At what age do you start leaving the door to the run open?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jun 7, 2009
I saw the thread "When do you let your chickens out" and thought I found what I wanted. That wasn't the case.

What I want to know is at what point in their young life can they venture out without getting lost and forgetting where their "home" is???
All my birds are too young to lay. I have 3 that are full size and 8 that are just now coming into feathers.

I tried to put all the birds in one coop together but the older ones bullied and pecked the little ones so they are separated.

I don't have a rooster yet either.

Most people here recommend keeping the chickens in the coop for a few days to about 2 weeks to teach them that the coop is home. I don't know of any problem letting them out into a secure run. You might need to put them in the coop at night, by hand, till they learn where to roost. I wouldn't let them out free ranging for a week or 2. By then they should go back into the coop at dusk by themselves. I have a completely fenced yard so I had little worry that they'd get lost. Good luck.

I don't know if this will help, but we have 1 week olds free ranging with mom. All seem to find home at night. One hen cut her ties with the brood at 3 weeks and everybody manages to find their way to the coop at dark. The youngsters stay out the latest. Dang teenagers.
I figured I would have to wait til they knew it was home but we live in the boonies and there are no fences. I think I will wait til I have chicks hatch.then they can run around with "Mom" and I will feel comfortable. Right now...I would worry ALOT!!!
I put mine in their coop for two weeks with the door closed...then on the 15th day I opened the run and they went out to investigate (took them a while though) they DID go back into bed no problems. Then after two weeks of that we opened the run door to let them free range and they went back into their coop no problems
Still are!
AND they always return to lay their eggs in the nest too
my chickens are homeless right now... that is- I dont have a real coop. I have a dog run that I hooked onto my shed so that they have way more space than they would if it were free standing. It's also reinforced for predators ect... i put them in it for two days in the brooder then locked them in the run for about 2 weeks.

then I just let them out when i was in the yard... I only had 3 then so it was easy to chase them back in if i needed to.

Now I'm up to 30 and I go outside and get ready to round them up and they are already home-

ETA- we do have chicken ladders and leanto's in there- just no solid wood coop- trying to build that!
If you have no other flock running around I'd probably keep them penned till 4months. I just put up a little 2' plastic garden fence (you can get up to 4') to keep my young japanese bantams confined near the coop last fall. They didn't go far over winter and this spring I started free ranging that flock for the first time. Now that I have some free ranging I just leave the coop door open. The younger ones tend to hide out in the coop until at least 8weeks old and then spend a month or 2 just popping in and out by the door. Around 4months old they'll actually start wandering the property. A hen with chicks will have her chicks wandering sooner but if they aren't part of a flock and have no one specific to follow all mine have waited till 4months and then started wandering with the others their own age before joining the rest of the flock in the field.
Thanks for all the good advise. Like Akane just mentioned...I have no other birds for the young ones to "look up to". So I think I will hold off for a while. Over-protective???Nawwwww!!!

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