pasturing questions for red ranger chicks


In the Brooder
May 14, 2015
Hello! I'm wondering a few things. We're new to this and have 53 red ranger chicks currently 8 days old.

1) when can I put them outdoors for part of the day, or all of it? We've got a moveable wire covered enclosure.

2) when will the birds be interested in going indoors by themselves at night? Or do i have to train them? If so, how?

3) what time do you put your birds inside? Dusk or before? (I've noticed as tiny chicks they all seem to settle down at 7:30- can i use this natural tendency to my advantage if timed properly?)

4) how long before putting your birds to bed do you feed them? (Maybe feed at 6, then in the coop by 7:30- or whatever the particulars, is an hour or hour and a half reasonable? Maybe this is ridiculous- can you tell i'm a mother of small children? I just don't know!)

Thanks in advance for all the help!
Don't forget the jammies, and bedtime story. And don't forget to brush their teeth! Sorry. I just couldn't resist!

On a warm day, you can put them out for a while. They'll let you know when they get cold.

Does your management include a tractor during the day, and a coop at night? Or a run? I have some 2 week old and some 5.5 week old chicks, and am in the process of training both groups to go to bed at night. I'm finding a butterfly net and a cat carrier to be indispensable for herding chickens. If the older chicks haven't gone into their loft by dusk, I go out and gently encourage them to hop from the perch in the run ithrough the doorway to their loft where the "sleeping perches" are. Several of them did so tonight. The rest jumped down and started running around. So, I used the butterfly net to herd them into the cat carrier. This is super easy, because they've learned to associate the cat carrier as being a safe sanctuary. Then, it's just a matter of closing the door, lifting the cat carrier up to the pop door, and opening the cat carrier door.

In the case of your birds, I'd with-hold food from them for a couple of hours before you want them to go in. Then, it's just a matter of showing them that you have food, and putting the food where you want them to go. Be sure that if you give them food, that you also give them water.

You can use treats to accomplish the same thing. Meal worms, chopped grapes or raisins. Always call them when you give treats. Chickens are very capable of learning to come when called. They are such creatures of habit! Just be sure they have access to grit if you give them treats. Grit in and of it-self is a treat!
I suggest that it really depends on the weather where you live. It has been cold and rainy here. I'd never put 8 day old chicks of any kind outside for any period of time, but it may be different where you live.
Thank you for the tips on getting them in at eveningtime!

Currently, they're very comfortable in my living room with a high heat lamp over their wading pool. The weather here has been too cool for them to stay outdoors all day, but they could likely live in the coop with a heat lamp very well, and my plan was to move them outdoors all day once they seemed to be able to keep themselves comfortable. But I wondered about what age that might be...i suppose it would be different if its 70 and cloudy versus 80 and sunny. So much of this is being played by ear.

Thanks again!
Oh, i meant to mention, its sort of a run and a coop when they get there. It can be made into a chicken wagon if we find need for that, and it can also become a large fenced-in area with a coop if we find that is better past hawk-vunerable stage.
I normally wait until they are completely feathered out before moving them outside. From my limited experience that takes 2.5-3 weeks for my chicks.
Red Rangers are great! We put ours out at 3 weeks due to weather earlier this spring, but I would say as young as 12 days if the pen is appropriate and the weather will be fantastic for the next 10 days. They will be so tiny that some coops may not have small enough chicken wire to keep them in. If you put them out at 3 weeks make sure there will be no rain for the whole first day and that the weather doesn't fluctuate more than 30 degrees each day. You will also want to harden them off faster which at this point (after the first week) will mean decreasing the brooder temperature two degrees every day. Many breeds can't handle this which is why every one says only 5 degrees a week, just watch them and make sure they aren't piling up on each other or sound distressed. They should feather out faster this way also. The first few days keep them enclosed where you want them to eat and sleep. We let them free range around 4-5 weeks old and they will put themselves to bed every night! We even have two pens that we marked the chickens with dye they free range together and at night they put themselves back in the pens they belong in and don't mix it up. Your biggest rooster will handle this from a young age and he picks bed time based on the sun. Walking in the coop after bed time usually involves him pecking at me!
I know this is getting long...
We feed in the morning and then around 4-5pm because I've personally found that they will still want to walk around after eating and if I push it too late into our dinner/bedtime routine sometimes things happen and I end up forgetting to feed them until 7 or 8 and they've already put themselves up for the night. They will still eat, but I feel awful (and that dang head rooster pecks at me for waking them up!!)
The rooster will pick where they sleep so make sure it isn't up against the chicken wire (ummm we learned this the hard way! And someone lost a head...) you will either have to cave to them and put a hard side up or scoot them around at night to a safe place until they learn.
We love this breed, they are so smart and love to be on pasture, the sooner the better I say! You can bring them clover if it grows near you while they are in the brooder, it has protein and won't mess up their rations too much and is one of ours favorite thing to search for. Plus they are cute trying to scratch at it and eat it (they may need grit also, or just pull it up roots and all and they can use the dirt)

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