Getting back into the coop

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by WestKnollAmy, Jul 2, 2008.

  1. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    I know this question has been asked a million times on here and I have researched it a million times but there are sooooo many answers to go through. I hope I can get something a little more personalized for my young flock.
    We have about 67 chicks that are 6 weeks old now. They stay in a converted horse stall all the time but can see out because one wall is hardwire cloth to the outdoors and another wall is chicken wire to the older Cochins that free range during the day but are closed up at night. We have 4 chicks the same age as the others running with the 7 adult Cochins since they hatched or raised them.

    I do not plan to enclose any chicken yards as our property is totally fenced in. The Cochins stay close to the barn most of the time or come up to the house which is 250 ft away. We have let the grass grow up around the edge of our farm for wild bird forage and the deer. In front of the barn about an acre is very cleared away with short grass.

    DH wants me to let the 6 week old chicks out to free range a few hours each evening but at this age I am afraid they would not come back even with the light I turn on in the coop for them.
    A Silkie got lose the other night from DD and I thought I never would get that bugger.

    What would be the best age to let 67 chicks out and hope I can get them back up?
  2. wynedot55

    wynedot55 Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    being locked up in there for 6 weeks.they should know that that is their they should go back in there to id let them out 2 hrs before that they wouldnt go to far away from their stall.
  3. keljonma

    keljonma Songster

    Feb 12, 2007
    8A East Texas
    The first few times they are let outside they probably won't go too far... unless they follow you from the barn. As they get used to being outdoors the will feel more comfortable and expand their foraging area.

    We have 2 fenced acres that our flock has access to. A note about the tall grass - be aware that you might have some small predators hiding there waiting for lunch to walk by..... we've found rats, snakes and a feral cat in our back pasture.

    Good luck.
  4. HenHaven

    HenHaven Songster

    Mar 3, 2007
    Coarsegold, CA
    Before you turn them all loose, I would start feeding them maybe twice a day for a few days. I would also start shaking a can of feed or scratch, so they start associating that noise with food.

    My plan would then be, feed them in the morning, and then let them out in late afternoon. Let them stay hungry and get what they can get by foraging, then when it's time to get them gathered, shake the can and have the food ready. Is there a way to let them out to explore in the barn for your first adventure, so they are not so hard to round up if things go bad, LOL?

    I've done this on a small scale--less that 10 birds. With 60+, I would want a game plan, too!
  5. WestKnollAmy

    WestKnollAmy The Crazy Chicken Lady

    Apr 22, 2008
    upstate SC
    Thanks guys!
    I do feed them first thing in the morning and right before dark when I turn on their night light. I go down to the barn several times a day to check for eggs (from the adult Cochins) and make sure all waterers are still in good shape so I give treats at least once a day in different forms; birdseed, breadcrumbs, scrambled eggs etc.

    Yes, with this many chicks I am afraid I will come up missing about 15 and not know it! There are 11 different breeds in that bunch so hopefully I can figure it out. Sounds like a lot of work but I know they must be bored even with all the toys I have in there. They are getting so big so fast!

    I figure if the other 4 chicks have done well maybe these will be good to go back up at night when I pull out the feed bucket! I was just afraid they may be too young yet.

    I'm a nervous wreck!

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