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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well I finally received my 6 started pullets. I decide on 2 RIRs, one buff Orpington, one barred rock, one australorp and one Easter egger. So far they are great and have settled in very nicely. It took a few nights for them to learn to head to their coop to roost but now they know the drill. A couple of them eat out of my hands already which I think is pretty good. I found out today that they love cooked oatmeal. Holy cow.

I am thoroughly enjoying my new flock. Next step is letting them free range. I am very nervous about that. Any tips or suggestions will be appreciated.
 

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I would definitely suggest that the first time you let them out to free range you do it on a day that you won't have any other obligations. This way they'll have your full attention so you can keep on eye on them. Chickens are tricky little critters, so you might wanna keep two eyes on 'em. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks. That's what I've read and heard. I was also thinking about doing it about an hour before sun down. Thinking maybe they will head back to the coop at dark.
 

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We let ours out at 5:30 p.m. so that they don't have as much time to wander out to far. Since they don't have a lot of time they mainly stay in the front and back yard and don't go out in the woods.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
MaransGuy said:
We let ours out at 5:30 p.m. so that they don't have as much time to wander out to far. Since they don't have a lot of time they mainly stay in the front and back yard and don't go out in the woods.
Sounds like a good plan. How old were they when you first let them out?
 

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Well, I have two groups and take turns letting them out. I let out one flock one day and the other one the next. I let my White Leghorns out when they were around 8 weeks old and they would go back in at night. I also have a flock of American Game, but they were already grown when I got them and they were used to roosting in trees. So I kept them in the pen for 7 months before I let them out. I was worried they would go back to the trees, but the rooster I had wasn't raised outside and was used to roosting in the pen so the hens followed him back in thank goodness. :)
 

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Yes, the letting them out for just a couple of hours before dark is a good way to start. You may still have to heard them in for a while, but they should catch on quick. If you have issues getting them in, try bribing them with a little scratch in the coop. Just a handful once they are in for a few days should do it.
Also, make sure they range in a safe area. Tree cover is very good, but not too close to open woods. Always look for ways predators may find your flock. Good Luck!
 

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When I get new chickens I keep them in the pen for a couple of weeks before I turn them out and they go right back in at night most of the time. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks to everyone who provided input and expertise. I will try it soon and let you all know how it goes.
 

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What beautiful birds you have!
I would suggest moving the food away from the water, though. I don't know about your chickens, but mine like to dump as much water as they can onto their feed and then they won't eat it. Maybe that's just my birds though! :p
 

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I also let mine out in the late afternoon. I have had a rooster and two hens get too for away. I could hear the rooster deep in the woods that next morning. I never did find them:(
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
MatthewBK - the feed is further away from the water than it appears. The water is also lower so no problem with feed getting wet. However, the feed did get wet once when I spilled the water. They seemed to absolutely love the softer food.
 

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MatthewBK - the feed is further away from the water than it appears. The water is also lower so no problem with feed getting wet. However, the feed did get wet once when I spilled the water. They seemed to absolutely love the softer food.
Ha ha, yup, so it must just be my weird chickens. :p
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
MaransGuy said:
Mine spill the water into the feed every chance they get, lol. :)
I made a mistake one day and let the rain hit the feed. You would've thought I gave them caviar.
 

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If your chickens like wet food, you should look into fermented feed. I've been feeding mine that for a couple years now and it's worked out great! They go through less feed, there is less waste and it has many added health benefits!
There are some threads here in the "Feeding & Watering" section or there are several threads here... http://www.backyardchickens.com/f/12/feeding-watering-your-flock

I stared with layer feed then went to an "all flock" type feed because I have roosters, turkeys and guineas too, so it was a better choice. Some people use all grains and others use a mix. It all works and is all good. Use what you think is best for your flock. It is worth the little effort it takes to get it going and feeding slightly differently.
Good Luck!
 

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When I had the few get "lost" it was when I let them out early In the morning for the full day. Now that they get let out in the evening I haven't had a problem at all.
 
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