Ok to free-range 12 week-olds?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by gabby3535, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. gabby3535

    gabby3535 Songster

    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................
  2. Chicklette

    Chicklette In the Brooder

    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.
  3. ibpboo

    ibpboo Where Chickens Ride Horses

    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.
  4. iheartchkns

    iheartchkns In the Brooder

    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.
  5. chicks4kids

    chicks4kids Songster

    Apr 22, 2009
    Northern Indiana
    Our barred rocks free range as well. Ours are 6 weeks now and have been free ranging for a week (in Indiana). I would say yours are good to go!!

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