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#77569 - 07/26/08 09:42 PM Leghorns and foraging
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Two of my "adopted" hens are approximately 16 week old brown leghorns. They were referred to by their owner as "wild girls". He purchased them as chicks to appease a broody hen he had ( he doesn't have roosters) and they stayed outside at his place and roosted in the trees. I have had them for about a month. They are from what I have read, typical, skittish, flighty birds. They are not very interested in having anything to do with people and will noisily squawk and partially fly out of the enclosed outside area into the former horse stall, now chicken stall inside our barn. They are entirely enclosed versus foraging and roosting in trees. They have plenty of room. The enclosed outside space is the overhang of our barn, some 10 feet deep and 32 feet long with chicken wire and a gate as well as the large stall. They roost in the barn rafters at night. I would love to let them out to forage but I really wonder if they would go back in on their own or could be lured back in. Some of our trees quite a number of trees are 60-80 plus feet high.

I let the other 4- a Plymouth Rock rooster and 3 little bantams out for a little while 3-5 times a week, close to roosting time. They seem to go in on their own or are easily coaxed. The leghorns are very interested in getting out.

Ideas, experiences, advice?

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#77570 - 08/04/08 12:45 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
J. Henderson Offline
Coop Keeper

Registered: 08/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: New York
In our mixed flock, leghorns have been as good as any others in coming home to roost. Ours, however, did not have previous experience living only outside and roosting in trees. For our chickens, we make sure they have firmly established their roosting home (or new roosting home) and adjustment with the other members of the flock. It has usually taken no more than a week or so, but then we have had little trouble, including flighty and non-flighty birds alike, in getting them to go in to the hen house on their own. Again, I have no experience with previously wild birds.

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#77571 - 08/04/08 06:03 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
LA Chick Offline
New Egg

Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 9
Loc: California
Artana, I was given a skittish barred hen that had roosted anywhere she wanted to at her former home. After introducing her to my flock, she became the lowest ranking hen in the group. I had problems getting her to roost in the coop; she insisted on choosing various places outside until the coyotes finally found her. There is so many outcomes in these cases.
Good luck! Rochelle

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#77572 - 08/05/08 12:22 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Thank you for your input. Last night for something less than an hour I let them choose to go out with the others. They hung in close at first and then took a tour with the rooster. When the others went in, they stayed out, though close. I finally influenced their coming in with the rooster acting as a self-appointed arbitrator. It wasn't easy but it could be harder. I guess we'll see what happens.

Thanks again.

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#77573 - 08/05/08 05:18 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
D. Honour Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 07/31/06
Posts: 292
Loc: New York
When any chickens grow up in a hen house,it is home and they like to come in at dusk to roost.With some it helps to have a low watt light.If they have nothing better or were brought up on their own then trees become roosts and shelter.Leghorns are very active and make excellent foragers,picking up a large percentage of the diet outside.They are active and the exercise fits them well,they will fly and develope good muscles and actually thrive with a little feed and protection from predators.They do better outside than when in confinement. To some degree most breeds do better under these conditions. Yours with a little time will get used to the routine if you are persistent.

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#77574 - 08/05/08 05:45 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
I am sure they would prefer it outside. The challenge is one neighbor who let us say is "picky" about lots of stuff. Their dog's voicebox has been removed and they threatened to kill the other neighbor's dog when it crossed over into their yard. The leghorn's great ability to forage and fly may land him in hostile territory. I worry more about that then coyotes, bear and hawks. I have played the equivalent of shepherd specifically for that reason and haven't left any of the chickens to forage for long. The space is about an acre with corral type fencing and I couldn't build anything solid or tall enough to address the athletic ability of these leghorns. I would be happy to give them some forage time with what I have to work with- I just need them to successfully and voluntarily return to the enclosed area before inspiring any neighbor target practice.

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#77575 - 08/05/08 06:56 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
LA Chick Offline
New Egg

Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 9
Loc: California
Artana, offering some fresh eggs as a peace offering to your neighbor wouldn't sway them to your side any?
I did have success with a group of three hens that I received not to long ago, that needed several days of rounding up toward the coop, before they got comfortable doing it on their own.

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#77576 - 08/06/08 12:30 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
When I actually get eggs I will consider that. I hate to assume the reaction would be negative. I happened to be outside in the corral when the one neighbor's dog ran through it's invisible fencing and barked at the "sensitive" neighbor. The offended neighbor marched off into his house and the owner of the dog went to offer apologies and was greeted with threats of death for her dog. She was pretty devastated and gave away that dog to "save" it, but the dog was returned for not getting along with a cat at it's new place. We had one incident ourselves with them with kids not pets. Essentially their girl and my girl (then both 10 years old) convinced a babysitter to allow her to come with us to a halloween corn maize outing- a party at a family oriented place in our area. Their child didn't like it and the parents were mad at us and the babysitter for her going. I apologized and they said they accepted but haven't spoken to us since- we are talking 5 years ago. So, I get the impression they don't believe in a lot of room for errors which is the position I can be in with the history and characteristics of these leghorns. We have an acre of space between my chicken area and their yard but those athletic birds could easily cover that in no time. I will consider the egg thing but I will probably do quite a bit of praying before going over!

Would foraging and then back in work best during some afternoon hours or just before roosting?
I have been told that these birds would start eyeing the trees near roosting time.

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#77577 - 08/06/08 02:15 PM Re: Leghorns and foraging
LA Chick Offline
New Egg

Registered: 08/01/08
Posts: 9
Loc: California
My experience is that after two weeks or so, the free range birds are so use to their new roost that they instinctively go to that location at night. Birds are territorial and like us all, habitual. The two exemptions that I can think of off the top of my hat is; if there was a major calamity with a predator in or around the coop and envolving the chickens; or if a single broody not wanting to nest in the coop chooses another location outside instead.
It would be easier on you to allow them to free range before roosting time, so they go back in on their on at dusk; otherwise you will have to be chasing them in prematurely. Rochelle

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#77578 - 08/07/08 07:41 AM Re: Leghorns and foraging
Art Ana Offline
Coop Cleaner

Registered: 07/14/08
Posts: 160
Loc: Montana
Thank you Rochelle. I let them out again last night with the others and I do stick around and watch them all. They did go back in with some direction from afar on my part. I am feeling more relaxed about it and hopefully it will all work out. The other chickens seem to be the key in their motivation. I also try to have something like an ear of corn broken up and given back in the enclosure. I keep looking for corn sales in the grocery flyers!
I am going to bring some eggs to the neighbors whenever that goes into production. Thank you again.

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