WHAT AGE TO START FREE RANGEING

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by franfoley, Jun 7, 2007.

  1. franfoley

    franfoley Out Of The Brooder

    My chicks are 7 weeks old and I would like to start free rangeing them.

    They have been in the coop for 3 weeks and go into the hen house every nite. It only took 2 nights for them to begin going in every nite.

    There are only a few (about 4) that use the roost and the others just sit on the shavings.

    Should I just open the gate to the run and let them out?

    Will they return to the coop and enter the hen house at night?

    I am worried they will forget where to go and not come back.

    I must be an overly protective mama. HELP
     
  2. MayberrySaint

    MayberrySaint Chillin' Out

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    Mar 7, 2007
    Mount Airy, NC
    I started mine out at 7-8 weeks. I had a couple of nights where 2 or 3 were missing at night. Had to go find them but it was no problem. If they have been going into the coop from your run already, you should have no problem with them coming home after free-ranging.
     
  3. ozark hen

    ozark hen Living My Dream

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    Apr 4, 2007
    Mansfield, MO
    mine are 8 1/2 weeks and I am terrified to open the pen to let them free range yet. [​IMG] I think I will let them stay in the pen area for another week or two and hope I have the courage by then. [​IMG]
     
  4. Whirlwind

    Whirlwind Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 14, 2007
    Tuttle, Oklahoma
    Maybe for the first time or 2 only let them out for an hour or so before dusk. Then you could keep an eye on them and make sure they go back in okay. If they go in fine then I am sure it would be ok to let them go for it. Have fun cause then the run wont be good enough and they will beg to get out like my girls do. It really is pitiful the way they beg. [​IMG]
     
  5. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I usually start letting mine free range at 10 or 12 weeks, but that is only for their safety from the older hens and roosters in adjacent coops. I think yours will be fine free rainging at 8 weeks.
     
  6. New chicken family

    New chicken family Out Of The Brooder

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    May 6, 2007
    Madison WI
    We live in the city, but I let our girls (6 weeks) roam the yard for about 1 hour at a time - we are out there with them.
    They love it!!!!
    I was warned about hawks and won't let free range with out us out there....
    They are great at finding bugs and worms - it is so much fun to watch them running around! They act a little crazy! Like they realize they are alone and run to the others.
    Great entertainment!!!!!!
     
  7. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 3, 2007
    New Mexico
    I transitioned mine by watching them when they were out for the first couple of weeks, they were 4 and 7 weeks old. By the time they were 6 and 10 weeks old they were fine for not getting lost. Now at 9 and 12 weeks old they range farther and are out all day, but with no problems other than me making sure I don't step on them when they come running to Mama!
     
  8. doodledo

    doodledo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 4, 2007
    So you can leave them out all day at 4 weeks old? I was wondering how old they need to be to be out of the brooder. Is this right?
     
  9. lurky

    lurky Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 4, 2007
    Western MA
    I would say you'd be taking the risk of having to run a post telling us all about your dead chicks and how they were only 4 weeks old and a hawk got them. I would not take the risk until they are pretty much full size. When they are still little, there is more of a chance that something WILL happen, than WONT.
     
  10. Zenbirder

    Zenbirder Chillin' With My Peeps

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    May 3, 2007
    New Mexico
    I would be really cautious of hawks in the area also. We have been lucky this year, it has been unusually wet and there are LOTS of young cottontails for the hawks. Our local pair of red tails is also raising a brood a bit farther away from us this year so they don't fly over often. I have put the chicks away a couple of times when they were around. The chicks are hawk aware, and have numerous things to go under when a big bird flies over (mostly turkey vultures). My husband and I are home and around the chicks, the garden is right there so it is not like someone going off to work.
     

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