When my wife talked me into getting chickens at homes (and I don’t regret it at all!), I was confused as to how free-range chickens stay at their home without just wandering off. 

If something spooked them, wouldn’t they just run away? 

I researched and asked more experienced chicken farmers to come up with this article on how to keep free-range chickens from running away. 

Free-range chickens have a magneto-reception that always tells them where their home is, so they don’t want to leave. To help keep them home more effectively, though, consider fencing in part of their range, using treats to teach them where their home is, and avoiding letting anything scare the chickens. 

Let’s get into our tips to help you keep your chickens happy and safe at home. 

How To Keep Free-Range Chickens From Running Away

3 Ways To Keep Free Range Chickens From Running Away

Like dogs and cats, chickens enjoy the company of a good owner and are highly tamable. 

Chickens are also known to be domestic animals therefore harmless and can be kept. 

Unlike other pets like dogs, chickens like to be free. 

Chickens need to be fed often and healthy to be in good shape and healthy.

A person keeping free-range chickens may experience problems with their chickens disappearing or running away. 

If this occurs, they should follow the following methods on how to keep free-range chickens from running away. 

The methods include:

Fencing the chickens partially

The owner of the free-range chickens should weigh on building a stationary fence or portable fencing to keep chickens in a designated area within the property. 

Different ways of fencing will keep the free-range chickens from running away and ensure no harm comes to them. 

They include;

  • Chicken runs. These are expansions of chicken coops made at home by Poultry keepers. They enable the chickens to stretch, get out, do all the things chickens love doing and keep them safe. The runs are also portable, meaning they can be moved, thus can be moved throughout the yard irrespective of the position of the coop.
  • Electric chicken fences. These fences keep away the predators; thus, the free-range chickens will not be scared to run away. The fences are also light to carry around, and they are easy to fix; hence one can place them anywhere in the yard. Keeping the chickens comfortable and safe will enhance their growth and enable them not to run away.
  • External fences. Poultry keepers highly use this mode. This fencing mode will keep chickens from roaming away, and predators are kept out of reach from the chickens. External fences are used simultaneously with internal fences, which regulate the movement of the chickens in the designated area picked or set aside by the owner. Use treats

Use treats

Chickens are friendly and tamable, just like other pets such as cats and dogs. 

Their friendliness makes them fond of treats or such is thought. 

It is best to treat chickens based on their breeds; doing so will increase their growth.

Using treats could be helpful not only to the chickens but also to the owner. 

The owner learns the skills of patience, kindness, and effort. 

Treating chickens may help them not run away or disappear due to their training to be given special treats often by their master. 

Dogs and cats are the most petted animals and cannot resist the power of treats; thus, chickens are not the exception to this.

Moreover, treating chickens or chicks improves the master and the poultry bond, thus enabling the chickens not to run away. 

The master should hand feed the chickens when using treats to maintain a friendly rapport between him and the chickens. 

Doing so is how to keep free-range chickens from running away.

Related Reading: Can chickens eat steel-cut oats?

Avoid scaring chickens

Chickens tend to be sensitive animals, and any sudden movement from the environment makes them want to flee. 

Also, chickens tend to hide when they are scared and may not come out of their hiding places soon. 

Moreover, the master should research and know what breed of chickens they are breeding to avoid instances that could scare the specific breed or make them run away.

For example, research has noted that chickens known for their large crests tend to be flighty and can run away from their living area. 

The research further stipulates that the breed is super sensitive, and it gets startled easily because of its poor eyesight. 

Also, the master is advised not to chase their poultry because doing so makes the chickens disappear so as not to get caught.

The master should keep chickens far away or safe from predators. 

Doing so will prevent chickens from having mental trauma from their ordeal with the predator because most chickens tend to fear when attacked. 

It may take weeks or even months for a chicken to stop living in fear after encountering a predator.

Will A Lost Chicken Come Home?

will a lost chicken come home

Research stipulates that chickens do come home on their own in some instances, provided they know their home. 

Research further states that chickens have magnetoreception to the earth, and they can easily find their way back.

Chickens are similar to other animals who adapt by migrating thousands of miles away. 

They train themselves to have the same adaptation with a certain level of degree and not go far away from their surroundings. 

The chickens can develop a mind map of their area with magnet reception.

Mostly, chickens run away or disappear during the day and come back home later in the day or during the evening because they have found an excellent place to lay which is different from the coop or good food to eat.

Chickens find their way back home most of the time. 

If the chicken has not returned home after it has disappeared is either because it got captured by a predator or has been locked out of the coop by its master.

A chicken owner may train their chickens to return to their coops of homes by following some tips. 

The owner should:

  • Have food in the coop so that his chickens can associate the coop with food.
  • Not grant free food access to free-range chickens to enclose them in a designated area.
  • Check the coop every evening to ensure that all chickens are present.
  • Have a specific feeding cue for the chickens, i.e., sing, whistle, or call out to them.
  • Make a roosting place for chickens who wander outside the coop and check it at dusk to ensure the stragglers return.

Following the above tips helps keep the chickens’ tab and ensures that they don’t get lost or fail to return home to their master.

Related Reading: Can chickens eat mulberries?

How Far Will Free-Ranged Chickens Roam?

As previously stated, chickens have magnetoreception to the earth space near their home or shelter. 

Chickens do not wander very far from their shelters or homes with magnetoreception. 

Mostly, they will walk within a hundred feet to 350’ from their coops.

Chickens wander around to look for food or water. 

Others wander to search for insects to eat. They tend to roam in groups and not alone. 

The chickens that roam in groups are usually the nearby chickens or chickens of the same owner. 

Although the chickens seek food, they stay close to their coop most times.

Free-range chickens wander around in groups mostly, and they tend to find their way back to their roosters or coops, provided they did not go so far. 

However, if there is no food in the coop or near it, free-range chickens tend to wander far away in search of it and may get lost in the process.

How Long Will A Scared Chicken Hide?

Chickens and their small stature can fit almost anywhere. 

However, scared chickens tend to hide in places they feel secure. 

The safe places may include bushes, plant pots, tree branches, inside lockers, or any hidden place.

Chickens tend to hide from predators. 

There isn’t a specific timeline to tell how long the scared chicken will hide. 

The only reason the chicken may come out of their hiding place is to seek food if it is not available in the hideout.

Also, chickens might be stuck in their hiding place, thus making it difficult for them to come out. 

Chickens hiding in a place with no food and water and getting stuck tend to die of hunger and dehydration if not found.

In addition, chickens tend to acquire abnormal traits after predators have attacked them. 

It may take weeks for the chicken to get over the mental trauma, and the chicken may tend to hide in hidden places.

The owner needs to find out what causes the chickens to hide and try to find a solution to the problem. 

It is hard to state how long a scared chicken can hide and not be comfortable freely with the problem intact. 

Research precludes that a scared chicken can hide very often depending on the causation of the behavior still around.

The owners should first look in the lockers, garbage bins, bushes, tree branches, etc., if they discover that one or several of their chickens is missing. 

The chickens might just be hiding in the mentioned places.