too young to free range?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by mrsruvi, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. mrsruvi

    mrsruvi Out Of The Brooder

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    My girls are about 4-5 weeks old. They are nearly completely feathered, with the exception of one who just seems to be a late bloomer. Right now they are in the coop with access to a run, which they never go out into. But every time i go out there to see them, they run out the door like they cant wait to be outside. I'd like to let them free range a bit, but i worry they are too small and will get hurt, so i dont want them out unless im out there too. but then when im there my kids are there and the poor girls just get chased mercilessly around the yard.

    Would you let your girls out to wander without you around? say for an hour in the morning while you are showering an getting dressed? or are they too small still?

    [​IMG]

    Thats a recent picture of them. That brown one in the corner is the biggest of them.
     
  2. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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  3. speckledhen

    speckledhen Intentional Solitude Premium Member

    I'd not let them out to free range till they are older, no, not unless you are right there every second. At that age, they're hawk bait. I usually don't allow free ranging for chicks under about 12 weeks old unless they are with a broody mama.
     
  4. FarmerJohn3285

    FarmerJohn3285 County Line Farms

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    Quote:Keep in mind that a lot can happen in an hour. However, if you are almost certain they are free from danger, i.e. hawks, dogs, cats, etc., then I don't see why you couldn't let them out for a while. Previously, I've let mine run around for a bit when they were that age. I never let them be by themselves for an extended period of time, just because i didn't want anything to happen to them. No offense, but I would NOT let the kids chase them what-so-ever, simply because it's UN-NEEDED STRESS. However, that's just my honest opinion.

    But back to your question, they are too young to really fend for themselves. All-in-all, if they have access to a run which provides them with protection without you having to watch over them or worry if you're not, then I would just let it be, and they can go out in that run if they want. [​IMG]
     
  5. debid

    debid Overrun With Chickens

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    The problem with letting them out for an hour or two here and there (aside from the predator risk -- they're still small enough for even smaller predators like cats to harm them) is that it can be difficult to get them to go back in.

    After I moved mine into the coop but had not yet finished the run (age range 5-8 weeks), I'd let them out while I was working on their run or out in the yard. They did great foraging as a group and I accepted that there was risk involved but it was worth it to me because they were so very happy being out. But getting them back in? Ugh! The past few days, I've let them out in the late afternoon so they'll be more willing to go in after a couple of hours. They're loving it! The run will be finished this weekend and I'm sure they'll be thrilled to have all the dirt baths they like. I'll probably keep the pattern going with some range time before they go to roost.
     
  6. TheSitcomGirls

    TheSitcomGirls Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I waited until my first group of peeps last year were five months old to let them out to free range with no supervision. Small chickens attract hawks. Not just the redtailed hawks...but the little Coopers Hawks. They feed on morning doves around here and a 6 week old chicken is not much bigger!

    At 7 weeks I let this years peeps out for a few hours a day free ranging by themselves with the big chickens. For small chickens it's important to have TONS of cover. My peeps spend their time hanging out under the mulberry bush and then dashing to the blackberry bushes. I never see them hanging out in the open unless I am right there with the dogs.

    [​IMG]

    At 9 weeks now they spend all day outside. But I wouldn't let them free range unsupervised at this age if they didn't have big chickens to tell them what to do!!

    [​IMG]
     
  7. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I just posted this same question! Mine are 8-10 weeks old, fully feathered, but still not BIG enough for me to think a hawk would not eat them...I will wait a few more weeks I think. It looks like they have lots of room in their coop, so I wouldn't worry about them getting bored etc. Why not put a few large tree branches and things for them to climb on etc...give them something to do to "pass the time"
     
  8. WVChickenFarmer

    WVChickenFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I guess I am a bad person then. I have been letting my 9 week old chicks free range of course I'm out there watching them. I only let them out for 30 mins - 2 hrs at a time. I'm too nervous to let them out of my sight yet. But they really seem to enjoy going out and eating all the grass and bugs they find.
     
  9. JodyJo

    JodyJo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:LOL, you aren't bad...its whatever works for you and where you live etc. Mine would love to go out now I think, but I have too many predators to allow it yet.
     
  10. WVChickenFarmer

    WVChickenFarmer Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Quote:LOL, you aren't bad...its whatever works for you and where you live etc. Mine would love to go out now I think, but I have too many predators to allow it yet.

    Thanks for not thinking I'm bad. [​IMG] We do have predators around here. My husband saw a black snake going across our driveway just the other day. I'm glad I was not home to see it.[​IMG]
    We also have hawks around here but I have not seen any yet. But that does not mean they are not around. That is one reason why I watch mine so closely when let them out.
    I know my husband thinks I am crazy but I don't want anything to happen to my babies.
     

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