Putting Your Free-Range Chickens to Bed

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Photo by Fotolia/sherjaca
Free-range chickens can have a mind of their own, so our Facebook fans offered some sage advice on how to corral these feathered friends.

Ever want to lock in your free-range chickens for the night, but they really want to stay outside and play? Maybe you need to get your rooster out of the way so you can harvest eggs, or you’d like to secure your birds before their normal “bedtime” so you can catch an evening movie?

Sure, you may be able to train chickens to come running to wherever you want them by simply giving them some treats, but we want to hear of other tricks and tactics our Facebook fans use for corralling their birds. Read some of our favorite responses, and check out these helpful tips for raising chickens in your backyard.

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Valachia Bell Mine always comes running when my daughter goes outside. They love her!

Susan Forsythe Pearson When the heat lamp goes on, they’re in the coop by dusk. They do have a mind of their own, so I just wait to close them up for the night.

The Heart of the Home is in the Kitchen My chickens come running when I call them. LOL! They are so much fun!

Melissa Ehrman Johnson I have always offered my daily scraps at dusk. They eagerly follow me for their goodies!

Sonja Kochava Willms-Jones Naturally, chickens will come in at dusk. During the long summer days we usually can get them inside by just coming from behind them and guiding them back in. Predators are a constant here on the prairie, and nightfall is a time when coyotes especially like to invade the property. A good farm dog is essential to running off critters and keeping your chickens happy and not letting them effect egg production. Good luck!

Ivrie Goldsworthy Shearin I grab my tall stick and start banging it on the deck while yelling, “Baka baka baka!” LOL, they start heading for the door of the coop.

Deanna Bivins Langus I can usually round mine up by just telling them, “Come on, let’s go!” And shooing them along with a broom or by calling “here, chick, chick!” Also, offering treats.

Carol Reynolds Johnson My chickens LOVE the oats I feed my horses. So, I make sure to “train” them randomly with a scoop of oats that I shake and call to them. It helps to always give them treats inside the coop so you can shut the door!

Marina Hoffstrom Mine always went in by themselves at dusk. Well, a bit before dusk actually. When I needed to catch one of them, it was best done in the dark. Even the rooster was easy to pick up in the dark.

Debbie Vitulli I’d like to think they are coming to see me, but it was definitely the food!

Jule L. Eberle With a heat lamp or light on they are in! Some are a little tougher to convince, but ducks are so easy!

Michelle Spurlin We “cluck” and shoo them in with a broom if the sun is still out —they’ll hang-out till that last ray of sun is gone otherwise. Love my chickens!

Paula Rodgers Horning It took my chickens about three times to get the idea. All I did was gently herd them towards the open coop door with a “chick, chick, chick” sound and the reward of a handful of scratch.

Dana Pace When I say “Hello Ladies” they come and follow me, then they get treats after they are all in the pin.

Bonita Reid Call them, or herd them with a manure fork, then reward them with a handful of cat food. They love it.

Johnny Greene Compost in the corner of the chicken lot. At 5pm put the spoils of the day there and they will follow!

Sandra Pocan Carroll I just shake the feed can. They come running in.

Tami Graham We used a cow bell and treats to train the Guineas to come in. The chickens are a bit smarter and were quick to come running at the sound of the bell. Works great when we need to lock them up before we have to go somewhere. The Guineas usually comply too, though sometimes we will have one or two that will be stubborn at times.

Joseph Munden I once devised a trap with a cardboard box a tin pan and a piece of string when the chicken started to feed she dropped the cardboard box and so the farmer rewarded me by giving me the hen! I was just a boy on haymaking crew!

Michael Kessler A good dog.

Ev Poe I train the dog to do my bidding, or train the chickens to come to tapping of the containment.

Julie Leonard CreamyCreek Farms I shake a bag of MEAL WORMS and then throw a handful into their coop and they all go in! Never easier.

Allison Howard Every time I give them scraps our treats I yell “chickens” and wave my hand on the air. They are trained too come to that, and I have no problem locking them up with this technique.

Barbara-Jeanne Clark My border collie keeps them together, and when we say “bring them in”, he does!

Sharon Skelton We used a dinner triangle to call the flock in for feed from the time they were chicks. (Pavlov’s chickens?)

Victoria Ritterbush When the flock was small I had them trained to come for treats. Now there is a pecking (and perching) order in the roosting house that defies any effort to get them to just go in like a herd, so if I’m not at home at dusk to lock them in they’re on their own until I show up with a flashlight. It’s so rare that the predators don’t even bother to check anymore.

Jimmie Earl Rhoden Jr. I have free-range grey game rooster and three game hens kept only for their eggs. I find that my birds eat and scratch all day on my two acres and my neighbors 150 acres and at dusk they come in by themselves. All I do is close the door.

Deanna Anderson My husband has these things “trained.” When the sun starts to go down, the time they like to roost anyway, he starts calling “home birds, home birds” and walking towards their coop. They know the routine and start running after him. Then he shakes the bucket of their food for added incentive and tosses a handful in the coop, they all hop in and settle down for the night, no problems.

Donna Raye Our rooster rounds up all the girls at dusk and makes sure they are on the roost, then we just have to lock the door!

Yolanda Burrill Must be nice! My Bantams do just as they wish once summer hits and they have all the food they want outside! Hope the hens don’t get like that. They seem to be much more inclined to come back to roost than the banties right now.