How to Get Free-Range Chickens to Roost in the Evening


I’d like to let my hens range freely this year, but how do I get them to return to the coop each evening? Chickens Roost

After chickens have become accustomed to roosting in their coop, they will naturally return to their roosts at dusk. But if you want your free-range chickens to return to the coop whenever you want to close them in, use a bit of scratch grain or kitchen scraps to teach them to follow you to the coop as you call them. When they’ve returned to the coop, toss the treats inside as a reward, then secure the door. In no time at all, your hens will respond whenever you call them, whether it’s midday or dusk.

— Vicki Mattern, Contributing Editor 

Above: After ranging freely all day, chickens will naturally return to their roost at dusk. 

Photo Courtesy Look Graphics

Vicki Mattern is a contributing editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, book editor and freelance magazine writer. She has edited or co-authored seven books on gardening, and lives and works from her home in northwestern Montana. You can find Vicki on .

4/3/2013 11:35:45 PM

Mine roost up on a cross beam in the pole barn, they hop up on a shelf to get up there. I never have to close them up at night. In the morning they hop down & start free-ranging. How do I get away with this ? I have an outside yard dog who guards the yard & chickens. I have 3 acres that they roam around on, and they roost close to the house, I also have a yard light. But, the dog is the best protector.

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