3 acre paddock with horses? Will they return to their coop? Will they wonder even further and never come back?

    There isn't electric up there so I cannot use lights, I was just hoping on the evening they would know that seeing me means food so would wonder back? Am I wrong?

    What's best?
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs I Wanna Be A Cowboy Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    My large chickens are totally free range, they are never locked up except for those first week or two to get them used to their new home, mine always come back, and often don't go far, as long as they find their coop or pen comfortable and safe and that's where the food and water is they will return.
  3. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Flockless Premium Member

    Jan 30, 2015
    Africa - near the equator
    Ditto, l only keep new additions in the coop for two nights - after that they know where home is.

  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Curious as to how the owner of the stables feels about your plan?

    You will have to time your visits to match the chickens schedule, especially in the evening,
    so they can be locked safe in the coop at night....unless you plan to just let them sleep wherever they want.
  5. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    You are a bit wrong. Chickens are creatures of habit. Once they get used to sleeping in a place they return there to sleep as it starts to get dark. It has nothing to do with seeing you or food. If you lock them in there for a week they should return to the area to sleep at night once you let them out. It’s home and where they sleep.

    You may notice I used a weasel word there. Instead of saying they would absolutely every time without a doubt I said should. With living animals you don’t get absolute guarantees. There is a very remote possibility they may decide to sleep somewhere else, but it is really remote. Mine always have wanted to return home as it gets dark. Chickens are not real good on the concept of gate. There have been a few times mine have been trapped on the wrong side of a fence and totally forget about the gate they have been using all day to go in and out. They are desperately trying to get through the fence to get home but just forget about that gate. I suggest the first couple on nights you be there around dark in case they get in that situation. After a time or two of me helping them they catch on but their bird brains just don’t use logic like ours. This does not always happen but it has a couple of times.

    Mine don’t always go inside the coop the first few times. I’m talking about my elevated grow-out coop, I’ve never had this with my main walk-in coop. I think it being elevated has something to do with it but often they will roost in the immediate area instead of going inside. They are pretty easy to catch after dark so I just toss them in the coop and lock them up for the night. The eventually catch on, some faster than others. With some of those I’ve only had to toss them in once, some take three weeks. With that stall on the ground I’d really expect them to march right in but don’t be shocked if they are just in the area. But be really comfortable that they will be in the immediate area.

    There is another thing. Their bird brains may not logic like ours but that does not mean they are dumb. If something happens inside the coop to make them uncomfortable they may break with habit and look for another place to sleep. Chickens don’t like change. It’s possible a major reconstruction inside the coop can make them uncomfortable. In a recent thread someone totally rebuilt the roost area. Instead of using the much nicer roosts, they moved outside. They still slept in the immediate area so all he had to do was lock them inside, but it was a change.

    If a predator attacks inside the coop, well that would make me uncomfortable too. They will still probably go back inside the next might but they might not.

    Sometimes mine can be really brutal to each other as they are settling down to sleep. Occasionally this gets so bad that the lowest in the pecking order look for a safer place to sleep. That place may be inside the coop, like your nests, or it can be somewhere outside the coop. With mine this is almost always when I’m integrating younger chickens but it can happen with older chickens all the same age. There is a very easy fix for this. You have a big stall with plenty of room. Install more roosts than you think you need. Don’t try to squeeze them onto the tiniest bits of roost you can, give the weaker room to get away from the stronger.

    I’ve probably caused you to worry some. I’m sorry if I did but with living animals things happen. The odds are tremendously huge that you will have none of these issues. If you lock them in that coop for a week before you let them roam they will almost certainly march right in there at dusk. But if you see any of this deviant behavior you will know that it is normal and pretty easy to fix.
  6. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Chicken Obsessed

    Nov 12, 2009
    western South Dakota
    Personally I would set up both options. There are times when the 3 acre paddock won't be a good idea.

    In a perfect set up for chickens, the owner has a couple of options. In my set up, I have a run large enough to keep them confined comfortably. They can and sometimes do stay in the run/coop combination for days at a time. The birds have free choice to be in the run or the coop 24/7. I don't ever lock them in the coop at night. This way, they put themselves to bed, and get out and about when they wake up. This allows me to be gone for a couple of days. It is also a retreat when I get a predator hanging around for a quick and easy meal. This set up is pretty darn secure, and I have proofed it through trial and error.

    But I do like to let mine out and about. The more consistent you are about letting them out, the farther they will roam. Sometimes, they will hid a nest out in the wild, but generally you can just retrain them by confining them to the coop/run for a few days.

    Mine have always come back to the coop by themselves to roost up. I do have to go down and shut up the run, if I have let them out to free range to keep the night time predators out.

    The problem with the 3 acres is that you more than likely will get predators, once they find you, you need a safe place for the birds you have left. I don't let my birds free range on windy days or overcast days, it gives the advantage to the predators. Also, I don't let my birds out to free range on a consistent schedule, say every morning at 8. Somedays they are out all day, some in the morning, some not till afternoon. I have a rooster, which helps, but is not fool proof. If you free range, you need to realize that you are pretty likely to loose some birds, and dang nab it, it generally is the one you like best!

    Mrs K
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2016
  7. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    X 2 on all counts.
  8. leanne2015

    leanne2015 Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 9, 2016
    The owners are fine.... that is why I'm planning on getting chickens?

    Anyway, I am up there morning, most days and evenings as I run a business from there.

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