Free Range questions.

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Alpha1Farms, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. Alpha1Farms

    Alpha1Farms Hatching

    Oct 27, 2011
    I have never free ranged or started with chicks. I have a dozen old hens left that will come home if I let them out... But I got some store bought chicks. They are 4 weeks tomorrow. When will I be able to start thinking about free ranging them? I recently fenced 10 acres and their coop will have wheels to move around. Also, I want to free range all my future hens. I know the bio-security benefits of have a rooster but never needed one. Would it be a good idea to get one to range with the hens? I am in the Arizona desert. Predators include snakes and borrowing rodents that the fence won't keep out.
  2. galanie

    galanie Treat Dispenser No More

    Aug 20, 2010
    Wait until they are around the same size as the others before letting them out with them. Maybe you could make a separate pen where they could visit and socialize but not fight. That will help a lot for when they do get turned out together. But for now, your older girls will probably hurt them.
  3. SueBaby

    SueBaby Songster

    Feb 14, 2011
    Oceanside, CA
    When my chicks were little (4-10 weeks) we put them out on the grass in covered pens. I was glad they were safe when I saw a neighborhood cat drooling over them. As time went by the cat spent more and more time in my yard (surprise!). When I started to let them out to free range around 10 weeks I would make sure someone was out there with them the whole time. We watched the cat's reaction to them very closely. At first he would crouch and get as close as he could and we would have to shoo him away. By the time they were about 12-14 weeks old they were big enough that the cat actually became afraid of the chickens! That's when I finally felt like they were the right age to be relatively safe from most day time predators. I know that something could still happen, but I think that they are so big now (22+ weeks) that they have a pretty good chance during the day. They are very securely locked up at night, though.
  4. SteveBaz

    SteveBaz Songster

    Aug 6, 2011
    Pacific North West
    Hi [​IMG] to the BYC

    Not much to say there except 4 weeks is 4 weeks. Mine really did not roam far at first I mean the coop was in site but that may be in a couple of weeks and they will fill out and feather in better. I see no problem to free ranging at first with you around to see where thy go and what they are up to. As they become older and you become more comfortable in letting them go further and then out of range thats up to you. I would get a treat can and shake it so they come to it for treats and that will encourage them to come home, might be a good thing to work on with the kids. Good luck it will work out
  5. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    [​IMG] If they are too much younger and smaller than your other birds there may be problems of the older birds picking on the younger one and even hurting the.
  6. MontanaHippyChic

    MontanaHippyChic Hatching

    Jun 8, 2010
    We've not had problems adding new chicks to our existing hens free ranging. They seem to have enough space that there is room for everyone. The younger ones seem to head to the coop earlier to get their 'spot' before the older ones come in. We have the bottom of a nesting box row that is covered so smaller ones can run under there and the bigger ones can't get in. Or, we find the smaller ones can fly better so they go up into the rafters too.

    I start out by putting them in a small fenced area that is right near, but separated from my other hens. I take them out there every day starting at about 4-5 weeks. Let them run around and the other hens (and turkeys) see them and just hang out together, but not integrated. When they all seem like they are ignoring each other pretty well, I'll then one day take them out, but leave the fence open between. Usually after that, they just integrate and no problems. I always put out a second food/water location away from the main for the smaller/younger ones just in case. I have two coops also so I can use the smaller one to divide up the 'herd' if necessary, though I now have setters in that smaller coop and the bantams I had in the small coop just head for the rafters of the big coop.

    Mine have about an acre of range with lots of trees, tall grass, 'hay' piles, etc. so plenty of spaces to hide and lots of stuff to keep them all busy. I also don't have any really old and established hens right now as we started over this spring with new hens, so of course YMMV with different hens.
  7. Alpha1Farms

    Alpha1Farms Hatching

    Oct 27, 2011
    Quote:Yeah, the reason I went and got chicks is because the older hens are headed to freezer. They were adults when I got them and now are just plain old. Out of 12 hens I am only getting 4 eggs on a good day. So, I bought the chicks as replacements. I never took the time to cull because I just always figured that I would replace them all at the same time. So there won't be much socializing... besides those girls don't really free range... I want to with the future flocks.

    Thanks everyone for the responses. I have decided to make a small run that I can let them get used to the idea of being out.... and waiting until they are 10+ weeks to really let them roam free. I bought extra chicks... expecting to go through a quick but potentially heart-breaking learning curve.

    But does anyone have advice about whether or not I should get a cockerel? or more than one? I have 16 chicks now and I don't think any are roos. I know that they are beneficial in warning the girls about potential dangers on the range... but I have no plan to breed.
  8. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I start opening the door to the brooder house at about 5 or 6 weeks. They slowly venture out and run back in for a while. I usually put up a temporary fence so they don't venture far. Sometimes I run the pen as far as the hen's pens but the hens pay them little attention. If I don't pen, occasionally a little one won't find it's way back and ends up IN the hen's pen.
  9. Fierlin1182

    Fierlin1182 powered-flight

    Aug 26, 2011
    I've kept a lot of hens (no roos - I'm in the middle of the city so laws don't allow it!) and I don't think it's absolutely necessary to have a roo in the flock. Mine get on fine without one, and the neighbours have even more hens than we do.
    As for free ranging, they've had the entire garden to themselves ever since they were old enough to sleep outside in the coop. I would be a bit worried about your predators though, but I don't know much about those and how to manage them.
    They especially love the yucky weeds that grow every winter. It's like a jungle out there, chicken heaven [​IMG]

    Good luck! [​IMG] (And [​IMG] too!)
  10. johnsons-r-us

    johnsons-r-us Chirping

    Jul 18, 2011
    Eudora, Kansas
    We let ours free range early on. We kept some chicken fencing up connected to the coop for the first week or so.......then took it down and just let them out in the AM, they put themselves to bed at dusk. We close the pop door. It was so much easier than I could have imagined! Having chickens are easier than having a dog!

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