How old to start free ranging chicks


11 Years
Jun 6, 2008
I have some 7 week old chicks in a pen and want to know if you think it is ok to free range them. I free range my hens, only in the afternoon before the sun goes down and only when I'm supervising.

Do you think at this age, I can do this with the chicks - without letting the hens out too of course? Do you think the chicks will go back in on their own when the sun goes down?
They do know how to roost and it is super cute to see them all lined up on the roost at night.

Thanks for the help!
Seems like that should be old enough. Can you throw together an 8' X 8' chicken wire enclosure so the hens can be out as well? I think it's good for everyone to see each other so they become accostumed to each other sharing the barnyad. I've built a couple of these enclosures using 2"X1" sraps about 3 or 4 feet tall. Works quite well. I throw scratch on both sides so the hens get used to "foraging" in the company of thr newbies.
The pen also comes in handy if you need to separate anyone (as in the case of recovering from an injury, etc.) I also put a thin piece of plywood over at least 1/2 the top for shade.
The hens and babies see eachother all the time anyway.
They are both in a large chainlink run with a divider between the two for now. They can see eachother and even touch if they want. They have been this way for about 3 weeks now.
I can let the babies out into the yard without letting the hens out. They have separate doors. So, I think I'll let them out tonight and then I can let the hens out the next night and so on for a while. Eventually I'll let them out at the same time and see if they all get along.
Mine have been free ranging since they were 2 1/2 weeks old. First for just short periods of time with constant supervision. More time and less supervision as they got older. Just seemed like a natural progression to me.
Why not let the hens out too, I have all ages out at the same time, as long as they are not forced to be in the same area the hens shouldnt seek out to attack the little ones. I have babies raised by broodies that have been out since just after hatching, mom protects them for a while then leaves them to be on thier own, they learn early which OTHERS it is ok to be around, and which ones to avoid.
You can try and see how it goes. I tried but I had two hens that would chase the pullets and jump on them and peck them severely. I put the bully hens in a chicken jail which is a rabbit hutch that I had used as a brooder. Eventually they settled down and now everyone gets along fine.

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