When to turnout the chickens?

TN RDG RNR

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Rhea County
I bought 6 chicks 3 weeks ago and they are growing like a weed. They are the size of a big fat dove right now. Their in a 2'X4' rabbit cage presently but the plan is to let them loose on my farm when they get big enough to outrun dogs, cats and coons. Put some nesting boxes in the barn and let them lay me some fresh eggs.

How old or what size would it be safe to turn them out?
Would I be better off building a chicken pen?

Thanks
 

Crappie Luck

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You'll be safer keeping them in a pen until they are about 3 months old. Pullets are easy prey because they cannot fly up to roost or get away from predators easily.

You'll need to "Home" them to a pen where they know to roost. Then you can start letting them out during the day and lock them up at night and take "roll call". Eventually you just let them run loose and they'll return home before dusk.

However, with only 6, I'd keep a close eye on them. Your loss to predators and "MIA" chickens could easily be 4 of your 6 before the first eggs 1 20 weeks.

If I plan to free range my chickens, I buy 2X what I expect to have as layers. They drop like flies in the wild :)
 

rabbit hunter

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Beech Bluff, TN
^^^^^^^What Crappie said.........

My hens free roam and before dark they go back to the pen to roost. I kept them in the pen for awhile to get use to it, then I would let them out during the day and would herd them back up at night and close the door. Now, I leave the door open all the time, except for severe weather. They come and go all day, but before dark, they are always back in the pen to roost. That's where I feed and water them, so that's home to them. Good Luck!
 

Nimrod777

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I built a chicken tractor to transition my pullets to the outside world, and kept them in there for a couple months. I have what I call a "playpen", just four panels of fenced frame, and I would often put them in that for the day, moving it to new clover and grass periodically. Always provided water and a sunshade corner for cover.

At the time my biggest concern was that they be mature enough to not get air-lifted out by hawks (we haven't had any problem around our place), and that they be grown enough to integrate well into the existing flock. Out of 7, we only lost the two that became roosters and went the way of Craigslist.
 

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