Free ranging 12 week old chicks--will they go back to coop?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by horsepowerhaven, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. horsepowerhaven

    horsepowerhaven In the Brooder

    Dec 20, 2009
    Queen Creek, Arizona
    Today is my 2nd day free ranging my 3 - 12 week old chicks. My adult hen (just one) and rooster have not bothered them at all. Yesterday went great, they stayed close to their coop and although they didn't seem to want to go into the coop at night (my 2 doxies were close by behind bars but barking up a storm), so I helped them and put them back for the night.

    Today they have been happily out in the yard, and now I can't find them anywhere! I have 3 1/2 acres, but only about 1/2 acre is my backyard, the rest is horse pasture and arena, which they really can't get to.

    Will they come back closer to the house this evening? I'm really worried about them and feeling foolish that perhaps they were not ready to free range. Any advice would be much appreciated.

    I think they must be sleeping in the shade somewhere that I have not been able to find, but I want to make sure they get enough water since it is so hot out...

    Goodness, I'll feel absolutely terrible if something happened to them. :-(
  2. chickenmom1

    chickenmom1 Songster

    Jan 29, 2010
    I would be careful free ranging them so young. I have a big yard for my 11 week olds. I don't free range yet. If you want to try next time try to let them out about an hour before dark, then they usually don't wander that far and my full hens usually put themselves to bed. Good luck, I hope they all come home.
  3. buildingmyark

    buildingmyark Songster

    May 2, 2010
    How long have the chicks lived in their coop. I tried to give mine plenty of time to live in the coop and know that was their home. My chickens like to "chill" under their coop and under the fig trees to stay cool. If mine ever go missing during the day I try not to panic until it's time to shut them in for the night. Usually when I go out to do that, there are a few laggers dragging in... Hopefully they will be waiting for you when they're ready to go to bed.
  4. Jackie B.

    Jackie B. Paris Mtn. Eggs

    May 13, 2010
    Greenville, SC
    I got 4 a week ago today so they're about 9 weeks old. They've been in the coop with attached run watching the 3 older ones free range. Completely fenced in yard. I cracked open the run door so the younger ones can get out and the older ones can't get in and everyone has done great. There's a bit of hazing but nothing major and the little ones stay close to their coop anyways. They went to bed just fine last night. It really just depends. If they didn't go back in to roost, maybe leave them in a few more days to get the hint.

  5. LizGled628

    LizGled628 Chirping

    Jun 13, 2010
    Rhode Island
    Mine are barely ten weeks old, and they free range. They come back to the yard every night. And usually when I can't find them, they are in the brush or in the shade somewhere. I wouldn't worry until it gets dark (easier said then done, I know).

    As an aside- I make sure to always go into their space when they are free ranging with some sort of treat. If I can't find them, and I call them, they usually come running, hoping to find a ripe tomato to munch on. They seriously come like dogs at the sound of my voice [​IMG]
  6. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    My nearly 11 week old chicks have been free ranging with some supervision since they were barely 3 weeks old. Though I may not be able to put my eyes on every single one while they're out, they all show up at dusk.
  7. franklinchickens

    franklinchickens Songster

    May 19, 2010
    Franklin, TN
    My 4 have been free ranging our backyard since they were 8 weeks old with no issues but we have a very small yard compared to a lot of BYC'rs. They hang around on the porch, under the trees & shrubs and under their coop in the run a lot but as soon as it is dusk, they all hop up into the coop and get on their roost or in the window ledge in the coop. I've never had to call them or even look for them. Plus we keep their food & water in the coop. We lock them up every night and they can't wait to get out in the morning - they all head down the ladder into the run and gather at the door to come out!
    I have "trained" them to come when I call "here, chickie chickie" by giving them treats whenever I do this but have never needed it at night. Good luck!
  8. horsepowerhaven

    horsepowerhaven In the Brooder

    Dec 20, 2009
    Queen Creek, Arizona
    They all just showed up!!! :) I have no idea where they were hiding out during the heat of the day, but now that evening is setting, they are out running around having a great time.

    I feel a lot better now about them free ranging during the day if I can't supervise them the whole day... Hopefully my rooster will start "taking care of them" soon the way he takes care of his other hen (used to be hens).

    When can I switch them to the same feed as the adult hens? It would be easier to put them in the coop and have them all eating the same food.

    Thanks for all the support while I was worried...
  9. buildingmyark

    buildingmyark Songster

    May 2, 2010
    YaY! So glad they came back home!
  10. snowflake

    snowflake Crowing

    Aug 21, 2009
    Belding Michigan
    you can feed them all Flock raiser and serve oyster shell on the side for the hens. The Flock Raiser is high protein, but not to high for the hen. My latest 2 sets of chicks were raised by mom so they all had to eat the same thing. worked out well.

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