How big should hens be before you let them roam?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Hoogan, Apr 10, 2012.

  1. Hoogan

    Hoogan New Egg

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    Apr 8, 2012
    My hens are ten weeks old, they are standard size so they have grown a lot!

    My question is that my neighbor and I have cats, one of them is smaller but pretty fiesty...I was going to wait until they were 13 weeks old to let them out, but they're getting stir crazy and I'm having to move their movable coop every day.

    What's a good rule of thumb of maturity age/size to let them out during the day? I'm not home a lot during the day because I work so I'd hate for something to happen to them while I'm gone.

    Thanks for the help!
     
  2. chicmom

    chicmom Dances with Chickens

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    Feb 24, 2009
    Strasburg Ohio
    Hello!

    I let my flock free range when I'm not home, but truly, anything can happen when you're not there, even if your hens are fully grown.

    Now, for young hens (called pullets), I don't let them outside to free range unless I'm watching. The reason is, just as you suspect, a neighbor's cat, or your own cat, or any predator, could have an easy meal with a younger chicken.

    I usually keep my younger chickens in the coop and run when I'm not home, and then, if it's a really nice day, I'll let them out about an hour before dark, and let them run around, or I will put them in a portable fence that I move around. I usually have a sheet draped over this fence, so now hawks will see them from above and swoop down and grab one.

    Once they get close to laying age, which is about 17-20 weeks old, they look like a full sized chicken usually. So that's when I let them out after I get home at 5:00pm, and they free range until dark. When it starts getting dark, they automatically head back to the hen house.
     
  3. Hoogan

    Hoogan New Egg

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    Apr 8, 2012
    portable fencing and a sheet? That's a GREAT idea!

    Thanks so much!
     

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