how do I introduce free range to my 8 wk olds?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by tenmaples, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. tenmaples

    tenmaples New Egg

    Jul 13, 2011
    I am a newbie with free range. When and how do I introduce my chicks to free range? They are in a very large pen, but I want them to be outside during the day and in at night so what do I do? They are very skiddish and don't like handling, though I have handled them from birth. thanks Tenmaples:)
  2. M@M@2four

    [email protected]@2four Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 12, 2008
    I always do a slow releasal--I take a large dog crate and set the young chicks in the dog crate in the older one's area. Of course place food and water in the crate for the chicks. Leave them in their cage for about a week, so the older ones get used to seeing and hearing them. In a week, I then let the young ones out all the while staying there to supervise. Usually this does the trick and they integrate quickly. [​IMG] Good luck!
  3. Martha80

    Martha80 Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 20, 2011
    Randolph Co. Indiana
    Open the door and let them out! (that is the easy part!) Getting them to come back to the run is a little trickier at first. I would use a broom to get them out from underneath the bushes they would hide in, and then following them, use the broom kinda like a canoe paddle to direct them towards the run, while DH and DD were in front/sides acting as human barriers to keep them from running the wrong way or overshooting the door to the run. For the last 2 weeks they have put themselves back in the run around 8ish and into the coop at 9ish. It was kinda fun being a chicken herder!
  4. swampcat

    swampcat Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 18, 2011
    Brooklyn, CT
    What I did was bring them out but have a fenced in area where I can easily corner them to get them back in. Do that for a while and then one day just let them go! Make sure you have lots of treats and maybe a broom or large stick like another poster said but to shoo them out of places you don't want them to go. Be very careful with predators, though!!
  5. lambchicks

    lambchicks Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 21, 2009
    North Carolina
    If they go into the house to roost at night on their own there shouldn't be a problem.
  6. moetrout

    moetrout Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 5, 2010
    Milan, MI
    I just let mine go too. I would have their favorite treat ready.
  7. teach1rusl

    teach1rusl Love My Chickens

    Two things - get them use to a treat jar (fill a mason/mayo jar with scratch or raisins or something yummy). Shake the jar, call "chick-chick (or whatever - could be sassafras as long as that's the call you always use), and sprinkle a bit of the treat about. It won't take very many days if you're consistant, for them to learn to follow you or come running when you shake that jar and call for them. This is a geat way to teach your chickens to come when you need them to - especially when getting them to go back inside the run.
    Also - kind of what swampcat said. Before you open the run door, partition off an area (just with chicken wire or something and a few metal posts or whatever's on hand) that limits how far they can actually go - even if it's just and area the size of a bedroom or whatever. Most likely they won't even venture far at all anyhow for the first several days. And they'll probably run back inside their pen many times, which is good, because you want them considering that their "safe zone." As they become bolder, eventually remove the temporary fence.
    Personally, I think teaching them to come to you (the call/treat jar) is the most important. My girls can be completely out of sight, around different parts of the property, and when I shake that jar loudly and call for them, they come running from everywhere - seem to appear out of nowwhere [​IMG]
  8. BoltonChicken

    BoltonChicken Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2011
    Bolton, Mississippi
    Here is a good idea I found on this forum on this subject. If your chicks are roosting at night, let them out of their run around sunset. I sit in a lawn chair and watch mine scratch around and eat grass until it starts to get dark. I then kind of herd them back into their run and they walk up the ladder into their coop. I have done this five times now (they are 10 weeks old) and have had no problems. Still haven't decided when I will let them out all day yet. Probably not until they get full grown.
  9. Buff-Island-Australorp

    Buff-Island-Australorp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 1, 2011
    Bixby, OK
    Your chickens will make things fairly easy for you. When they're young, they will be curious, step out of the run and in to the "real world", but won't stray too far from the access door. Mine would all get brave, run outside, scratch around, then run back inside....then repeat the cycle. That told me that they absolutely knew where "home" was. As each week went by, they became more brave, and stayed out longer, exploring new areas.
    I have actually found that I don't have a set routine with letting them out, or keeping them confined. I work during the week, and my wife doesn't let them out to free range. When I come home, I try and wait until around 7:30pm to let them out, because they put themselves up by 8:30pm. On the weekends though, I usually let them out in the early mornings, and they usually stay out all day, under my dogs doghouse where it's complete shade during the searing heat.

    To sum it up, your chickens won't run away forever like a dog or cat would. You won't need to post "lost chicken" signs anywhere.

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