I have had a lot of questions lately about our free ranging chickens and how we keep them safe from predators. Learning how to get your chickens to roost up at night can be a challenge, but we found an easy way to teach them to come back to the coop.
I do admit that we have lost a few birds to overhead flying predators and stray dogs. I also know that when we let them free-range we take the chance of losing some. We have also learned that the spring is our most dangerous season and we often don’t let them free-range unless we are outside for them
More than anything else we teach our birds from an early age to follow us and come when we call. Teaching your chickens to return to the coop each night is your biggest obstacle to keeping your birds safe.
Most chicks become accustomed to roosting in their coop and will naturally return to their roosts at dusk. But if you fear your free-range birds are in danger you will want to teach them early to come when you call.
The easiest way we have found is to teach our birds to eat from our hands.
When we have young stock, we stand on our back porch and call to them while throwing dry bread or crackers on the ground. Young birds learn best by watching their elders and soon learn that our voices mean snacks.
Once we have them coming when called we start walking and calling them closer to the coop. After a week or so we can stand inside the coop and call them and they all come in for a treat. Once they are all safely inside, we can close them in no matter the time of day.
Chickens are a lot like children…if taught something at an early age they remember it for a lifetime.
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