how old to free range...

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by seagullplayer, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. seagullplayer

    seagullplayer Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 3, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    I have never had this problem before, I let my chickens out to free range with the warmer weather this week. I have three one year old hens a rooster about six months old, and nine 8-9 week old pullets. All the older birds went back to roost at dark, but I had to hunt down the nine young birds, they where huttled together in the middle of the yard!
    I tried two evenings, I only let them out an hour or so before sunset, and both times I have to chance down the younger birds.

    How old do these birds have to be before they learn to go back to the roost?
    And they are not yet "roosting", they stay on the coop floor all the time.

    The older and younger birds are not related. The younger are from a hatchery, the older are "farm raised".
  2. saladin

    saladin Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 30, 2009
    the South
    At their age they still need each other to keep warm in the evenings/night. That is why they are on the ground in a huddle. It is not that they can't find their way back or that they can't roost; instead, it is the warmth issue. I usually let mine start to free-range at around 14 to 16 weeks.

    Whether they are from a hatchery or not should not matter unless you are talking about some type of fast growing broiler hybrid. Those birds are just idiots. saladin
  3. seagullplayer

    seagullplayer Out Of The Brooder

    Jan 3, 2008
    Southern Indiana
    Thanks for the replay, they are BO chicks. I have had chicks just a few weeks old that would follow their mother in and out of the coop without issue, everyone needs a mother!

    I just thought they would tag along behind the adult hens, but it is not happening. They are like rival gangs.

    I knew they would huddle up for warmth, I just wondered if I could eqate their roosting to their old enough to return to the coop on their own.

    I think I am going to have to move them to another box coop I have, so I can allow the adults to free range without fear of the pullets wondering off into the cold cruel world... [​IMG]
  4. bethinoklahoma

    bethinoklahoma Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 18, 2008
    Now the term free range can mean alot of things.
    They can free range in a LARGE fenced in area with or with
    out a top. From my past problems if you let your chickens
    "free range" with no fencing you WILL lose some. Its when
    not IF. That said I contain my polish in a LARGE area with
    bushes with a top. Younger birds right now are in a HUGE pen
    without a top. Then I have some that I trust just free..
    I have had some type of wild cat eat a fav hen. We have had
    a cooper hawk take some chicks. Then some just are stupid
    and get hit by the fedex truck...
    I love my chickens enough to keep them safe in a NICE pen.
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I started taking my chicks out to free range in our fenced yard at 2 1/2 weeks old, in nice weather under close supervision. By 5 weeks old they started lining up at the screened door (they were living on the screened porch at the time) at dusk to be let into their pen. As they grew I supervised less and allowed them more time outside.
    Now as adults they free range all day long on 80 acres and put themselves to bed at night. All that's left for me to do is go out and lock the coop door, after doing a head count.
    Yes, I free range and I very much love my chickens. They are my therapy. Free ranging does NOT mean that you don't care about your chickens.
  6. PandoraTaylor

    PandoraTaylor RT Poultry n Things

    Jun 29, 2009
    When I free range my chickens, I have to be outside in the yard (thanks to eagles, hawks & neighbor dogs) I pen them if I can't stay outside. I brood my young chicks until fully feathered, then they move to a wooden box in the run with a wire mesh top that has a heatlamp, if they need it. They are released from the box (pop door with a grate instead of a door) in the morning and returned at night (2 roosts about 12" high in the middle).
    This box is their introduction to the hens as well, as the hens can look through the grate & fence, when the chicks are out the hens are in the pen next to chick pen.

    I have had no issues thus far with them. They learn the box is home, then it is a simple task to move them to a coop.

    I did have a hen, desperate to get back to her old coop to lay her egg once, she paced the fence for an hour before I relented and moved her back to her old coop. That evening she was again moved to the new coop, and wasn't released outside in the pen until they had all finished laying, no issues since.

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