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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by BarredBuff, Jun 25, 2010.
Mine are 8 week old Dominiques. When do you free range your chicks?
For chicks which have their own mama hen to look after them, I let them (and their mama) join the flock at 4 weeks of age. She keeps them safe, though she tends to hang out in the yard with them quite a bit at first, while the rest of the flock is out hiking around the land. The challenge is sneaking chick starter to them without the whole flock scarfing it down.
For store-bought chicks, it's a matter of when they no longer count as easy snackfood for the cats and owls. Usually between two and three months old.
Well, my flock consist of three differently aged groups, and I let them all range freely. The 8, maybe 9 month birds go the furthest, but still not yet out of my back yard. The 16 week old birds don't seem to go much further away than 20 feet from the run. The 11 week old bantams JUST ventured out of the run yesterday, for the first time. They're not going very far away from the run fence, either.
I'll be putting 8 week old chicks out this coming weekend, but they will be confined in a smaller area to "integrate" with the rest of the flock through safe segregation for a couple of weeks first. Everybody will be able to see each other through the fencing, hear each other, get to know each other but without contact. Then, when I let 'em loose (take down the temporary fence), they'll just join the rest of the flock. They'd be 10 weeks old by then.
My 1st group of chicks were bought from McMurray's , I let them start ranging at 10 weeks old last year. My 2nd group purchased i allowed to free range at 6 weeks old.
the hatched under momma babies, were out with momma at 3 days old. ALL are doing fantastic!
I think it depends on your property as well. For me, I let my chicks free range around my yard around 7 weeks or so. I live in a tightly urban area, and my entire yard is fenced with solid dog ear fencing about 8 or 9 feet high. My backyard is not very huge, but it is a good size. I blocked off the yard sides alongside the house, and let the girls have at it. My yard is small enough so that I can be out and in any given place very quickly if needed. At first I would only have them out when I was outside with them. Around 8-9 weeks old they free ranged in the yard while I did chores around the house. All the windows and doors were open though so I could hear ANY distress calls. Usually I ended up RACING out the door, only to find somebody stepped on somebody else while dustbathing, that's all lol. But like I said, I live in a populated urban area, and my biggest predators are nocturnal such as coons and possums. There are hawks here, but since I have had chickens I have never ever seen one over my house. Lucky probably, but it's nice to be free from THAT predator.
So all in all I think it depends on your property for what age to range them. If you have acreage (even just 1) that isn't securely fenced I would wait until closer to 10 weeks or so. If you have a smallish city backyard where you can have a pretty constant eye on them, I think you could aim for 7/8 weeks old. I would also take the climate into consideration. Do you have many woods or brush where you live? Just take a good look at your property however big or small and judge what dangers lurk for younger chicks. Just IMO Have fun though! It is wonderful to go outside and see my 12 week old girls enjoying their yard and gardens.
I have 7, one year old hens and 6, 10wk old chicks. I let the hens free range in the evening when I'm outside to look out for any dangers. I started letting the chicks join then last week and it has worked out fine. I wouldn't let them free range without supervision unless you have a very secure yard and even then hawks can sweep down from overhead.
Are the full grown chickens under the same amount of danger from hawks? Or is it worse cuz their little?
I have a group of 15 5 week old RiRs and they free ranged all day and came back at night. First few days they didnt go far but now they go anywhere.
Quote:I have three Dominiques that I take outside to free-range for about an hour each day. They are three weeks old today. Next week, they'll be outside in their coop and they'll stay inside of it for a couple of weeks and then I will let them have free access to their run at about six weeks or so. At that point, I will let them out to free-range in the evenings for two or three hours each day...more when I am home.
I've free ranged chicks from 2 days old before and the sooner they learn how to find their own food, the better. They end up being great bug eaters. Then I've Free Ranged some from a few months old and they were not that great.