Letting your chickens roam free makes for healthier birds, nutrient-dense eggs and potential savings on feed costs. The key to successful roaming is to keep your chickens safe and warm overnight when predators are most likely to do harm. Here are some ways to ensure your hens and roosters come home to roost.
Create a cozy coop
Ensure you’ve made your coop a cozy place where your chickens want to live. For instance, install horizontal wooden perches and nesting boxes for laying hens. One nesting box per four hens is sufficient. Additionally, make sure the temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. This will keep them warm in winter but not too warm in summer.
Keep chickens in the coop at first
At first, keep new chickens inside the coop for a week. This will give them time to adjust to the transition and gain a sense of safety and familiarity. To enable an uninterrupted adjustment, feed them regularly without letting them escape and be sure to change the soiled coop bedding immediately after the adjustment week is over.
Release them to a fenced area
At the end of the week, simply open the door and let them wander. Avoid interacting with the chickens other than feeding and cleaning as needed. At this point, they may be familiar enough with the coop to return to it instinctively.
Call and treat
To further reinforce their identification with the coop, adopt a consistent, unique call or whistle the chickens can grow to recognize. When they respond to your call, reward them with a treat of greens or chicken pellets. It may only take a week or two for the chickens to grow familiar with the call.
Make the space “spook-proof”
Chickens can sometimes get spooked from their coop and refuse to re-enter. This may happen if a predator gets in, but it can also be caused by insufficient cleaning. Before retraining them, eliminate the reason they abandoned the coop and check the cleanliness and temperature.
Finally, close and patch any gaps or holes in the floor, walls and roof where predators might enter. To further safeguard your chickens, ensure the coop door is closed every evening once they’ve been gathered. Remove any uneaten food to eliminate invitations to predators.
Wholesale Farm Equipment in Southern Ontario
Ontario Wholesale Farm Direct, you’ll find everything you need to contain and care for your poultry, including chicken wire, poultry crates, and water and feed tubs. We not only sell quality farm supplies at wholesale prices in southern Ontario, but we’ll also deliver directly to your farm. Contact us to discuss your needs and place an order.