When to let hen/chicks out?

coolchickens

Songster
11 Years
Aug 29, 2008
148
1
121
Cool, CA (yes, that's its name
My Cochin hen has 4 babies, 1 wk old, in my new coop with a 14 ft. run on it. Mama has been taking babies out since day 2 into the pen during the day. I'm new at this so was wondering, when do you let the hen & chicks start free ranging with the flock? I know its way to soon now but I don't see much re chicks with a mama hen and what happens on this site, everything seems to be the incubated chicks without a mom. I'm afraid to let them out for a long time due to poss. predators, etc. but know eventually I will need to. Any advise for a 1st hatcher, both mama hen & mama owner? Thanks - Sharon
 

houndit

There is no H or F in Orpington!
11 Years
Jul 13, 2008
2,231
108
244
Braymer Missouri
I would wait untill they have all their feathers. When we turn out our young hens with the older ones they usually are at least 3 months old. And this is when we are putting 100 young hens in with about 100 old hens. Mama should try to protect them but she may not be able to. It also depends on the kind of birds you raise. We have mainly red sexlinks and they are vicious to newcomers. I have had them kill a muscovy duck for no reason at all. If you have one of those really tolerant breeds like sussex you might be O.K. doing it earlier.
 

cmom

Hilltop Farm
12 Years
Nov 18, 2007
22,498
13,000
641
Florida
My Coop
I agree with 'houndit'. I would wait until they are 3/4 months old at the earliest, or close to the same size.
 

shelleyd2008

the bird is the word
11 Years
Sep 14, 2008
23,381
96
351
Adair Co., KY
I have 5 hens now with chicks. Two have been free range since I got them, when their chicks were about 2 weeks old. Two hens with chicks free range during the day, and go back to their tractors in the evening. Their chicks are 2 and 3 weeks old. But they are bantams, so they are pretty well feathered by 2 weeks...The other one just hatched her chicks yesterday, and she will be able to free range part time when they are about 2-3 weeks old...Out of all 4 free ranging hens with chicks, I have 37 chicks, two with 3, one with 13, and one with 18...I haven't lost any yet
One of the hens with chicks I bought had 6 with her, but wouldn't take 3 of them...evidently weren't her chicks. Those chicks came here when they were probably a month old, and they are still all here. Except for my broodies and mamas, none of my chickens ever get penned or caged up, and they roost in an open barn...
<edit> I have lost 5 chickens this summer, but none since my confirmed chicken killing pup got tied up...
 
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