They're not gonna go AWOL, are they?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by cmjust0, Jun 12, 2009.

  1. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Songster

    1,283
    11
    161
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    So, we're going to let the chicks out this weekend.. They're about eight weeks old now, and have been in the coop for two weeks. My thinking was that two weeks in the coop should be plenty of time for them to make a home of it, but then I talked to my dad today.......

    He asked if we had a little pen they could go out in for the first few days..no..we're gonna let'em straight out to free range (we have a LGD who keeps the barnyard clear of predators). He asked if they were tame or wild...uh, they're pretty wild.

    He laughed and asked what I'd do if they didn't come back..?

    Well...I kinda thought "coming home to roost" was what chickens DID, on their own...instinctually.

    So, my question is...am I about to send my chickens out, never to be seen again, or will they come back like I'm thinking they will?
     
  2. Boyd

    Boyd Recipient of The Biff Twang

    9,163
    10
    271
    Mar 14, 2009
    MI
    I've rehomed chickens before that were over a year old, I did the same thing, but gave them a small run before I let them truely free range. They always came home [​IMG]
     
  3. Judy

    Judy Crowing

    34,024
    513
    448
    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    Mine did.

    They might even be afraid to go outside at first!
     
  4. chickenbottom

    chickenbottom Songster

    Dec 30, 2008
    hollister, florida
    mine are about 22 weeks now and i was thinking about letting mine free range if the lady allows me i mean they have been there for a month now and i think its time they get some freedom i just dont want the goat to trample them lol and maybe a small run to start with would be better
     
  5. James Hudson

    James Hudson In the Brooder

    52
    0
    28
    Jun 1, 2009
    I gave them freedom when I realize they were in no more danger.
     
  6. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Songster

    1,283
    11
    161
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    I'm thinking they'll be askeered to go out, too.. They've literally never seen grass...straight from the brooder to the coop, and I never took them outside to 'play' or anything like that. Too many chickens, too many other projects, and far too little time for that.

    Something else that worries me is that I don't have any electricity in the barn, where the coop is built... No electricity means no light, which means the coop will be darker than the outside. I've read where a few folks had a problem getting their chickens to go into a dark coop..
     
  7. granmahen

    granmahen Songster

    380
    5
    131
    Jun 11, 2008
    Bakersfield, CA
    I'm such a mama hen, I waited longer than I needed to (they were laying before I let them out). Then I guarded them with my bamboo cane like a shepherd for weeks. DH laughed and laughed. Recently began letting out my 10 wk. old silkie and everything's fine. I'd guess they'd all stick pretty close together. You might feel more comfy if hung around them the first few days. [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2009
  8. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Songster

    1,283
    11
    161
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    In y'alls collective experience...when eight-or-so week old chicks go out for the first time, do they go very far? Or do a few of the 'brave' ones just kinda walk outside for a minute before they get freaked out and run right back in the coop?

    I ask because...well, somehow I just can't imagine that they're going to come busting out the pop door and head for the hills, having known nothing in their lives but walls and ceilings and pine shavings under their little feet...
     
  9. Casey3043

    Casey3043 Songster

    I took my 7 week olds out yesterday for the first time. They were terrified. They huddled together under the garden cart and did not venture more than a couple feet from there all day, although it was a fenced yard. They didn't BEGIN to seek the edges of their territory! Today was their second day, and they were much braver. They went as much as ten or twelve feet from the garden cart! I brought their feed and water out too, and gave them a treat of cut up fruit. I was in and out of their yard as I built the ramp for them to go in with. The adult hens were in their nearby yard, and no one paid any attention to the babies.

    Because of a wire in the wall, I had to put the pop door 18 inches up inside and that made it 36 inches up outside. They have a looonnngg ramp (7 1/2 feet) so it isn't too steep. I spent the afternoon putting the cleats on it. I could have gotten finished faster if I didn't stop to watch them play every few minutes!

    It will be interesting to get them in tonight. I will put the light on inside and sort of put them on the ramp and see if they have enough sense to go on up.
     
  10. cmjust0

    cmjust0 Songster

    1,283
    11
    161
    Apr 30, 2009
    Central KY
    That's about what I figured.. I'm just going to cut the door tomorrow, frame it up and all that, then leave it open until dusk and see what happens. If they want out, they'll go. If not, they won't.

    $100 says they're all too...chicken. [​IMG]

    Ours are going to have a super long ramp, too, just because of the way things were in the barn.. It was either a super long ramp or a super short pop door...like, 6" tall.

    I went with the long ramp.
     

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: