new to chickens

We just got our coop and are adding a run to it. Our chicks are still in the house in cage. We are new to this and questions might sound stupid, sorry. Just learning. I want to know if I let them roam my fenced in yard, will they go to coop to lay eggs or will it be like Easter bunny came and need to hunt? Also, read some people have the wings clipped. Is that recommended? I have seen chickens in the street. Got out of yard I guess. Do they go back home? I will make sure my chicks dont get out but just curios.

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Free Ranging & Stuff
by: Sharon

Welcome! It's always good to ask questions when learning something new.

I think you're asking about Free-Ranging your chicks, possibly the necessity of having a yard attached to the coop?

The safety of chicks and chickens is the most important thing to consider when building your coop and yard and considering Free-Ranging.

Chickens need to be safe from predators & extreme weather conditions. No shelter from high cold winds is just as dangerous as a hawk or coyote, or being stuck in the hot sun with no shade. These things can be deadly.

I don't know anything about your area or the type of fence around your yard. I do know that young chicks are easy for a hawk or other predator to haul off. My sister never saw a coyote in her fenced yard until she got chickens. Most areas have hawks and even in the middle of cities there are raccoons and opossums. I also don't know how old your chicks are, how big they will get, or what breed.

I built a chicken yard with an 8' tall fence and one of my standard sized chickens, when she was young, flew over it. As she matured and got heavier, she could no longer fly up that high. Different breeds can be more aerodynamic than others. Heavier breeds, of course, are usually less able to fly up more than 4 - 5', once grown.

One thing about open chicken yards, is that even if tall enough to keep chickens in, they will not keep quite a few predators out & chickens can be easy prey. So, clipping chickens' wings might keep them from flying to the top of or over a short fence, but it can also slow them down getting away from a predator...just depends on the predator.

If a cat can get in your yard, young chicks can be at risk of being hunted and caught. I would suggest that you keep your chicks in their coop and a covered yard until well grown. If these are small bantam breeds, I'd keep them in a covered yard always. Some chicken breeds can fly pretty well, especially some of the small breeds.

Where I live coyotes, ravens and hawks hunt all day. At night open roosting areas subject chickens to being hunted by owls, as well as raccoons, opossums, skunks and others, depending on your area.

Chickens are nearly blind at night, which is why they seek a safe place to roost near sunset. They might choose their coop or another high spot, if they have access to it. If you believe your back yard is a safe place for your chickens to free-range, but want them in the coop at night, I'd highly recommend keeping them in the coop and covered yard until they are nearly grown and then be supervised.

Chickens are creatures of habit and love a comfortable and safe coop at night with roosts. Training chickens, first to be in their coop, then their yard, then possibly out to free range, is a good way to give them good habits of being where you want them, when you want them there.

It is very likely that if you always allow chickens to free range that you will have to hunt for eggs. Some will choose the nest boxes you provide, but not all and you just never know.

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