Free Ranging at 5 Weeks?

April0617

Songster
Feb 28, 2020
188
445
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SE Wisconsin
I'm having a strong desire to let the Chickies free in our fenced in backyard for a field trip. There's a few trees and a gazebo for shelter and hiding, but the fence is only 5 feet high... Of course I'd be out here with them, but am I just asking for a frantic chicken round up and stressing us all out?
 

azygous

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Actually, chicks can free range at five weeks. Mine have been for a week already and they turned five weeks today. Chicks normally stay pretty close to cover, and if they have a run or coop they are familiar with, they will not venture far from it, returning frequently as their boldness waivers.

However, it sounds as if your chicks and you need a training session or two to condition them to come to you when you need to gather them up. This is sound practice for any flock of chickens. Here's a thread of mine from two years ago. https://www.backyardchickens.com/th...training-my-chickens-this-past-month.1230489/ It's easy to train them and you will be very glad you did.
 

April0617

Songster
Feb 28, 2020
188
445
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SE Wisconsin
Yes, they've been making field trips out in the wire crate for a few weeks now 😊 Just feeling like they'd like more room to explore, but we definitely have NOT practiced coming when called! They know I am the supplier of food, water, and outside fun but I'm sure I'd have to do some chicken chasing to get them back inside. I am checking out your chicken training thread right now!
 

Aunt Angus

Crossing the Road
Jul 16, 2018
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They can totally free range! I took mine out in their crate (but I used a rodent cage) and left the door open. In my experience, they all tend to stay together and not stray far from safety. But, yes, keep an eye. And treat training really helps. A shake of the treat jar brings mine a runnin'!
 

Perris

Still learning
Jan 28, 2018
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As everyone else said, yes you can. A broody will have them out at 2 days - but she can provide a duvet for them to warm up whenever needed, and trains them with tough love from day 1! Yours should be fully feathered by now so temp not an issue. Train them to come when called asap - it's not difficult, esp with treats. I do believe mine now also understand a point gesture; at least, most of them move in the direction I want most of the time I use it :D to get a treat of course!
 

Doc7

Songster
May 12, 2018
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I’ve been letting my hens free range as usual, which means the 4 week old chicks have an open run door for several hours each day. So far each night I still see all of them are present. I don’t think they go very far any time they leave, they slowly expand their boundaries. If you let them do it naturally I would be surprised if any got far enough to leave your yard.
 

Doc7

Songster
May 12, 2018
751
1,094
218
Central Virginia
Yes, they've been making field trips out in the wire crate for a few weeks now 😊 Just feeling like they'd like more room to explore, but we definitely have NOT practiced coming when called! They know I am the supplier of food, water, and outside fun but I'm sure I'd have to do some chicken chasing to get them back inside. I am checking out your chicken training thread right now!

Chicken chasing in free range is very frustrating.

instead for a week or two I would bringtreats and go”chuck chuck chuck” while
You walk out therE, while you toss the treats and while they eat the treats.

now, I open my front door and start yelling Chuck Chuck Chuck the whole way to thecoop (I am sure neighbors 200 yards away could hear me) . The chickens will run and literally fly 15-20 yards at a time to get to the coop at the same time I do to throw a handful of grains in it, then I lock them up.

also visitors get a kick out of watching you call in a chicken parade.
 

April0617

Songster
Feb 28, 2020
188
445
146
SE Wisconsin
I’ve been letting my hens free range as usual, which means the 4 week old chicks have an open run door for several hours each day. So far each night I still see all of them are present. I don’t think they go very far any time they leave, they slowly expand their boundaries. If you let them do it naturally I would be surprised if any got far enough to leave your yard.
Yup, they barely took 5 steps outside of the crate they've been taking their field trips in 😄 next time I'm sure they'll be more brave, though!
 

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