Is there a recommended number of days chickens should be confined to a coop and run before letting them free range? My pullets (approximately 20 weeks old) have been here now for 3 weeks. The first week or so they would not come out of the coop hardly at all. Now they spend more and more time in there run. I don't plan on free ranging all the time but would like to let them out for a few hours from time to time when I am home in the evenings. I am guessing at this point they won't wander off too far and will know where their coop is. Any reason not to let them out some this evening or should I give them more time?
Thinking about letting them free range this evening
3 weeks is more than enough, and at 20 weeks old they will know where home is. When I first let my chickens out to free range, I thought they would be making long hikes far from the coop but in reality they only were at max 100 yards from the coop. I would try and let them out at 1 hour before sun set. Unless they're really outgoing they probably will only stay within >30 feet of the coop. Hey, mine didn't even leave the run when I first opened the door!
I let them out and about 20 minutes later I had to leave so instead of trusting they would find their way back I got out the treats and they followed me back in and I closed them back up. That was their first taste of freedom ever and this morning as soon as I walked outside they came a running, hoping to get out to the yard again. If I get home before dark this evening they can take off again.