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Letting chicks out of coop to free range

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by txchickie, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. txchickie

    txchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Texas
    They will be 10 weeks old tomorrow (I have 12 total, 4 leghorns & 8 bantys). We currently have 16 guineas that free range 100% of the time (they roost in the trees) but they're nearly a year old and take care of themselves well. I plan on putting the chickens in the coop at night, and I am *fairly* sure I can entice them back into the coop with some scratch......but I am so scared for my babies LOL.

    Would you let them out for a few hours during the day or leave them be until they're older?

    I should add that the chickens have a fairly large run attatched to their coop (12x16ft, I believe) so it's not like they're cramped. I just was wondering.............
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    If they've been in the coop for awhile they should want to go back there in the evenings to roost.
    My chickens have been going outside during the day since they were two weeks old. Close supervision at first and less and less as they've gotten older. By the time they were 3, maybe 4 weeks old they would line up at the door to be let back into their pen in the evenings.
    When we moved them to their permanent coop I had to put them under lock down for awhile to keep them from going back to their old pen site each evening. Now they free-range all day, head into the coop at sundown and I only have to go out there in the evening to close them up for the night.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2008
  3. txchickie

    txchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Texas
    Perfect, thank you! They've been out there for nearly a month and have not left their coop/run.

    I think they will enjoy some freedom! For an hour or two anyway, haha.
     
  4. kristenm1975

    kristenm1975 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I live in WA state and have been free ranging my flock of 19 adult hens from time to time. I work 4 days of the week so on the days I'm home, I let them out usually in the afternoon, when I'm fairly certain they've laid their eggs for the day.

    I had not had much in the way of trouble with them on this routine, apart from a few silly birds that wouldn't go into the coop at night and would need to be hand-carried in to their roost. [​IMG]

    We have large hawks, eagles, and coyotes, but until this weekend, the few hours the girls were out, they seemed to be safe. Sadly, my luck changed and a hungry coyote snatched one of my favorites. At least that's what we're surmising. We saw a coyote lurking in the field, and my pretty silver-laced wyandotte was no where to be found. It's been two days now and still no sign of her, so I think its safe to say she's digesting in the coyote's belly right now.

    I have been warned by other chicken owners that this time of year is when it starts to get harder for the predators to find food and they turn to the domesticated prey running around within their reach.

    I've decided that I won't take the risk any more and just leave them in their nice big run and coop. It's too sad to lose them.
     
  5. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    kristenm1975, I'm sorry for your loss.
    Yes, free-ranging comes with risks. I depend on my roosters and our outside dog to tell me when something's not right. Still I know that eventually I will lose some to predators. That's the part of free-ranging that you have to come to terms with.
     
  6. ScoobyRoo

    ScoobyRoo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 21, 2008
    Land of OZ
    txchickie, Start off by letting them out about an hour or two before sundown. Then increase the hours as they get use to knowing they need to go back to the coop and get familiar with their surroundings.
     
  7. wohneli

    wohneli Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I let mine out all day starting at 4 weeks and they were fine. I even forgot to lure them inside some nights, but they would go anyway.
     
  8. miron28

    miron28 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    lenoir north carolina
    I just got my flock about two months ago and i am wanting to free rage but i am afraid they will not go back into the coop. they were just starting to lay when i got them! and they have been in the coop ever since it is a big coop not small at all. but i am just afraid they won't go back in the coop. should i do what Henry's chickens says?


    Henry'schickens :

    Start off by letting them out about an hour or two before sundown. Then increase the hours as they get use to knowing they need to go back to the coop and get familiar with their surroundings.​
     
  9. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

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    Quote:
    Yes, I forgot to mention that in my original post. A little more time out gradually and you may have to entice them with treats the first few days, but they get the hang of it. Chickens naturally want to go to the safest place they can find to roost at night. If they are used to their coop, then the coop is their safe place.
     
  10. txchickie

    txchickie Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 15, 2008
    Texas
    So I chickened out (haha [​IMG] ) and only let out half of them to roam. I figured at least I could use their buddies to entice the free ones back in.

    The little stinkers didn't go farther than 5 feet from the coop, but at least I was able to get them right back in at sundown with a little scratch. I think they would have gone back in on their own, but I had to stand at the door to keep the others from dashing out to be with their friends.

    Maybe I will let them all out tomorrow! [​IMG]
     

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