Free Ranging young chicks

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Harley Chick, Apr 17, 2019.

  1. Harley Chick

    Harley Chick Songster

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    We have 5 one year olds that currently free range in the afternoon once I get home from work. I have 3-6 wk old girls that have had the run of our coop/run for about 2 weeks now. Couple questions, when should I let them out to free range with the big girls?

    Second, for the first time last night they finally went into the coop on their own. It was a proud moment for this chicken mom as I'm spying on them with the binoculars from the deck, you should have heard me say with excitement to my husband "they're in"!!!!! But I digress, I have a crate in the coop for them to sleep in but at what point do I remove that and make a small roost for them? We are practicing the see but no touch method with access to the open run with the big girls. They didn't go in the crate last night but was huddled in the corner chirping quite loudly like in a panic. They also refuse to roost on the 2x4 i have in the crate instead cram themselves behind it huddled together? These little girls are proving to be quite a learning experience. :confused:
     
  2. SurferchickinSB

    SurferchickinSB Crowing

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    Unless you are out there, I think they are a bit too young right now. I would probably wait till they are around a few months old to let them free range alone with the big girls, only because a lot of things can prey on them when they are tiny, even crows.
     
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  3. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    The chicks here free range with the adults at 2 or 3 days old.
    The quicker they learn about the environment they will live in the better their survival chances.
    At six weeks they should have proper feathers and unless it is particularly cold where you are they should be fine.
     
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  4. Acre4Me

    Acre4Me Crowing

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    I'd be careful with the chicks. They don't have a momma hen guiding or protecting them, and they are easy pickings for aerial predators or even cats. Also, if they are scared and run, they may run away from the coop/run and not be able to find their way back.
     
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  5. SurferchickinSB

    SurferchickinSB Crowing

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    Yes, I agree! It would be different if they had a mommy to protect them. But without that, they are sort of on their own.
     
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  6. Shadrach

    Shadrach Roosterist

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    Predation is an issue, but it's an issue until they learn no matter what size they are.
    If you free range you'll probably lose some chicks.
    At six to eight weeks the chicks are on their own anyway here. Mum will have introduced them to the flock and no longer feeds or guards them. The only safety they have is the flock.
    I appreciate your reluctance and would not criticize for trying to keep them safe.
    Ime here it doesn't make much difference what age they are as long as they have feathers to keep warm. It takes them time to learn to follow the flock and put up with the odd pecks and grumpy adults, but they have to learn or they end up dead.
     
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  7. Chickassan

    Chickassan Wattle Fondler

    They went in the coop on their own, that is a great first step. Don't worry about the crate or that 2x4 in it, chances are they'll skip that entirely and try to push in with the flock when they're ready.
    At 6 to 8 weeks the ones here are loose with the flock, they stay close but at the same time keep in a group of their brood mates.
    Predation is a worry but young chicks are equiped with the ability to recognise danger calls and react quickly, the ones in the brooder here recognise yawns as a warning they scatter and duck.
    You may have a bit more drama seeing that your older birds aren't that old and i'm assuming you don't have an established rooster to help out. :)
     
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  8. lomine

    lomine Crowing

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    Three weeks seems young to be outside without a heat source. It's probably why they are all huddling together. Six weeks should be fine, if they are fully feathered.

    I like to let mine do what they want in their own time (unless they are pushing a few months and still haven't gone outside, then I'll physically put them outside until they get the point). I don't have a run, just a large coop and about 4 acres for the chickens to roam. I also brood all my chicks directly in the coop (with their own safe spaces). My broodies will take their chicks out at a few days old. The motherless chicks start exploring the other parts of the coop almost immediately and will start going outside at a couple months. I've found that young chicks are no threat to the older members of the flock so they don't bother with them.

    I suggest you open the run door and let the chicks decide if they want to go further. If you're out there with them they should be fine.
     

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