What age to let chicks free range?

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by peachesdeese, Sep 17, 2009.

  1. peachesdeese

    peachesdeese Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 31, 2009
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    At what age can you let hand raised chicks out of the coop to free range and trust they will come back? I have my coops separated by age/size. I would like to rotate who gets out to free range! I can't let them all out at the same time. The bigger ones will pick on the smaller ones!
    I know the smaller ones are itching for their turn to kick around!
    So...whats a safe age??
     
  2. Beekissed

    Beekissed True BYC Addict

    I let mine free range with the bigger flock at 4 weeks of age. If they are truly free ranged, they can avoid the bigger birds easily. They also pick up some good habits from watching the older birds. It was so funny to watch these little chicks running for cover each time the roo sounded an alarm....they learned all that in just a couple of days. I've never had any older birds picking on the younger ones except in the coop at meal time. They tended to not let the young ones eat until they had their own fill.

    Even then, they never pecked them hard enough to make any marks on them and the chicks learned quickly about the pecking order.
     
  3. Do your babies have a mom ?

    I let my babies go into the barn WITH MOM at 3 weeks.

    She usually knows best and the other hens seem to know that
    they are her babies and they do not bother them.

    Other wise I put them in the barn at 5 weeks and hope for the best.
     
  4. peachesdeese

    peachesdeese Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I hatched these babies. No Momma Hen to look after them! They are about 8 weeks old now. Can I trust they will go back to their pen if I let them out??
     
  5. basicliving

    basicliving Keepin' the sunny side up

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    How long have you had them in their pen/coop? I left mine closed in for about a week, and then let them out in a chicken run for another week or so. When they went back into their coop from the chicken run each evening, I knew they had it figured out and I could free range them knowing they'd go back to their coop in the evenings. Although I have a few "teenagers" that don't like to go to bed as early as the others and I occasionally have to round them up.
     
  6. IGmom

    IGmom Out Of The Brooder

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    I have just gotten 27 new babies chicks. I too am wondering about letting them out. The house I have is above ground with and enclosed lower pen area. There are 10 RIR's and 2 Silver Wyandottes, and the rest are Silkies. I am concerned because the RIR's are sooo much bigger than the Silkies and they seem to be pretty feisty. The Wyandottes seem ok with the silkies though. Should I separate the reds from the rest and/or can they all go in the pen together?
     
  7. devora

    devora Chillin' With My Peeps

    To IGMom, I've had no issues raising banties and standards together. No need to separate. And Welcome!!

    Re: the original Q, I let mine go out when they are about 8 weeks. They spend one or two weeks completely in the coop/run.

    The first time I let them range they get out about an hour before sunset. That way they will go in quickly and I can watch the whole scene. Every day I extend it a bit, letting them out earlier and earlier.

    Good luck!
     
    Kay Rouse, 9blessings and marylee73 like this.
  8. Daisy8s

    Daisy8s Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would second the advice to begin by letting them out about an hour before sunset. That way they don't wander far and with darkness naturally return to their coop to roost in safety.

    I put my chicks in the coop when they were about 2 months old and kept them enclosed for another week just so they learned that the coop was home. Then, I began letting them out to free range for longer and longer periods each day.

    Another hint: feed treats inside the coop and use your own special call to tell them treats are coming. This way I can get my flock to return to the coop even in the middle of the day in case I need to close them up for some reason. My hens come running, well, waddling, when I go in the coop, bang on their roost with their treat container and call, "Chickens! Chiiii--iiiiickens!"
     
    Kay Rouse, 9blessings and marylee73 like this.
  9. IGmom

    IGmom Out Of The Brooder

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    Bixby, Ok.
    Thanks for the reply's! One more question on the topic...at what temps can they start coming out of their 'enclosure' into a safe completely fenced (top and bottom)area outdoors? It is in the low 60's today here but windy. Thank you, you all are great!!!
     
  10. kari_dawn

    kari_dawn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    the general rule is wait till they are fully feathered. By then, they should be pretty much "weaned" off the heat lamp. have to tell you...I tossed my last batch of babies out early. They stunk, they kept getting out of the brooder, everything was covered in chicken dust. I was sick of cleaning baby poo off of everything. They hadn't quite gotten all of their feathers in on their heads and necks, and it was pretty cold (colder than 60). I put them in the little run, stuffed it with straw, like REALLY stuffed it with straw to help with heat retention, and gave them a dog carrier so they could all pile in and keep eachother warm. I do not have a way to provide a heat lamp or any other heat source out there.

    They did just fine. They quickly learned that by going inside the carrier, their body heat kept it nice and warm. As long as you give them access to an area that is nice and warm, at eight weeks (I think I put mine out at six or seven weeks), they should be okay. Just keep an eye on them, and if they are acting like they are truely cold and miserable (not just complaining about it!), make adjustments accordingly.
     

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