We aren’t chicken experts. Our chickens are some free-rangin’, bug-eatin’, egg layin’ ladies and lads (well, the lads don’t lay).
Our Chickens are truly Free Range
No icky, grassless, lifeless, chicken poop filled domain
Freedom. Our chickens are free.
Here’s the story and how we do it:
Several years ago we decided to get chickens.
We went to the local farm store. They have dollar Sundays. The chicks were only a dollar on Sunday.
My son picked out our 6 chickens. 6 was the magic number. They will not sell any less than 6. You can buy 99 chicks if you want, but you can not buy 5, or 4, or 3, or 2, or 1. You have to buy at least 6.
Clueless is not the word. We had no idea. We were getting chickens & needed direction. We needed guidance. We needed counsel.
There was a very friendly, helpful, experienced chicken-guy working at the farm store that day. Perfect. Please, show us the way.
So, he asked us if we wanted to keep our chickens the “city way” or the “red-neck way,”
Huh? I was trying to decide what he was talking about when DH said, “the red-neck way.”
So, here’s what he told us:
Keep the chicks in a brooder (a heated house for baby chickens) until they get their wing feathers. What a brooder is and how to raise baby chicks here.
Then move them to the coop.
Put a tree branch in the coop for them to roost on. Put some hay on the floor for them to lay eggs in.
Here is how he told us to coop-train the chickens: secure the birds in the coop. Leave them in the coop for 4 days straight.
During the 4 days provide food and water for the chickens in the coop. Every time you feed them say, “Here-chick-chick-chick.” Do not let them out.
After 4 days, open the “chicken door.” This is important. Most coops have a “man door” and a “chicken door.” One is for the person who cleans the coop and gathers the eggs. The other door is for the cute gals who lay the eggs.
Let the chickens out through the “chicken door.” This way, the chickens will know how to go back in.
Since these chickens have been living in this coop for 4 days straight, it is now “home.” Tonight, when the sun sets, these chickens will return to their “home” to roost. Every night. Every time. Like magic.
In the mornings when you open the little chicken door to let everyone out say, “Here-chick-chick-chick!” and throw a little something down for them to eat. When you take them scraps in the afternoon, say “Here-chick-chick-chick!”
Anytime you feed them say, “Here-chick-chick-chick!”
By doing this, you are training your chickens to come. Anytime you want to be charged by chickens, just say, “Here-chick-chick-chick!”
And here they come! You can impress your neighbors, your guests, or join the circus. Watching 24 chickens charge a person saying, “Here chick, chick, chick!” is quite a show.
At night you have 2 options:
Wait until sunset and close the door behind the chickens. Or,
If you want to put them in the coop a little earlier, just go to the coop and say, “Here-chick-chick-chick!” When your ladies and lads appear toss a scoop of something good to eat into the coop. They might go in. Unless you are us, and then all but 2 will go in & you will spend 45 minutes chasing the last 2 into the coop. Which is why we just wait until sunset & close the door.
We don’t have fences, wires, cages, or boundaries. Our chickens can go where ever they want. They go out in the morning and stay out all day, returning briefly to lay eggs. At sunset, they all come back to the coop and hunker-down on their roosting bars for the night. My son goes out every evening at sundown and shuts the door. Walla!
We have been keeping chickens this way for years. When we add new chickens to our flock, everyone stays in the coop for a couple of days to get the new guys acclimated to their new “home.” Then we open the door and let them all out. That night, everyone comes back home to roost. Amazing.
Understandably, sometimes circumstances require that chickens need fencing. If that is your situation, do what you need to in order to keep your chickens safe, and your neighbor’s happy.
Even with fencing, it can still be a joy to keep your own chickens. It may be a little more work but I think the enjoyment and health benefits from those fresh eggs would still be worth it.
Pros & Cons for Keeping Chickens the Redneck way Here.
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