How old to free range?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by itsazoo, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. itsazoo

    itsazoo In the Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2008
    Western PA
    My chicklets are 10 weeks old today. I'm wondering how old they should be before letting them free range around the farm all day unsupervised. When I let them out in the evenings (under supervision) they stay really close to or under the big pine trees & bushes near the coop (that all have branches to the ground so they're really good cover).

    Thoughts? Opinions? Thanks!
     
  2. crait

    crait Songster

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    Mine are 14 weeks old and I still have a problem with them roaming. I only let them roam after I cage up my rooster.
     
  3. quiltnchik

    quiltnchik Songster

    May 19, 2009
    Virginia
    Mine are 6-7 weeks old and I've been letting them free range, with supervision, for about 2 weeks now. Once we get moved and settled, I plan on letting them free range for a few days with supervision and then they're on their own [​IMG]
     
  4. Judy

    Judy Crowing

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    South Georgia
    There really isn't any should to it. Some on here would probably tell you they should never free range as it isn't safe. I have a few who free range and others in a large yard that is safer than free range but not safe from everything.

    If you have a roo or two, you might want to wait til the roo shows signs of being protective toward his flock.
     
  5. tackyrama

    tackyrama Songster

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    Central Minnesota USA
    I have two groups of chicks and one still in the brooder. I let mine out full time on their own at six weeks, no prob. The first day they don't venture far with some not even getting out. After that its a little farther everyday. After two weeks they were out 200 yards with the big ones. We have 20 acres with most wooded but about 5 acres open right in front of the coop so they have a choice of where to go. They liked the woods better at first but now go either. They have good instincts as to what to eat and where home is. I also have a very good rooster to call alarms if they would only listen! They are learning to heed him by watching the older hens. Good Luck
     
  6. toletiquesbysam

    toletiquesbysam Songster

    Sep 19, 2008
    Nebraska
    Mine are 8weeks old and have been free ranging for a few weeks now. I only let them out in the evenings about 7-8pm and I put them back in around 9pm. I find that they all want out and then within about 10-15minutes 1/2 of them are back inside. The other 1/2 will stay out until I go into the coop and sprinkle some treat around to get them to come in. The 1st week I had trouble getting a few of them back inside, but now they have it down and when they see me go into the coop with a treat, they all come running!!!
     
  7. cmom

    cmom Hilltop Farm

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    My Coop
    I don't think there is a rule on when to start ranging your birds. I started mine out at 2 weeks old. I put them in a tractor with one end open to a small run for them. They would run in and out of the tractor. At 4 weeks I put them in their coop with their brooder.
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  8. I only let the babies free range if their mother stays with them.

    After a few weeks the mom will eventually let them out of her site ant they will eventually wonder off unsurpervised.

    However, they have learned the ropes from mom and they know the grounds outside of the chicken barn. They know to go in at night becuase everyone else does.

    Most are roosting alone without mom by the time this all happens.

    They are some of the first out in the morning.

    I would say to use caution. A lost chick outside its run and coop at night will not have a pleasant outcome.

    hope this helps.
     
  9. itsazoo

    itsazoo In the Brooder

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    Jul 6, 2008
    Western PA
    Thanks so much for all the answers & advice!

    I'm pretty sure I'm being a bit overprotective! [​IMG]:

    These babies are my first chickens so they have no one older to learn from. I do believe I have one roo but he's the smallest chicken and at the bottom of the pecking order so I don't expect he'll be much help yet. (Altho I ordered all pullets from Ideal... I know it's not an exact science.) I also have a guinea that's the same age that has lived with the chicks since 2 days old, that I bought for the sole purpose of being an alarm. They have LOTS of cover right around the coop and the horse barn is only 50 feet or so away so I hope that would be enough that they could get under something if there were danger. My main predator concerns are #1) hawks and #2) our one cat who prides herself on killing things. I think the chicklets are about big enough that the cat will leave them be. I know that hawks will always be a danger, regardless of their size.

    They LOVE to be outside and I've been letting them out in the evenings for a few weeks. I guess it's time that I start letting them be out on their own, especially since most of the breeds I have were chosen because I planned to free range and they don't do well in captivity...
     

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