How Old to Free Range????

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Paws2u, Jan 3, 2009.

  1. Paws2u

    Paws2u In the Brooder

    Nov 13, 2008
    Carrollton, GA
    My 12 red and black star chicks were hatched on October 27,2008 (almost 11 weeks old) and are housed in a coop with an outside protected yard. On warm and sunny days they look to be agonizing to get out of their yard. When would they be ready to do that and not be a meal for a hawk? Also, how long do I keep them on starter crumbles and can switch to layer mash and scratch. This is our first experience and we are loving our girls!

  2. dixiechick

    dixiechick Songster

    Check with the manufacturer on when to switch. We feed Purina...and they suggest to move to Flock Raiser at 8 weeks. Birds of any age/size are always the object of predators so there is no SAFE age for 100% certainty. But when my chicks were that age that had been free ranging for a while.
  3. Marlinchaser

    Marlinchaser Songster

    Oct 18, 2007
    If they are outside and not needing additional heat you can let them freerange, start slow so they dont range too far from home. Best to let them free for just a little bit in evening so they come back to roost, give them more time each time till you think they will return to roost.

    Keep them on starter/grower till they start to lay. You can give them a little scratch now, its not very nutritious, and they will need grit to process it.
  4. Beekissed

    Beekissed Free Ranging

    Mine were free ranging at 3 wks. ~ along with the rest of the flock~ and it only took them a few days to run when the rooster called an alarm! Cuties! But there is no guarantee that a hawk won't eat them. Do you have a good dog to guard them while they free range? Mine do, so I didn't have to worry so much.

  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    Quote:I agree. My chickens have been free-ranging since they were two weeks old. First with constant supervision and less and less supervision as they got older. Now they free-range all day. I check on them from time to time and the dogs keep an eye on them too. I have two roosters that do their part as well. I always do a head count at roost time.
    With free-ranging it's not a question of if you will lose some, but when.
  6. mizauntcathy'shenhouse

    mizauntcathy'shenhouse Songster

    Sep 18, 2008
    Huntsville, TX
    Mine began free-ranging at about 3-4 weeks. Once they were comfortable with the older hens. Depending upon the weather and how cold it is where you are(sorry, forgot to check) will also depend on whether your ready to let them out. It's usually March or April around here and plenty warm during the days. Hawks and fox will get them at any age and any size.
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

    Nov 18, 2007
    My Coop
    My birds have good size runs. My younger birds are 3 months old. Tomorrow will be their first free range with the big girls. They have been next to them with a common fence between them but tomorrow I'll open the gate to their run and I can be around to watch with lots of treats. I going to spread some treats around and hopefully they will be more interested in the treats. I switched to layer feed when I got my first egg.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009

  8. shelleyd2008

    shelleyd2008 the bird is the word

    Sep 14, 2008
    Adair Co., KY
    My hen-hatched chicks free range as soon as mama takes them out. The ones I have hatched in the bator that didn't go to a hen waited till about 8 weeks or so. I got some long cane rods to 'herd' them back into their tractors. They will usually go on their own after a few days, but mine like to wait till the very last minute! I had 2 that stayed out all night last night. I was gone and it was dark when I got home. I guess these two were too far away when it got to be bed time, and God knows where they slept at! But they were there at the tractor this morning wanting back in, when everyone else wanted out!

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