Tomorrow may be a big day!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by debir1966, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    We have 9 older hens and a rooster in our old coop. They are let out every morning to free range and locked up again at dusk.

    We have 20 chicks and 5 BBW poults that are 11 weeks old in our new coop, along with 13 chicks in a seperated brooder space that are 7 weeks old as well as an 8 week old turkey poult.

    We do not have the runs built yet and I have been wanting to get the older chicks & poults out to free-range during the day but have not been brave enough to do so yet.

    I just spent an hour or so reading every post I could find on the age appropriate for letting chicks out to free-range. It varies considerably, with what seem to be the going opinion of anywhere between 7 and 16 weeks being recommended age.

    I am thinking about letting out the older chicks and poults tomorrow a couple hours before dusk. We have so many nooks and crannies for them to hide in, I am worried about them not coming back to the coop to roost. I almost let them out tonight, but chickened (grin) out at the last minute.

    I either need some encouragement or some dissuasion about letting them start to free-range, support either way would be appreciated!

    Our new chicken house is raised and I would be using the man-door to let them in and out, which has steps up into the coop. I would keep their food and water inside the chicken house. I could keep the older hens and rooster locked up tomorrow to let the youngsters explore without worry of being harrassed but I have read it is better, in a free-ranging capacity, to let the youngens learn from the more experienced birds and that there should be less drama in a free-range introductory environment.

    Opinions on letting out the 7 week olds with the older chicks welcomed also :)
     
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    I'd suggest letting them out for an hour at first, so you can keep an eye on them and see if there are any way they can escape or get themselves into trouble. Once they are O.K. out there by themselves let the younger ones join in the fun. As soon as a chick is feathered out and if it's not too cold it'll be fine outside. They'll let you know soon enough if it's too cold for them. They may need some encouragement to return to the coop at first, but if you call them with food, or even better, treats, they'll soon learn.
    There may be some bullying from the older chickens once you let them all mingle, but they'll find their place in the flock. Hanging out with the rooster will be beneficial for them as I found roosters are great when it comes to early warning against predators and the young ones learn quick. Also the rooster will keep every one in check.
     
  3. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    Central Idaho
    Thanks so much for the reply sumi!

    I did it! This morning LOL. First I let the 11 week olds out. After about 15 or so minutes, I let out ONE older hen. She was interested in them, they in her, but basically ignored each other. Every 5 minutes thereafter I let out ONE more older hen. The 3rd hen came running out and started pecking at the scratch I had sprinkled around as a distraction, and suddenly looked up and realized she was not surrounded by "her" chickens and took acception to one of the turkeys. But the turkey didn't back down, as a matter of fact, as they were chest bumping a little, ALL the other turkeys came in and backed him up LOL. Nothing major, the hen wandered off and the youngens went back to exploring. I left the older rooster for last and made him wait about 20 minutes, and by the time he got out he was more interested in finding his ladies than inspecting the chicks.

    A little back-story: I want a mixed flock, so I ordered 20 hens, 2 each of 10 different breeds. So I have 2 Salmon Faverolles and they kept getting picked on. I even had to seperate them out before we got the new coop done. When we got the new chicken house finished and moved everyone to it, and put the younger chicks in the brooder space, I tried to re-integrate the 2 Faverolles. I thought it was going to be fine, but they kept getting picked on, so they ended up in with the littles (the youngest batch - 4 weeks younger than the older chicks and poults). They have been pretty happy in there, no one picks much on anyone else, it is cochins, silkies, yokohomas and some other misc. breeds.

    But, it is getting pretty crouded in there with the addition of the 2 Faverolles, the solo-turkey poult that we hatched out and the growing littles! So I thought today I would put the Faverolles back out with the older chicks, since they had only been seperated by chicken wire in the new coop for almost 3 weeks now.

    But EVERYONE, even my nicest hens, started to immediatetly pick on the Faverolles and the turkeys are so bad they wouldn't take a "bite" and hang on! I know you are not supposed to interfere but I tried tapping the attackers with a long stick to get them to back off, but they would just turn around and go for the Faverolles over and over.

    So I put the Faverolles back in with the littles and decided to NOT let the littles out with the rest of the flock. Some of the littles are just that, reaaaly little! The cochins are getting pretty big (standard size) but the silkies and our indian red jungle fowl are dinky still. So I decided to wait to put the littles out, at least until they are quite a bit bigger (another 4 weeks or so). I guess their run will be the first one to be built LOL so they have some more space!

    Anyway, the older chicks and poults did great! They ran around, basked in the sun, chased each other, explored and acted like goofballs for about 2 hours! They settled down and started to come back into the coop, a few at a time, to nap. I waited until everyone had wandered back in on their own and then decided to go ahead and shut the door (after doing multiple head counts LOL).

    I will let them out again tomorrow for longer. I am just so happy the first time went so well and everyone came back to the coop on their own!
     
  4. Silkies~Polishes

    Silkies~Polishes Chirping

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    I'm so happy that it was successful for you! I myself have had a lot of trouble introducing older chicks to my only run because even though all my chickens are nice, even my roo, but i have an aggressive polish hen that has killed 3 chicks and a hen that was a little smaller than her. But I did hatch today serama x frizzle polish chicks! Can't wait to see what they look like...you should give an update on your chicks in a couple days!
     
  5. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    Central Idaho
    They were out all day yesterday and did great! The only problem we had was when it started getting dark, they all didn't go back into the coop, some of them went UNDER it! We had to fish them out and put them in the coop. I believe these are the birds that are not roosting (we have a small group that still sleeps on the floor). We were not at home today nor will we be tomorrow, and I will not let them out unless I am home.

    They got alot bolder yesterday and explored farther, especially the turkeys! The only real problem we had was that every time we went out to check on them, they wanted to follow us back to the house LOL. My son has one in particular that is very friendly, a Speckeld Sussex, and he had to carry her back to the chicken house multiple times, deposit her inside and run back for the house before she had a chance to follow LOL.
     
  7. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

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    Maybe your son should wait until it's nearly dark. Chickens can't see very well when it gets dark. Safe you a bit of hassle, though it doesn't seem that you mind [​IMG] I'm glad things are going well by you.
     
  8. debir1966

    debir1966 Songster

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    May 27, 2012
    Central Idaho
    We let the younger chicks out for the first time today. I made a "chick" hole in a piece of wire and opened the door to their area just enough for them to go in and out, but not the bigger chicks/chickens/turkeys. So far they have only played around inside the chicken coop and have not come all the way outside. There has been some pecking, but they were pretty quick to figure out how to get back into their area away from the bigger birds.

    The only ones I am worried about are the really little ones - we have a few that are still tiny! Four silkies, a chantecler and an indian jungle fowl (the chantecler and jungle fowl are supposed to be standard sized chickens, but they are no bigger than the silkies!). The cochins (standard) are the boldest and came out first and stay out longest.

    It is so fun to watch them "stretch their wings" and run and flap around!

    [​IMG]
    The white cochin checking out the chicken ladder to the poop boards and perches.

    [​IMG]
    Red shouldered yokohama. She flies very well LOL.

    [​IMG]
    Bond, the cornish roo we got to breed our own meaties.
     

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