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What age to start free ranging? UPDATE: pics on post 15

Discussion in 'Chicken Behaviors and Egglaying' started by Jeffross1968, Jun 27, 2011.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    At what age can I start to free range young chickens and still feel comfortable that they will return at night to the coop.
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2011

  2. nivtup

    nivtup Songster

    Apr 24, 2008
    Shelton Washington
    We start to push ours outside around 6 weeks.

    They really like the freedom, and they are pretty good about getting back in when needed.

    You will have to help them out the first day or two. We find that a heat lamp goes a long way towards letting them know where to go at night, or in bad weather.

    Good luck
  3. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    I do it stages. Brooder rear through 4 weeks, chicken tractor weeks 5 through 8, followed by free range with chicks roosting in chicken tractor or transitioned to an elevated roost. My birds (dominiques) highly vulnerable to Coopers hawks through greater than 6 weeks so a little extra time allowed to give more size.
  4. ilovemychickens5110

    ilovemychickens5110 In the Brooder

    Jan 8, 2011
    My chickens come back from free ranging because they know they are getting feed because I feed my chickens at night. So maybe after your chickens understand that they are getting feed there and sleep there, they will return to the coop after free ranging.
  5. kaybats

    kaybats Songster

    Jun 4, 2011
    Thank you so much for posting this question! I want very much to free range my girls and boys, but I am terrified I will lose one. I have 10 acres and there is a bit of growth on the land, what if one gets away from me and I can't find her? Also I am on a state hwy, busy by rural standards....what if one gets out on the highway and gets hit? Do they really all come back when you want them to? At nearly 17 weeks, is it too late for me to teach them?
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Something I have learned with free ranging is that if possible, avoid having feed in area where birds roost. Two nocturnal predators, racoons and oppossums, seem attracted to smell of feed first. Chickens are like an afterthought that will not be passed up when encountered.
  7. hcppam

    hcppam Songster

    I let mine out about an hour before dark at first, so they stay close to they'er coop. [​IMG]

  8. centrarchid

    centrarchid Free Ranging

    Sep 19, 2009
    Holts Summit, Missouri
    Quote:If they are already accustomed / imprinted on coop, they should return to it first night. This will hold even if released at dawn and allowed to free range all day, assuming getting back in does not involve physical barriers not crossed as they leave coop.
  9. the4heathernsmom

    the4heathernsmom Songster

    Jul 1, 2008
    east texas
    Yea i learned the hard way about feeding at night... [​IMG]
  10. LostMindPleaseFind

    LostMindPleaseFind Chirping

    Jun 16, 2011
    Little Rock, AR
    I let them roam when they had gotten big enough to where they could not fit through the fences. [​IMG]

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