Rescuing abandoned chickens.

Hi all, I would love some input on rescuing some abandoned chickens. We live out in the country and currently have only 3 Australorps. We have been planning to get 4-5 chicks come spring. Right now we just have a chicken coop and run that is more than adequate for our 3 hens but certainly not big enough to add more and there is no option for quarantine with our existing space. Our plan has been to build a bigger coop and a lot bigger run in Spring, when we get more chicks.

Yesterday, a neighbor, who lives 6 miles down the road, stopped to say “hi” and mentioned she thinks there are some abandoned chickens living under a bridge down the road. She isn’t chicken savvy and I love rescuing animals so I went with her to look. Sure enough, there are 4 hens. It is an old farm road by a small creek and forested area. They’re living in the scrub brush and tall grass next to the creek – the forest is up the hill. They’re beautiful birds. One is a Buff Orpington, two are Australorps and the 4th is, I think, a Coronation Sussex. Hubby and I took some fresh corn cobs and scratch grains over there last night and got all four of them to come close to us. The Sussex even ate out of his hand. Of course they won’t let us grab them and there is way too much open space to just walk over and pick them up.

Our thought was to go over there once a day with food and get them more used to us and then build some sort of pen to start feeding them in and then when they’re comfortable in the pen, we can close the gate and either pick them up one by one, or make something portable that we can just pick up and put in the truck. I think they’re functionally safe at the moment but I don’t know for how long. We have a LOT of coyotes out here and there are hawks and raccoons, skunks, etc. They seem very careful but we would really hate to see them killed. Plus winters in North Idaho are extremely harsh and there’s no way they would survive without assistance. We would like to bring them home to live with us. We’ll have to build some sort of coop and run to get through the winter and keep them separated from our current ladies until we can integrate them in a bigger coop/run come spring. Free range is not an option at this point due to predators and a lack of perimeter fencing on our property.

Does anyone have any suggestions about a good way to catch skittish chickens? I’m very confident these are not feral chickens. They’re very chatty and responsive to us and have obviously been well cared for. My neighbor says she’s seen them there for a couple of weeks. There are no houses anywhere nearby so we’re certain they haven’t just wandered away from home. They neighbor thinks someone dropped them off. That happens a lot out in the country but I’ve never heard of anyone dropping off chickens.

Any suggestions would be welcome! We would love to save these pretty girls!

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