When to let chicks out in the yard, supervised, but not in a pen

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DomMom, Oct 14, 2012.

  1. DomMom

    DomMom New Egg

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    We got 9 chicks at 5.5 weeks and now they are 6.5 weeks and I take them out in a big dog crate without a floor when it's nice outside to nibble grass. They live inside the house and the place I got them from said to keep them living inside for another 3 weeks at least.

    Because they live inside they don't call the coop home at night and it won't be up for another few days anyways.

    My question is when I can I let them roam in the 4 foot fenced in yard freely (supervised) and be able to round them up again? Any tips for a the first few times? Should I wait til they call the coop home? Even if then, at what age do you allow chicks out freely with supervision?

    I'm picturing 9 chicks flying over the fence in opposite directions.....

    Thanks!
     
  2. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    With my dominique chicks that are brooder reared, they are moved permantently outside into a chicken tractor at about 4 weeks. By 5 weeks they are released late in day for supervised free-range forage under guard of dog and sometimes myself. At roosting time they go back into box inside chicken tractor and shortly after dark I go out and close chicken tractor up so birds have more protection in addition to dog. They can handle temperatures down to freezing by 4 weeks so long as they stay dry and out of wind.

    I avoid moving chicks back and forth between brooder and outside. They pickup parasites like cocci that can go crazy with birds that are stressed by movement and confinement.
     
  3. DomMom

    DomMom New Egg

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    Are you saying they should be kept inside until they are ready for the coop? That's fine and I can do that. I just want what is best for the girls.

    So far they've only been outside when we were cleaning out their brooder and today I left them out for about an hour.
     
  4. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    They are ready for coop now assuming no older birds to bully them and they will roost in secure location where predators can not get at them.
     
  5. DomMom

    DomMom New Egg

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    Oct 13, 2012
    Raleigh, NC
    centachild, after reading many of your posts, I'm much more inclined to believe you than the breeders we got them from.

    They need no transistion time from our 75 degree house to a well built coop that the outside temps go into the 40's at night?

    Thank you so much for your responses!
     
  6. centrarchid

    centrarchid Chicken Obsessed

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    Wait to make move on warmer night to avoid piling and smoothering. Your birds should be able to handle very well but check shortly after dark to see how they are arranged in roost.
     
  7. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    I used a dog crate too at first, I was so afraid to let them out, and also didn't want a hawk to swoop in as they were still so young. I also was afraid of them scattering in different directions and not being able to round them up. When I finally did get up the courage when my husband was off one day, I figured two of us was better than me alone, I was suprised to see them stay fairly close to the feed room door that led to their brooder pen, which is at that point the only home they new. They would venture out a few feet, then get spooked, and all run back to teh brooder. Each time it seemed to get a bit farther , until they would roam a good bit but always, felt safe to run home if they had to.

    I would be hesitent to turn yours out to a yard just yet, as they don't have any where to run to return to that they are wired toknow as home. Right now home is somewhere you pick them up and bring them to, so I could see them getting a bit spooked. Perhaps wait just a bit longer, till your coop is ready outside, establish a fair amount of time that they know it's now home, then you can begin to open the door and let them have supervised time outside.

    That's how I did it, and it worked out great.

    Good Luck,
    MB
     
  8. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Mine have been venturing in their yard since 5 1/2 weeks. I just gauged the temps outside, i think it was in the 60's that day, and they had a ball. They spent their first permanent night in their coop last night (I just posted a lengthy post regarding that) and seemed to do just fine. The warmest the coop got was 60 and that was without a warmer. They are just getting tooooo big to stay in their brooder and needed more room to play. I just keep asking myself what they would be doing if they were being raised by a hen. LOL They would for sure be roaming the yards by now with their mom.
     
  9. Melabella

    Melabella Overrun With Chickens

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    I was so happy when my chicks spent the first night in their coop, like watching my kids get in the kindergarten bus, a milestone! I have also been listening to the OTimers in here ,and believing in mother nature, and their natural down coats and not worrying too much about the weather. Their coop is draft free and dry, so far so good. Up where I am we all ready have had 3 below freezing nights and they did just fine.

    Next time I start with day olds, their coop will be ready! I couldn't believe how big they got, so fast! If I even lifted the netting over the brooder pen, they would try to fly out. It was nutty! MB
     
  10. kdwag

    kdwag Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I know that next spring we are building a new coop. Mine was a prefab and is a piece of crap. We've done so much restructuring of it it's crazy. Mine is for sure not draft proof so i keep trying to find ways to make it warmer. I also think it has a leak but can't find it which is frustrating. Were it not for that, I would probably not worry quite so much but hopefully, i can keep making it better and just follow their lead. But i know what you say about their growing so fast. Their first few weeks were spent in a converted dog crate which they quickly outgrew ( i only have 4), and I had to build a larger brooder in the garage. (thank god for cardboard and duct tape, LOL). They could probably have spent another week in that but they were getting so feisty and spilling their water etc. What an experience. :) I think they are much happier being outside. Our weather this week will be good, 60s in day, upper 40s and 50s at night so maybe I won't need to worry about heat so much.
     

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