when are chicks ready to free -range


In the Brooder
9 Years
Apr 28, 2010
North Attleboro
Hi all...when are chicks safe to free range without close supervision??...they are 8 weeks on monday and have been in the coop/ run for 3 weeks now....just looking for opinions...i think they would be fine but my only worry is red tailed hawks sometimes in the area...from about 4 till dusk..not always but occasionally....basically my only real predator worry i believe...when are they old enough to spot the issue and book it..LOL???...thanks all


10 Years
Mar 31, 2009
SouthEast Texas
I don't think chickens learn to spot hawks until they've experienced the thread first hand. And i always consider hawks a threat, at any age. I just free range anyway and hope for the best. My rooster does a pretty good job warning the girls of hawks flying overhead, but the girls sometimes don't listen either. I simply choose quality of life over the rare threat of loss due to hawks.

I think your area also makes a big difference. I have a lot of trees and woods, which gives my chickens more cover.


Flock Mistress
10 Years
Apr 14, 2009
Benton (Saline County) AR
I kick mine out as early as possible, basically as soon as they know where their home is. I've got some 5ish week olds out on the yard now and the grass is almost taller than they are!!!!!!!

I also think it takes them some experience before they know to look for hawks, my rooster is good about sounding the alarm --- though the chicks don't listen to him. We are fortunate to not have a big hawk problem here. They are healthier and cost me less (eat less feed) when they are on the grass, so I am always happy to turn them out.


Snuggles with Chickens
9 Years
Apr 29, 2010
Rockport, Tx
I put mine outside in the tractor when they were 9 days old. They love the grass and dirt and bugs and being able to run an flap their wings! They are 4 wks old tomorrow and are real pros at navigating the whole backyard. I was wondering about 'chicken talk', you know, like a momma hen would do for her babies. I remember when I was little and had chickens, that the momma hen would make a sort of high pitched trill when she wanted the babies to run for cover. I wondered if the hatchery chicks would recognize that signal so I tried it. Holy cow, did they! They ran for the nearest cover like they were shot out of a gun and stood motionless until I started talking to them and telling them it was OK. Just thought I'd mention that. I also do turkey calls.....


9 Years
Mar 3, 2010
Boerne, TX
My girls are 10 weeks old and we don't have hawks in our area (other than very rarey) but today when they were out in the yard and I ws out there with them I heard two blue jays start screaming at each other over head and all four of my girls high-tailed it under the cover of a very bushy fig tree. I was suprised but they seemed to instinctively know that sound from up above them was a possible threat. Of course, I have to caveat that by saying that my girls are very chicken chickens
so they tend to run from everything.


Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!
14 Years
Nov 9, 2007
SW Arkansas
They will learn to pay attention to the jays and the crows and know when to react based on what they hear.
I do believe that chickens that have been free ranging since they were very young have more chicken smarts and are therefore less prone to dangers than say some 6 month old birds turned out for the first time.
You'll never see my birds out from under cover during hawk "times". Heck even I have trouble finding them during those hours.


9 Years
May 6, 2010
SW Iowa
I have some 6 week old pullets that we were allowing to free range in our back yard and a neighbors yard that is vacant right now. I lost one of them yesterday to something. We still don't know what it was. So for now they will remain locked in their pen which does have some grass so they can get outside. I live in a small rural town in IA. What is so bizarre is that we were in and out all day and although a couple times we saw the pullets heading for the coop we never saw a threat. So I don't know for sure what it was. I love for them to be able to free range but I know that we have fox that have been spotted within a block of our house, there are hawks as well as cats and dogs around.

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