how to 'train' chicks on free-ranging

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by OHChick, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. OHChick

    OHChick Songster

    May 8, 2007
    my chicks are 9 weeks old now. we'd like to start letting them outside some. we tried it on Saturday, but only 2 (of 26) would come out of the stall and then they wouldn't go toward the outside, they just headed toward the big stacks of hay we have in the barn.

    i am sure this is a stupid question but how do you 'teach' them where to go? and how will they know to come back? DH and I are afraid that once we let them out, we'll never get them all put back again.

    also, at what age should i clip their wings? our barn is right down at the road and i don't want them flying over the fence and getting hit. do they bleed when u clip their wings? DH said they do, but I wasn't sure if he's being honest or just trying to stress me out.

    thanks in advance.
  2. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    We didn't let ours out until about 12 weeks. They were more confident and willing to explore then. We only let them out for an hour or twwo each evening, when we are there to supervise. Ours 'herd' very well, since we have to keep them away from the neighbors houses.We lovk them back up every evening after throwing a treat of some kind into the coop. Veggie scraps, old bread or leftoever noodles if we have any, scratch if we don't.
    I'd suggest doing supervised ranging until they get a little older, and getting them in the habit of coming home for a treat each evening.
    Ours also run into the coop if they feel threatened, like when planes fly over (They don't run from the hawk, though. He's too high up. Another reason we supervise them).
    We didn't clip any wings until ours could fly about 4 feet off the ground. By then there was no blood when we clipped them. They will bleed if you clip when they are too new, though (like just after they molt).
  3. hypnofrogstevie

    hypnofrogstevie chick magnet

    Jul 12, 2007
    Newton NJ
    Do you have any adult chickens? What I did was take out my moms barred rocks and my baby silkies and let the barred rocks show the silkies what to do. They got used to it quicker.
  4. Gracefulspice

    Gracefulspice Songster

    Mar 25, 2007
    I started my new girls at 9 weeks. about 1 hour before dusk I opened the door to the coop and took a seat. The first night the furthest they went was the step outside the door. Ran back in quite a few times. Got better everynight. I just keep increasing the time every day or so and they keep exploring further. They have always gone back to the coop once it was dark enough.
    Once they get the hang of this, and are a little older and bigger, I will let them out during the day as long as I'm home. If I need to get them in the coop because I need to leave I will have to slowly train them with scratch. It was rather easy with my older 2.
    As for wing clipping, just cut the flight feathers. Here's a link with a diagram and instructions how.
    Or you could always take one bird to you vet to show you how. It's eaiser with 2 people.
  5. OHChick

    OHChick Songster

    May 8, 2007
    Quote:Nope, no adults. Just the 26 babies. Maybe I'll open their stall door tonight when I'm down there and just hope that I can get them all put back up should they decide to 'explore'. I am just afraid they'll go up 40' on top of the hay and I'll never get them back. [​IMG]
  6. EboyDog

    EboyDog In the Brooder

    Jul 15, 2007
    Hallsville MO
    Do ya need to train them?? [​IMG]

    I kept mine in cages from March (very small chicks) until rougly about the beginning of May and they took to the coop like, well chickens and after keeping them penned in for about three weeks I let them run free in the late afternoons and slowly increased their time earlier into the day.

    They have had no issues and come sunset they find their way back to the coop with no problems at all short of a couple who at first preferred to roost in the apples trees which a properly brief discharged spray from the garden hose took care of that issue!
  7. TransplantedTexan

    TransplantedTexan Songster

    Jul 9, 2007
    Bear Creek, Wi
    Mine came out the first time I let them out. It was in the evenings, and they seemed to just love chasing mesquitoes and other flying insects in the evening. They still do. They are out all day ranging, but when evening hits and the mesquitoes show, they really perk up and go crazy.
    On the issue of training, my wife is trying to " train" them not to eat her lanndscaping. She cannot plant one flower/shrub/or ground cover with out them devouring it.
    Particularly Hostas, they eat those right down to the ground.
    Poor lady chases them away from her plants constantly. I keep telling her I don't think you can train a chicken not to eat greens.
  8. wegotchickens

    wegotchickens DownSouth D'Uccles & Silkies

    Jul 5, 2007
    Sevier County, TN
    Ours haven't messed with landscaping, but they hop in my garden beds. So far no real damage to anything except some carrots that went to seed. I just shoo them when I think they may be heading for something I don't want to get walked on.

    Another friend with chickens said he had to put some chicken wire around plants he didn't want to get munched. Once they got established, though, he could take the wire down. His chickens just ate the young plants.
  9. JFL1950

    JFL1950 In the Brooder

    May 31, 2007
    Jacksonville, Texas
    we have 3 that are 5 weeks old we put them outside Sunday and they did fine running around getting bugs out of the grass and going all around but staying within 100 yards of the chicken tractor we build them. No problems.
    We added 9 Delawares to the three and they started picking on them so we split them up and put the Delawares in a open chichen run.
    We also had to separate 2 buff cochins from the three and moved them to the open pen as well.
    I guess the chicken tractor was too small for 14 chickens?
  10. jkm

    jkm Songster

    Mar 28, 2007
    Forest Grove
    I let mine out in the evening at 6 weeks, now they are out for 1 1/2 in the am , and two hours at night, they jump back in their coop at sunset, somenights I have to use a little seed to get them in . They are around seven- eight weeks old.
    for plants, I have one hyrdranges they want to eat the roots, so i put a picec of mesh wire over the roots and they can't get it.
    have ignored the hostas, but love any thing damp from watering!
    its funny to watch them upside down, butt in the air under the day lilies cleaning out the slugs.

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