At what point can my chicks roam in the backyard?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DerbyChook, May 27, 2010.

  1. DerbyChook

    DerbyChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    They are about 5-weeks old now. I have them in the tractor during the day, but it is not huge. I think they might enjoy roaming around the yard when I am watching (fully fenced yard, about 4-feet high picket). Is this safe? Will I be able to catch them and get them back in the tractor when I am ready? I am a city girl, new to chicks, so I am not always sure what is ok. I would hate to injure or lose them!
  2. BloominOrchid

    BloominOrchid Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2010
    Worcester Township
    Start with a small run area, and as they feather out give them more room.
    My oldest are 8 weeks now and have free roam of our back yard. Our fence is 6 feet on both sides, but 4 ft chain in the back. they all went under the fence into my neighbors yard, fixed that...but then I got chicken math, and one of my younger chicks ( a silkie) fit thru the chain link fence...tossed oldest son over to recover.
    now when I go out to shut them in for the night, they are in the coop. [​IMG] Its been 2 weeks of free roam
    So yes your gonna be chasing them the first few days, but you & they will learn! Little steps [​IMG]
  3. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello! What I always do at first is I just open the coop/run door, and let them venture out (of course I'm watching, like you), and they're timid at first and usually hang right around the coop. Usually running around and around, but staying close....then they get braver and braver.

    I usually don't start this until they're very used to their coop and they've been in there a few weeks. Then I start letting them roam the yard. I would just be very sure they can't squeeze through the fence....

    I know you'll enjoy watching them run around in the grass. Mine would run and flap their wings with such joy! Like they were saying "Ahhhh Freedom"!

    Now, it's a good idea to do this an hour or so before dark so that, if they don't automatically head back to the coop at dusk, you can catch them easier. Chickens seem to calm down when it starts getting dark. Watch and see......


  4. gryeyes

    gryeyes Covered in Pet Hair & Feathers

    Can you put some hardware cloth (welded wire fencing) on the inside of your picket fence? Otherwise, you'll have chicks squeezing between the pickets and ranging a little too freely. You want to confine them to a fairly small area for the first few weeks, too.

    Is the tractor going to be their home once they are all feathered out? If so, confine them in it for at least a week. This helps their little brains solidify the information that the coop/tractor is their home, it's safe, and where they spend the night. So they'll go back to it by themselves at dusk.
  5. carrlr

    carrlr Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 31, 2010
    Southern Illinois
    Quote:This is exactly what I do. An hour or so before dark and for a couple days. They will get used to this routine fast and then you can expand the timeframe. Good luck.
  6. Melissa034

    Melissa034 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 17, 2010
    St. Paris
    just make sure you watch for pred. birds flying over head. My first year they got 3 3mo old
  7. sonjab314

    sonjab314 Constant State of Confusion

    May 15, 2010
    How tall is everyones fences? I was curious about doing this with my chicks when they get a little older but I have 4 ft chainlink fence. I'm afraid they will fly out. Right now they are in a run with 6 ft fence. My two older hens can fly up on roost on the top of the fence but my babies are still too small.
  8. DerbyChook

    DerbyChook Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 15, 2010
    Charlotte, NC
    Thanks all. It makes sense to wait until they have been in the tractor full time for a couple of weeks and have imprinted on it as Home. And the tip about waiting to let them out the first few times right before dark is smart too. The fence itself is pretty tight and I have only full sized breeds, so I am not too worried about the girls getting through it. Over it is another problem. It is not all that tall. Is there a problem with clipping wings? We have a few hawks around here, but other than than, I don't think they will face any other daytime preds.

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by