When can I put them outside? When can they free range?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Carolyn227, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. Carolyn227

    Carolyn227 Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 30, 2011
    I just got 8 new chicks yesterday. They are soooo cute and they're pacifying the children's desire to get a dog (for now). We all love our chicks and we enjoy the older chickens too. They free range part time and are fun to watch.

    We have a commercially bought chicken house from when our chickens were chicks. We used it until fall when we constructed a sturdier hen house. It is no longer in use but I cleaned it up in anticipation of new chicks. I need to put it back together and find a nice grassy spot for the enclosure. I'm worried about drafts so I've asked my hubby to put in another wall to protect them around the front. He already put in boards on the sides to keep it from being quite so drafty. I can't find many pictures of the coop, but here it is. The front drops down to a ramp and we have an enclosure that works with it. Last frost here is in June (well, sometimes earlier, but for gardening purposes anyway). Will another board in the front be sufficient for keeping them protected or do I need to do something else in addition? Will I need to keep a light on them? How long is the light necessary? How old until they can free range with the other hens? Our yard is fairly well enclosed though we've had one hen somehow figure a way out into the front yard once. I think my DH found the spot she came out from and put something in front of it to keep that escape route closed up. I worry about predators (especially racoons) so they're only let out when we're going to be home. I also worry that if I let the chicks free range too soon they won't go back to the hen house automatically at night like the older hens do (we started free ranging a few weeks ago and they're last spring's chickens).

    Any feedback would be appreciated!

  2. Judy

    Judy Chicken Obsessed Staff Member Premium Member

    Feb 5, 2009
    South Georgia
    If you can manage the drafts and temp, you can put them outdoors from day one. They will need a heat source, but not as hot as you'd think, especially after a few days. If they have the opportunity to explore, they will accustom themselves to cooler temps quickly. You can tell by their behavior whether they're warm enough, if the heat source is set up so they can get under it for warmth or away from it for exploring and to cool off. You can always put a sheet of plastic up -- I've been know to use garbage bags in a pinch. Lots of hay to snuggle down into helps a lot, too.

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