How do I free range?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DixieByrdRN, May 17, 2007.

  1. DixieByrdRN

    DixieByrdRN Out Of The Brooder

    I know this sounds like a stupid question, but how exactally do you free range? I have 15 little guys (5 1/2weeks old) and I'm scared if I turn um loose, I'll never get um back. They are still in their brooder, but I did take them out in it last weekend for some sun shine. I made the bottom of their brooder open so I can kinda use it like a chicken tractor without wheels. I was scared to just let them go. If you do free range, do you still need a coop to put them up at night? How does that work?
  2. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    At 5 1/2 weeks, they are too young to be out alone. Once they are in the coop....keep them inside the coop for about a week. No outside time. Then...let them in the run...if you have one...just about 2 hours before dark. they "should" go back inside at night. If they dont, you will have to "show" them how to go inside. How big of an area are you wanting then to free range? Is it predator safe? When you let them out in the to them...get them used to coming to you for "treats" when called. This makes it so much easier to let them run knowing they will come to you when called.
  3. DixieByrdRN

    DixieByrdRN Out Of The Brooder

    Well I have an 1 1/2 acres crossed fenced where I am putting their coop. It has electric running around the bottom so it is pretty predator safe (except for over head hawks). I know the coyotes don't come in that part, but I am not sure if other smaller critters can (like foxes). I have never seen them that close because of my dog... but I'm not sure if they though they had dinner waiting on the other side would they come through it or not... I wanted to let them run around in there during the day eventually... is that too big of a space? I have seen chickens all over the side of peoples yards and I can never figure out how they get them back home. Right now, mine run towards me in the brooder when I open it and most of them let me pick them up without running from me.
  4. justusnak

    justusnak Flock Mistress

    Well....because they come to you. I would say go ahead and let them out, maybe an hour or so before dark. they should want to go in at dusk...if not, you can catch them and place them in the coop....just untill they learn the ropes. A fox can get into a pretty small place....expecially when they know there is "dinner' on the other side. Be carefull....just watch them.
  5. missouridave

    missouridave Out Of The Brooder

    May 5, 2007
    That young I would but them in a makeshift area fenced with poultry wire and an over head tarp, say 10 by 10 ft. Then when they get to be about 16 weeks or better and have some size to them, you should be okay. But I always make sure they have cover from hawks. Mine like hiding in the cedars on the west side of the house, or under the back deck.
    Last edited: May 18, 2007
  6. kittikatti69

    kittikatti69 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 9, 2007
    NW Washington State
    My girls are about 6weeks old and I just put them out in the coop. I added a small run it surrounds two sides of the coop (which is 5'x5') and sticks out from the coop about 3ft in each direction (if that all makes any sense, lol), about 3ft high with chickenwire on sides and top. I figure that will double as a safe place for all 4 chickens to be housed if I need to leave for a weekend, etc. My coop has two doors... one to the outside and one to the run. I divided my coop down the middle with some plastic lattice when I put the babes in there cuz the hens weren't too ecstatic about the idea. So the hens (right now) have free-range access while the babes only have access to half the coop & the secure run.

    Don't count on them going back inside on their own at first. When I built the run, I figured I'd probably not need to get into it, so didn't leave any openings. Oops. The first night I had to tear the wire off and pick up BOTH chicks who decided to huddle in a corner rather than going back inside where the light & heat was. Second, third and 4th night, one of the chicks continued to stay outside. I think she's FINALLY figured it out though.

    I live in the city and "free range" to me means they are roaming loose in my huge yard (triple lot). I have a 4ft chain link fence, which many said wouldn't be high enough, but my hens have never attempted to leave, so it works for me. In any case, you definitely want some sort of secure roosting area (coop or otherwise) to protect from predators (boy are they STUPID once the lights go out... they go practically unconscious!) and also so that you'll know where to look for eggs... unless you want everyday to be Easter! LOL
  7. Critter Crazy

    Critter Crazy Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2007
    Binghamton, NY
    My babies have been free ranging since 5 weeks old. I took them out to the coop at 4 weeks. they stayed in the coop for a week, to know where home was, then I let them out. They dont go far, and they bring themselves in at night.
  8. DixieByrdRN

    DixieByrdRN Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks everybody. I am just so ready to get this chickens out of my garage. hahaha.
  9. ChrissyNC

    ChrissyNC Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 7, 2007
    Richlands, NC
    My chickies stayed in the garage up until last week. They are about 6/7 weeks old now, and finally moved into their coop. Before I moved them though, I would put them out in my back yard. I found that they tend to stay in a pretty tight group (there's 12 of them) and in about a 4 hour period, they only covered an area 30 ft x 30 ft. I used treats to get them round up and put back in the garage.

    With them so young, you probaby don't need to worry about them wandering far away.
  10. DixieByrdRN

    DixieByrdRN Out Of The Brooder

    I let 2 of my hens (a barred rock and a buff orpington) in my garden today with me while I planted some corn and they did so much better than I ever thought they would. They come to me in their brooder for treats, but seem skittish when I try to pick them up... today in the garden I couldn't GET them to leave me alone. They went where ever I was and were so nosey about what I was doing. It was GREAT! hahaha We fed them grasshoppers and they raced to get them from us. They let me pick them up very easily and they would come to me for a quick pet too. I am so glad I asked y'all about them going out now. They were so much easier than I thougt to take back... NOW next time I gues I'll try more than 2.

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