at what age is it safe to start freeranging?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by purr, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. purr

    purr Songster

    Apr 30, 2008
    east freetown, ma
    My chicks are 7 weeks old and i was wondering if this is too early to open up the doors and let them out during the day.

    I did let them out the other night for about 2 hrs but I was out there with them.

    I do have hawks in the area.
  2. bangor777

    bangor777 Songster

    May 4, 2008
    my older chickens have been free ranging since 8 weeks, I started them out by stringing some chicken wire around metal stakes outside their coop, so they had a 'run' from the time they were 6 weeks old. At 8 weeks I took a section down and they gradually began exploring, getting a bit braver each day.

    I also have silkies who are only 6 weeks old now. They were in a sectioned off area of the coop inside. I took down their enclosure a week ago and they are gradually exploring, they go outside for an hour or two each day, staying very close to the coop. They all put themselves to bed each evening.

    I've had great luck with allowing the chicks to decide how far to go. All of them were locked within the coop for over a week before I let them out so they definitely know it's home.

    BTW I love freeranging! my older chickens spend the day on the front porch with us, always near us. So fun to watch and be with. They jump up and sit on our laps. They seem pretty smart as well, even crows cawing will send them running for the coop or under a bush. Good luck with yours.

    p.s. I live in maine with tons of predators, we've been very lucky. The chicks are locked in like fort knox each night, so far (knock wood) no losses from my flock of 23 chickens!

    I should add that someone is usually home. They haven't been left for more than a few hours so far. I think at this age if I were to go out for the day I would leave mine in the coop. We aren't always outside but we're in earshot. hope this helps, sorry the post is so long!
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude

    I never allow mine freerange out of a pen till they're about 12 weeks old unless they are with their broody mama. They need to be a certain size so stray cats dont see them as lunch, unless you have a guardian dog. That's just the way I do it here, but there are others who allow theirs freerange earlier. I just like mine to have a good size to them first. It's never really safe for chickens of any age to freerange, but to me, there are more benefits than risks.
  4. If you lived here I'd say 'never' we're surrounded by predators.
  5. panner123

    panner123 Songster

    Jan 15, 2007
    Garden Valley, ca
    I let a number of hens raise their chicks free range with them. The only condition is it must be 50 degrees over night. We enjoy watching the chicks chase mom or a bug and play together. They always seem to be the healthest over the winter. If the are without a hen, at least 8 weeks old, they could be free ranged during the day if the temperture is above 65 degrees.
  6. purr

    purr Songster

    Apr 30, 2008
    east freetown, ma
    Well thank you for the replys i decided to let them out but i've been watching them through the window or standing outside with them, so in a sense i guess they have their mother hen.
    They seem to be staying very close to their coop. And if they wander too far, when they look up and realize where they are , they book it for the coop as fast as they can.

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