What age to let chicks free range?

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

  1. adgcountrygirl

    adgcountrygirl Chillin' With My Peeps

    I didn't let mine out of the run until they were as big as our cats. I only let them out of the fenced yard for True Free range when I am outside to watch them. I'm not afraid of hawks, because they have warned me of hawks so many times when I didn't see or hear them. I stay with them for free range because we have some dogs that roam the neighborhood. My next door's dog never enters our yard without a kid or adult from his own family, but there are are others who's dogs go where ever, when ever AND of course the dogs that people dump. Better safe than sorry.
  2. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2012
    North Georgia
    Hello, I'm new to chickens, but have learned a lot since I got them about 8-9 weeks ago. My husband and I decided to free-range chickens for their eggs, but I've now fallen head over heels for these guys, and want to do everything right - for their health and so that they can have good "chicken lives" while providing for us.

    We have a coop/run for all our fowl that's getting a bit small for the number of chickens that we have. I have 19 chickens and two guineas, and it's time to thin out the flock. I have homes for 4 of the hens, and we'll keep one rooster.

    I found it very enjoyable and informative to read these posts. I, too, was nearly driven nuts by raising day-old chicks in the house. (I'm still trying to get the dust and smell out!) I put them in the coop with a heat lamp a little early, but they did just fine. I'm also ready to free-range, and appreciate the logical advice to let them out an hour before sunset.

    This site is great, and I hope to visit often. Maybe I'll learn before I make too many mistakes.
    Regards, Leigh
  3. dreamcatcherarabians

    dreamcatcherarabians Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 29, 2010
    I keep reading where people raise their chicks in the house and I'm flummoxed by it. My DH would kill me, draw and quarter me and then divorce me if I ever tried such a thing! LOL!
    I take over the garage and kick cars & people out for the time I need to brood the babies.

    I have a 200 gal stock tub that I use as a brooder, I put shavings on the floor, food and water at one end and a heat lamp at the other, mabye 1/3 of the way toward the middle. If I'm raising them really early and we're still getting real cold, I toss a tarp over the top to help hold the heat in the tub. The first batch I ever did, I was over protective and by the time I put them in the coop they could fly and they were. All over the garage and pooping on everything! It took quite a while to clean that mess up. Since then I've learned, I keep them in the garage til 4 or 6 weeks if it's not very warm out, then I switch to the coop with a couple of heat lamps. When they're fully fledged, I let them out in the run for the daylight hours. By the time they are big enough to go outside and free range from the run, they already know that the coop & run are their "Happy Space" and run for cover whenever alarmed. I go out each night and make sure they're all inside the coop, shut the pop door and lock the run door. In the morning either DH or I let them out and prop the run door open with a stick. They have a nice large grassy yard to finish growing in, and once they are big enough to look mean at a cat, I let them range. My cats are well fed enough to not be real interested in the birds once they're pretty large.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
  4. Leavingegypt

    Leavingegypt Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 21, 2012
    My 6 are almost 7 weeks. I have a fenced yard, 1 1/2 acres. I let the chick-a-doodles out in the late morning and by mid-afternoon they go back in the run by them selves to take a nap. I check on them a few times and listen for any commotion. They always stay together and they have plenty of shelters (under the porch etc) to dive into if something startles them.
    This a pic of all of them putting themselves down for a nap in their run. They get 2 playtimes a day. Late morning and early evening.
  5. JLeigh

    JLeigh Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 19, 2012
    North Georgia
    Pat, believe me, I learned my lesson! IF I ever raise chicks again, it will be in the basement for the first several weeks, and then in the coop with a heat lamp. That's not a mistake I'll make twice. The dust was 1/4 inch thick, and it took days for it to settle and I dusted twice a day. And the smell...

    But, I do adore them. They're out in the coop/run and I let them out for about an hour yesterday and about two hours today. All has gone well. They put themselves back into the run. So far so good. It's nice to see them so excited by bugs and grass. Saw one get a worm today.

    Thanks, everyone, for the feedback. I really enjoy hearing what other people do, and how they go about it. I learn a lot.
  6. Trudi Higgins

    Trudi Higgins Out Of The Brooder

    Mar 25, 2013
    Dordogne, France
    This makes good reading for a novice! My chicks are now 8 weeks and I"ve been letting them in the coop for ages. I want to freerange them but am afraid my cats will get them - they have two broodies to help - is this too risky?
    PLEASE HELP !! They so want to get out of the coop !!
    Thanks all xc
  7. unicornia

    unicornia Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 14, 2012
    Sussex County, NJ
    Trudi, I was once worried about my cat getting the chickens, until I saw that the cats are afraid of our full grown chicken, even without a rooster!!! Now, I also have chicks that are 8 weeks old, and I have started free ranging them, and so far, no worries about the cat. I really wouldn't worry about it, if the chicks can peck, I am pretty sure that cat will run once s/he gets pecked.
    Last edited: May 28, 2013
  8. beirutjen

    beirutjen New Egg

    Aug 30, 2014
    We we lived in the Philippines, we noticed that native chicks free ranged from birth. (Admittedly, they were scrawny, but they tasted amazing.) Therefore, we've been allowing our chicks to roam in a "play pen" since they were a week old and now forage throughout the yard at two weeks. I think the key has been that we are doing yard work at the time, and so are not far from potential trouble. The biggest predator threat right now is our dog (see picture), who is also being supervised and trained not to kill the chicks. She's 13, so she's not too mobile, which helps.

    I have noticed them running around digging through the dirt and taking dirt baths. This morning I witnessed one chick find a small worm and eat it up. I think we are using less feed than our previous batch. They are certainly cleaner than if they stayed in the brooder (a converted dog crate) all day. Having them poop on the lawn and not the straw is helpful. Their food and water also stays cleaner. Now they wait in the morning by the door of the crate and poke their heads out like, "Hey! Let us go. We want to run!"

    By the end of an active day, most naturally return to the crate, and we can herd the rest home. I'm a novice at this, but since we have had the time and opportunity to supervise, we've been happy with the results. These are Murray McMurray chicks, if that matters.
  9. thetigress

    thetigress Out Of The Brooder

    Jun 21, 2014
    I have 15 new baby hens and 1 baby roo. Can I let them out when they're 9 week's old with the older 1 1/2 yr old hens to free range? Will they go back to their coop or maybe go to the older ones coop?
  10. Kadu

    Kadu Chillin' With My Peeps

    Sep 11, 2014
    Fayetteville, AR
    I let mine free range (after being in the coop for at least a week so they know that's where they need to sleep) at 5 weeks... They all love it!

    They don't care about age gaps because I don't fence them in at all. They get 3 whole acres all to themselves no borders or limits. =) They don't go that far though, they stay by the home base.

    I only let the chicks out on sunny days, so they have a warm spot. Just make sure they are completely feathered when they are let out. At least the body. I've let 4 chicks out when they didn't have feathers in the head, just still fluff, and they grew feathers faster than ever. =)
    Good luck with yours

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by