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Time to let them out?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Prairie Orca, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Prairie Orca

    Prairie Orca In the Brooder

    My chicks (9 weeks tomorrow) have been in the coop for quite some time, in a fenced off area to protect them from the adults (most notably the nasty rooster, Itchy). This past weekend my dad took care of Itchy and now he's in the freezer (RIP [​IMG] ), which leaves me with two hens (Yappy and Cochina) and one rooster (Scratchy). Scratchy is a very well behaved rooster - good with the girls (VERY good manners, saint-like compared to Itchy), and the most he does to acknowledge my presence is to give me a two/three foot berth and sometimes looks at me. Just last week when I went to see if the chick feeder needed more feed in the late afternoon, I saw Scratchy right up at the wall/wire looking at the chicks, and the chicks were crowding close to him, making content peeping sounds.

    I have no fencing outside - the chickens have free range of the entire eight-acre property, with lots of trees and bushes. The coop is raised on concrete and wood blocks, so sometimes if I accidentally startle one of the girls they dart under (Scratchy's too big to fit). I have yet to let all the chicks outside as I am not confident I can completely ensure their well-being, as there are twenty-two of them and seven of them being the excitable Easter eggers. I have no way to fence them in to prevent that them from wandering dangerously far from each other and safety. I also think I should make a plank or something for the coop entrance, as there is a one-foot drop to the ground.

    The chicks are about three quarters of the size of the smallest hen, Yappy, and about a third of Scratchy's size. When I got Itchy and Scratchy along with Quiet Hen (RIP) and Yappy last year the two boys were a little bigger than what the chicks are right now.

    Should I just start letting them outside right away with the adults and trust they go back in when it's their bedtime? Or should I take some more precautions first?

  2. 7&8

    7&8 Songster

    Mar 29, 2010
    After having all but two of my flock taken by a fox, I bought electric poultry netting. Sooner or later, just letting them loose, you likely will lose hens (and rooster) to predators. The electric poultry netting has options for its power source: 110; battery; solar.

    Having said that, if you don't plan to have a secure place for your mature birds, chicks without a broody should be fine going out when they are fully feathered. Your flock has had some interaction with the chicks, and with space, they will be able to escape from grouchy adults. I would still monitor the introduction in case there are problems.

    A ramp would help them with the in & out of the coop part. Even with a ramp, it might take them awhile to get up the nerve to go out. And I would definitely plan on being around in the early evening - before dusk - to help them in. It takes awhile for some young ones to figure out going back in to a coop, as well.

    I tried the zero protection approach to chicken farming. It failed. I wish you better luck.
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011

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