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what to do with "free-spirited" chickens

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I've had my chickens in electro netting all summer, and I'm parking them for the winter right outside the back door to make winter care easier on us all. They've been in position for a week. I will be taking out the electro netting out in the next week or so and putting up a welded wire perimeter fence (scavenged from further out on the property) for the winter. There's somewhat of a predator risk, but I'm gonna see what happens.

Anyway, over the last month, a select few individuals have been hopping the fence each day and going off to do whatever they please. At first it was just Steve (the chicken), and she didn't cause much havoc, but now there's a daily crew of 5 that hop out each morning, and 4 of them go back in at night. One of them sleeps alone perched on a compost bin further out back and hasn't died yet. We've put that one back in multiple times, and she hops right back out.

So now that there are 5 of them every day, they've started to make a mess. They shit everywhere, scratch up things I don't want them to, uncover mulched garden beds, and eat out winter veggies. I'm looking for suggestions on how to handle these rogues!
 
Tyler Ludens
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Posts: 8989
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Try trimming all the flight feathers off one side. Don't do both wings - you want the chicken to be lopsided so she can't fly.

 
Will Holland
Posts: 300
Location: CT zone 5b
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I had thought about that, but had a few reservations. First off, I've never done it before but that's not really a good reason to not do something.

Second, and probably more importantly, they have a fly-in coop, and I'd hate for them to not be able to get in the coop.

They're also quite swift and hard to catch. That in itself is a positive trait.

It's possible that we have too many boys and the girls are just looking for a break. We currently have 3 boys and something like 20-21 hens. I'd consider dispatching one of my beloved roos, but I want to keep at least 2. The boys don't fight at all, and they've been together since day 1.

Finally, my wife seems to think that there's a direct connection between how empty the feeders are and how many birds jump out. On the positive side, those 5 birds aren't eating any grain and are feeding themselves.
 
Tracy Kuykendall
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Got nothing to do with rooster/hen ratio, chickens getting out roaming is what chickens do, if want them to stay in a pen fully enclose it or trim the wings. Training chickens is a lesson in futility, their memory is about as long as their nose.
 
Tina Hillel
Posts: 7
Location: Virginia
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We ended up putting up six foot high light bird netting to keep in the "jumpers". Even then had to clip a wing on a couple who were climbing the fence! Just a few escapees can destroy a garden or blueberry bushes.
 
Ken W Wilson
Posts: 340
Location: Nevada, Mo 64772
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My speckled Sussex were jumping a 4' fence with no difficulty at all. Their wings were clipped but they are only 6-8 months old. When they're fully mature, I don't think they'll be able to clear 4'. I added 2 feet to the top of the fence.
 
Chris Sargent
Posts: 45
Location: SE Alaska
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My chickens can clear a 6 ft fence no problem. I've found that a soft mesh or bird netting loosely strung along the top helps. They try to fly to the top of the fence and perch before hoping down the other side. Something that sags under their weight or is too thin/flimsy for them to perch on seems to deter them.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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chicken soup

Other than that or feather trimming I'd say you need to put a net over the top or they'll keep doing it.
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1261
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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Will Holland wrote:I had thought about that, but had a few reservations. First off, I've never done it before but that's not really a good reason to not do something.

Second, and probably more importantly, they have a fly-in coop, and I'd hate for them to not be able to get in the coop.

They're also quite swift and hard to catch. That in itself is a positive trait.

It's possible that we have too many boys and the girls are just looking for a break. We currently have 3 boys and something like 20-21 hens. I'd consider dispatching one of my beloved roos, but I want to keep at least 2. The boys don't fight at all, and they've been together since day 1.

Finally, my wife seems to think that there's a direct connection between how empty the feeders are and how many birds jump out. On the positive side, those 5 birds aren't eating any grain and are feeding themselves.


If you're having issues catching them go pick up a fishing net. It's what I use to catch mine.
 
Tina Lee
Posts: 16
Location: Garrison, Montana
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Saw my most "free spirited" chicken fly up into a 20' tree the other day. The dogs were after it of course, but still that was a pretty good flight for a hen. She came down pretty fast when she saw me penning the dogs and she was OK.
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