Ok to free-range 12 week-olds?


11 Years
Oct 11, 2008
Hardwick, NW New Jersey
I've had my 9 chickens (8 pullets and a young roo) for about 7 weeks now.
They are in their coop at night, and in the 20 x 28 foot run during the daytime.
I can't wait to let them free-range on my land.......and am wondering if they are
too young, at 12 weeks of age, to do that????
They very much call the coop their own.........and put themselves to bed in there each evening.
Will they have enough 'homing instinct' to come back thru the run door and into their coop
at this age?
Thoughts or advice appreciated................


In the Brooder
10 Years
May 22, 2009
Both our sets of pullets have been out since they were 6 weeks. They went from brooder to coop, stayed locked inside for 2 days and have free ranged ever since and been shut in at night. They haven't ranged far from the coop - still can be found within a hundred feet - they went a little further and further every day but are usually nearby as this is where their waterer is too (hooked up an automatic horse waterer to a rain bucket and it's awesome!) They have always returned to the coop at late dusk by themselves. Sometimes I'm out there early so I shoo them in. They are probably more vulnerable to hawks while young, but mine have plenty of forest cover and are close to a building and seem to hang out there and run in when they feel threatened. I was comfortable wtih the risk and it's worked out well.


Where Chickens Ride Horses
12 Years
Jul 9, 2007
always changing
They'll probably start out by staying close to their run, so they should go back to their coop on their own.


In the Brooder
10 Years
Mar 8, 2009
They should be fine especially if there is a rooster among them who will send out warning signs if there is danger nearby. I agree -- mine stay close to each other and the coop. They are about 11 weeks old now, but have been free-ranging for a couple weeks now. They are loving life, too, because of the freedom.

I'm amazed at what creatures of habit chickens are. Only takes them a couple days to know where they should go at night.

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