When can chicks be let out to free range?


May 9, 2015
Chicken newbie here. I have 6 chicks that are almost 9 weeks old. They have been living in their coop outside for a week now. Prior to that I had been putting them outside in a "chicken tractor" for the day and bringing them in at night. It only took a few days once they moved outside for them to go into their coop at night, from their small enclosed run attached to it. My question is, when can I let them out to free range? Do they need to be older, or stay in the coop for longer? How do you teach them to stay close by? Or do I just open the gate and let them figure it out?
I would highly recommend putting up some overhead netting in a small area at that age. They are not very hawk smart and I tend to lose a lot of them if I let them wander around before they are about the age of an adult (maybe 4 months old).

When they do start free ranging it is risky even when adults so be prepared to lose some to predators now and then.

They will come back to the coop for the night and to lay eggs if they know that is where home is. They won't wander away and keep going or anything like that. Enjoy your chickens!
The small run that is attached to the coop is covered with a solid roof, so they are safe there.

How long do they have to be living in the coop for them to know that it is "home"? I'd like to start letting them out as soon as I can, I understand they are still very "snack sized" and I would only do it when I am able to be outside with them. Do I need to train them to stay close by, or will they do it on their own?

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