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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do you get up the gumption to let your chickies out in a fenced back yard for the first time?! It's windy as all get out and I'm afraid they will get some good air and over the six foot fence they go! The Americaunas are good about coming to me and let me hold them but the SLW run from me all the time if I try to hold them. See the treat but don't want to get too close! Their permanent enclosure doesn't have a roof yet so I put them in the temp coop outside when I can by bringing them one at a time and reverse the process at night. They are five weeks and need to spread their wings! Advice would be greatly appreciated!
 

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I never had an issue. But I also see my chickens as livestock and not pets. I kept them penned for about 2 weeks so they knew where to come back to at night then I opened the pen and free range. I free range from about 7ish am to about 9pm-ish. Sure I lost some of my flock to predators but that's part of free ranging. Our biggest threat are Bald Eagles, they seem to prefer my ducks though. I've lost 4 ducks to the eagles so far.
 

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Mine seem to know when to come back when it gets dark I have trained mine to come to treats they kind of move as a flock so you can always keep an eye on them as long as there is bugs to eat they probably won't try to hop the fence it cuts down on food cost to! It makes for some good eggs
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
We have a chicken hawk who frequents the area as well. These are my laying hens - and that free mystery chick who you think is Andalusian. I just wonder how I will get them back inside for the night. They really hate to get up inside their temporary coop for some reason. It took a thunderstorm last week before they all finally made the journey up the ramp. I even put food in there! They would take turns peeking in, lol. If I go to the nest box and call, the Ameriaunas will come right up to me but those Wyandottes just peer in from the ramp! I was told they would be a friendly breed to keep but not so far ...
 

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When I put mine out for the first time they wouldn't go in either so I went down with a flashlight and put them in after doing so for a few nights they finally figured it out and started going in on there own just give it time and they will do it.
 

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Oh and free ranging I found once your birds know that is home and know to go inside they will do so as day turns to night and I free range mine in the evening that's when all the predators seemed to not be around and I make sure I'm home when there out.
 

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Just like any other aspect of raising chickens, preparing for it and making provisions for free range is most of the battle. I've lost only 3 birds to free range attrition in the past 10 years and before that the only time we lost any when I was growing up was when the birds were in the coop at night.

I have a dog that watches over them day and night and they have plenty of duck and cover to escape aerial preds. I choose breeds that have good survival instincts and I cull my flock for those same traits.

I start all birds on free range at 2 wks of age and integrate them with the flock at that time...that way they learn about free ranging from the older flock and are able to learn very quickly about heeding the rooster's alarm calls.

Any birds, at that point, who are lost to predators are those whose survival instincts were not up to par on free range and this is a good way to cull naturally. But I'd never free range at all without all these safety measures in place to insure that they are as safe as they can possibly be in that situation.

Another measure I take is to eliminate possible threats by taking a hard line on canine preds. We live a good mile from any other dogs in all directions and we have the only chickens in the area, so if they are making the trip to our place it's strictly for the birds. We have a zero tolerance on stray dogs. There is no animal control out in the hills, so every person has to take responsibility for the protection of their own animals.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the advice. I did let the Americaunas out briefly, as they come to me so readily. Just walked out the door and stuck close by me. After about ten minutes one started frantically pecking at the chicken wire, so I opened the door and they both just walked right in! All in all not a bad start, I guess! The girls in the coop were calling out to them if they lost sight and they would just head back and stay close.
I live in a rural community and so many people just let their dogs roam. It's infuriating. We have to leave the gate closed at the end of the driveway now to help deter those predators. Of course that means packages get left out there too. Found a package in the middle of the dirt road once. My dogs are way too interested in the chickens right now too, so we don't let them out if the chickens are out. They head to a different area of the yard.
Here are my two favorite girls on their first free range experience. I'm thinking about calling them Pixie and Dixie.

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Thanks for the advice. I did let the Americaunas out briefly, as they come to me so readily. Just walked out the door and stuck close by me. After about ten minutes one started frantically pecking at the chicken wire, so I opened the door and they both just walked right in! All in all not a bad start, I guess! The girls in the coop were calling out to them if they lost sight and they would just head back and stay close.
I live in a rural community and so many people just let their dogs roam. It's infuriating. We have to leave the gate closed at the end of the driveway now to help deter those predators. Of course that means packages get left out there too. Found a package in the middle of the dirt road once. My dogs are way too interested in the chickens right now too, so we don't let them out if the chickens are out. They head to a different area of the yard.
Here are my two favorite girls on their first free range experience. I'm thinking about calling them Pixie and Dixie.
i would say put up some fencing 6' high for when you can't be out with the chickens. even a 10'x10' area would be a help IMHO.

also take 1 dog at a time & work on trainging them.
what do i mean......?
take the 1st dog put it on a leash & walk near the chickens while they are in their coop
if the dog lunges to tries to get the chickens give em a NO!
& a little tug on the leash.this is something you will need to do every day with every dog you have.
i can take weeks or even months but it has been done many times by many people.
you may have to start 20' feet away from the chickens at 1st. then 15' then 10'. most dogs can be trained to not harm chickens but there are some that just want to kill everything thay can get thier big teath on. those are poor farm dogs & will need to be penned up 24/7 or rehomed.:( there is a bunch of info out there on training a LDG that can be help to you.

good luck
piglett
 

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Mine have always free ranged and we have had losses.

Started with 24 and down to 10. Lost them to hawks, raccoon, skunks, dogs, etc.

Once they get a certain size it's pretty smooth going. You learn the weaknesses in your coop and once they are bigger they can handle day predators.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I've been putting them out in the backyard to roam around for the time being, as long as someone is home. 6 foot fence all around. They are doing pretty well but oh, that rooster likes to give us a run when it's time to go to bed! Can't even bribe him with goodies! My Easter Eggers come running to me and the Wyandottes follow them to me, but oh that rooster!!!
 

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Mine have always free ranged and we have had losses.

Started with 24 and down to 10. Lost them to hawks, raccoon, skunks, dogs, etc.

Once they get a certain size it's pretty smooth going. You learn the weaknesses in your coop and once they are bigger they can handle day predators.
you need a dog, a good one
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
piglett said:
i would say put up some fencing 6' high for when you can't be out with the chickens. even a 10'x10' area would be a help IMHO.

also take 1 dog at a time & work on trainging them.
what do i mean......?
take the 1st dog put it on a leash & walk near the chickens while they are in their coop
if the dog lunges to tries to get the chickens give em a NO!
& a little tug on the leash.this is something you will need to do every day with every dog you have.
i can take weeks or even months but it has been done many times by many people.
you may have to start 20' feet away from the chickens at 1st. then 15' then 10'. most dogs can be trained to not harm chickens but there are some that just want to kill everything thay can get thier big teath on. those are poor farm dogs & will need to be penned up 24/7 or rehomed.:( there is a bunch of info out there on training a LDG that can be help to you.

good luck
piglett
Got two dogs - a Golden and a Golden mix, both females, and both have been exposed to the chicks since day one. First day the chicks were outside in their coop, though, they went straight for them and barked and raised a holy ruckus! Got to work on them with the chickens outside now, obviously!
 
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