Do your chickens keep escaping and going to the neighbors’ garden? Here are some ways to keep chickens from leaving your yard.
As a chicken owner, I know how frustrating it can be when your feathered friends decide to wander off. Not only can it be dangerous for them to roam free, but it can also be a nuisance for your neighbors. Luckily, there are several simple steps you can take to keep your chickens from leaving your yard.
Having free-range chickens is ideal and important to our family. Not only are the fresh eggs even more nutritious because they have access to insects and plenty of forage, but it reduces their stress.
Plus, did you know chickens eat ticks? My son had Lyme disease, so eliminating ticks on our property is a huge deal!
After my chickens destroyed my flower beds and vegetable garden, I knew I needed to find some better ways to keep my chickens from leaving my yard. Keep reading to find some effective choices to consider!
Why Do You Need to Keep Chickens From Leaving Your Yard?
Well, let me tell you a story.
We have our garden situated to the right of our property. Next to our garden is our neighbor’s yard, including his tiny garden with three tomato plants and three zucchini plants.
I bet you see where this story is going.
Last year, our flock decided to bypass my amazing garden with 50 tomato plants and dozens of green bean plants. Instead, they ate all of his plants.
Why? I have no idea. Mine sure looked more appealing. Needless to say, he was angry, we gave him goodies from our garden and eggs. I still have trouble looking him in the eye.
Chickens will leave your yard and cause a ruckus. They will keep foraging and roaming, happy as clams, but they can cause destruction. That’s why you need to keep them in your yard.
Another reason is predators.
Predators love your chickens. If they are out in the open and away from protection, chickens will not outsmart predators. Honestly, they are far from the smartest animal.
Predators are a huge reason why many farmers opt to fence their property. Even with fences, you can’t always stop them, but you are at least making it a bit harder for them to access your animals.
How to Keep Chickens From Leaving Your Yard
Free-ranging chickens have such a good time exploring their world that they continue on, eating and foraging, without stopping. You have to figure out how to keep chickens from leaving your yard before you let them free-range.
1. Install a Large Chicken Run
One of the easiest ways to keep chickens from leaving your yard is to install a chicken run. A chicken run is ideal for those who live somewhere their chickens can’t free-range their flock.
Chicken runs attach to your chicken coop, giving your backyard chickens space to explore, forage, and enjoy the day without wandering away from home. Another benefit of a chicken run is that it provides extra protection from predators.
However, you need to make sure you have plenty of space for your hens. If it’s cramped, you may end up with hens bullying and fighting with each other.
2. Fencing Your Yard
When it comes to keeping free range chickens in your yard, fencing is an essential component. A sturdy and reliable fence will not only keep your chickens safe from predators but also prevent them from wandering off.
I recommend using a fence that is at least six feet tall to prevent chickens from flying over it. The fence should also be buried at least a foot underground to prevent predators from digging underneath it. Chicken wire is a popular option for fencing because it is affordable and effective. However, it is not very durable and may need to be replaced every few years.
If you want a more long-lasting option, consider using welded wire fencing. This type of fencing is more expensive than chicken wire, but it is much more durable and can last for decades. You can also use wooden fencing, but keep in mind that it may require more maintenance than wire fencing.
Regardless of the type of fence you choose, make sure to inspect it regularly for any holes or damage. Predators can easily exploit weaknesses in the fence, so it’s important to keep it in good condition.
In addition to a fence, you may want to consider putting up netting or bird wire over the top of your chicken yard to prevent any aerial predators from swooping in. This is especially important if you live in an area with a lot of hawks or other birds of prey.
3. Use a Movable Pen for Access to Fresh Greens
One of the best ways to keep your chickens from leaving your yard is to offer a movable pen for your small flock.
A chicken tractor is a movable pen with part of the coop covered for protection at night and the other part open to sunlight. Building a chicken tractor involves a bit of DIY work, but it keeps your own chickens safe while giving them access to forage.
Another idea is to use a movable electric fence. These fences have poles that easily stick into the ground; farmers use them for everything from chickens to cows. It’s a great idea if you want to give them new pastures each day to forage but also want to keep them safe.
I highly recommend the RentACoop Electric Fence for Poultry! It’s easy to use and works fantastic.
4. Providing Adequate Shelter
When it comes to keeping chickens in your yard, providing adequate shelter is essential. Chickens need a safe and comfortable place to roost and lay their eggs.
Here are some tips on how to provide the best shelter for your chickens:
- Coop Size: The size of your coop will depend on how many chickens you have. As a general rule, each chicken needs at least 2-3 square feet of indoor space. If you have a large flock, you’ll need a larger coop. Make sure the coop is tall enough for your chickens to stand up and move around comfortably.
- Nesting Boxes: Chickens need a place to lay their eggs, so make sure your coop has plenty of nesting boxes. Each box should be at least 12×12 inches and filled with clean bedding. You can use straw, shavings, or other materials that are safe for chickens.
- Roosts: Chickens like to roost at night, so make sure your coop has plenty of roosting space. Roosts should be at least 2 inches wide and placed at least 18 inches off the ground. This will help keep your chickens safe from predators.
- Ventilation: Good ventilation is important for your chickens’ health. Make sure your coop has plenty of windows and vents to allow fresh air to circulate. This will help prevent respiratory problems and keep your chickens healthy.
- Lighting: Chickens need about 14 hours of daylight to lay eggs, so make sure your coop has enough natural light or artificial light to keep them happy and healthy.
Don’t forget the entertainment! If your chickens have fun in their chicken run, they may spend time there, even when the door is open to their run. Things like chicken swings and lettuce holders are great investments for your flock.
Don’t forget dust baths! If you keep dust baths in the chicken run, they’ll be more likely to stay there because they have something they need and love right there!
5. Clip Your Chickens’ Wings
Clipping your chickens’ wings is another step to take to keep chickens from leaving your yard. My chickens flew right over the top of the chicken run and fencing.
Trimming their primary flight feathers – the long feathers at the front of the wing – only takes a few moments. It”s an easy and simple process, and you only need to clip one wing. Flipping one wing throws the hen off balance when trying to fly.
Proper wing clipping is pain-free and doesn’t lead to any serious stress. They simply lose their favorite ability to fly over the fence blocking their path to freedom.
However, keep in mind that primary feathers grow back whenever the chickens molt. You need to clip feathers once a year to prevent them from flying.
Another disadvantage to wing clipping is that it reduces the possibility that your chicken will escape a predator. If a predator climbs your fence (because no fence is truly predator-proof), then a chicken with clipped wings doesn’t have a chance to escape.
6. Install Deterrants in Areas You Don’t Want Chickens
You want to give your free ranging chickens as much space as possible, but you still have some areas they need to avoid.
What can you do?
Well, one easy option is to install a motion sensor sprinkler. I assure you that chickens will run from a sprinkler, but since you can’t keep it running all the time, a motion sensor makes the most sense.
It also might deter some potential predators!
Another idea is to use wire mesh around flower gardens and other delicate plants. That stops your chickens from thinking your new perennial herbs are a delicious food source.
Of course, there are other things that may halt your chickens in their tracks. Fake predators set up in areas you want them to avoid, citrus juices sprinkled around gardens, cinnamon, and black pepper are all things that your flock will not appreciate.
In general, strong smells are things that will deter your new chickens from places on your property.
7. Train New Chickens to Return
A common method to keep chickens from leaving your yard is to train your chickens to return. Typically, you train them to return a half hour before dark.
At first, you keep your chickens in the chicken run without any access to free ranging. Make sure you close them in the chicken coop at night and release them in the morning.
Then, let them out of the chicken coop, but be sure to round them up and put them back into the pen at night. Soon, they’ll return on their own.
Chicken owners often train their flock, and you may want to use an automatic chicken coop door over time. It helps maintain the schedule in their mind, even if you can’t get there to close or open the door for various reasons.
8. Keeping Your Chickens Fed and Watered
To keep my chickens happy and healthy, I make sure they always have access to fresh water and food.
If your chickens need water, then they’ll search for it, even if that means leaving your yard. The same goes for food! So, if you provide them with plenty of nutrients with high-quality, high-protein chicken feed and keep fresh, clean water available, you eliminate two reasons they may try to escape.
9. Maintaining a Clean and Healthy Environment
To keep my chickens from leaving my yard, I make sure to maintain a clean and healthy environment for them. This not only keeps them happy and healthy, but also helps to prevent them from wandering off in search of better living conditions.
I start by regularly cleaning their coop and run. This includes removing any old bedding, droppings, and food scraps. I replace the bedding with fresh straw or wood shavings and make sure to scrub down the surfaces with a mild detergent.
In addition to cleaning, I also make sure to provide my chickens with fresh food and water daily. I use a hanging feeder and waterer to keep the food and water clean and prevent spills.
To further promote a healthy environment, I add natural supplements to their diet, such as oyster shells for calcium and apple cider vinegar for digestion. I also make sure to provide them with plenty of space to roam and dust bathe, as this helps to keep them clean and free of parasites.
Overall, maintaining a clean and healthy environment for my chickens is essential for keeping them happy and content in my yard.
Overall, figuring out how to keep chickens from leaving your yard takes a multitude of steps. Usually, you want to make sure you have several things in line to keep your chickens in your yard and out of trouble!