Should I "free range" 5week old chicks?

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by rooster47, May 15, 2010.

  1. rooster47

    rooster47 In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2010
    I have 5 week old adorable Isa Brown chicks. My husband has not built a run yet so I am wondering if I can let them out free range for a while - I will be watching them at all times. OR . . . should I put them in a 5 foot fenced area to play - a circle of chicken wire - instead? Love this site since I am a first-time chicken Mom. It's been such fun so far but even though I have two books from the bookstore - Chickens for Dummies and Raising Chickens, the books don't tell you everything. Thanks everyone - you've all been a great help!!!![​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  2. lovinlife

    lovinlife Songster

    I'd go with the fenced in area. Definitely.
  3. noodleroo

    noodleroo Snuggles with Chickens

    Apr 29, 2010
    Rockport, Tx
    I agree with the fenced area. I used a rabbit pen that was intended to be used inside, for my guineas; that's what I'm planning to use for short outings with my chicks.
  4. Mrs. Fluffy Puffy

    Mrs. Fluffy Puffy Fluffy Feather Farm

    Jan 26, 2010
    Texas, Panhandle
    Quote:X2, Be sure to keep your eye on them. [​IMG]
  5. geojane42

    geojane42 Songster

    Apr 5, 2010
    I built a great little outdoor playpen for our 6 week olds 2 days ago. It's basically a box frame covered in chicken wire with the bottom open. The top has a hinged door on it that is big enough for me to get through so I can round them up when party time is over. I'd post a pic but I can't find the right cable. It's heavy enough that the dogs can't move it but I can still drag it around the yard. They love it and have spent the last 2 days outside in the sunshine. I like having it covered because I worry about hawks/crows/eagles thinking they'd make a nice light snack.
  6. Laurieks

    Laurieks Where did the time go???

    Aug 14, 2009
    Sonoma County, CA
    I'd use a chicken tractor, like the above post... mine is an OLD watermelon crate covered in chicken wire. I made a new one recently... with sticks tied together, covered in wire, and feed sacks on one side for shade. The little guys love it, since I can rub a hard boiled egg on the top wire and it shreds it up for them.
    As they get older, a brick under one or two corners lets them out but keeps the adult birds out of the babies' food.
    Have fun!
    Last edited: May 15, 2010
  7. rooster47

    rooster47 In the Brooder

    Apr 30, 2010
    Thanks for all the great ideas and advice. I'll definitely keep them safe in an outside pen until they are much older and bigger. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  8. sheaviance1

    sheaviance1 Songster

    Apr 7, 2010
    I have let mine free-range since they were 2 weeks old, but only while I was right there with them (weeding the garden, turning the compost, planting seeds etc.). Starting them that young, they stayed very close to me, and still do at 2 months. If I even left for a minute to go inside, someone else would come outside for a minute, or they went back in the chicken play-pen. When they are that small, it is very easy to lose track of them and be unable to find them. You wouldn't know if they are just lost, or fallen victim to a predator. Their playpen was in a partially shaded area with a lid. Here, I have to protect them not only from hawks, but crows will kill a chick just because it can. We also have feral cats, beagles that run the roads, foxes, raccoons, opossums, and skunks.
  9. verlaj

    verlaj Songster

    Jan 31, 2009
    Micanopy, Florida
    I use a portable dog pen - one I got at Pet Smart for dogs years ago. It is made of several panels hinged together that you can set up in the shape you want and you clip the free ends together. It folds up flat when not in use. It also has a door in one panel that you can use if you want. It's so handy - I have used it for letting the chicks have outings once they are big enough that they can't go through the gaps in the wire. I put a bedsheet over the top either tied or clipped on with clothespins to provide shade and protection from hawks. There are wire U-shaped pieces that can be used to secure the pen to the ground (driven in the dirt over the base wire), which are easily pulled up when you want to move to a new location. It's easy to run a broomstick or the like through the wires to make a roost or hang a chick feeder - the wire is strong enough to support it.
    I have also used it to make an indoor enclosure when I needed more space for chicks before they go to the coop outdoors - put plastic sheeting underneath and pinned up the sides to hold in bedding.

    I don't have a photo of the whole setup, but here is a picture that lets you see a little of it. You can see the wire panels in the back of this photo. I'm not sure how old these chicks were at the time, but I have been putting my chicks out in it this year since they were about 3 weeks old. Any younger than that and I'm sure they could have gone through the wires.
  10. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast

    May 14, 2008
    North Phoenix
    My Coop
    Mine will be four weeks on Wed. and they'll be in a penned area where I hope they won't go through the wires. The brooder is just too small for 37.
    ...and I've already counted 18 roos.

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