When Can Chickens Go Outside?

By Chicken Pets on
When Can Chickens Go Outside?

Are you wondering when it’s the right time to let your chickens explore the great outdoors? In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the ideal age and conditions for taking this exciting step and share tips to make the transition smoother.

When Can Chickens Go Outside?

Chickens can go outside once they are fully feathered, which typically occurs between 5 to 7 weeks of age. Ensure that weather conditions are mild and that their outdoor environment is safe and secure before introducing them to the outdoors.

Understanding Your Chickens’ Development

Before we dive into the details of when to let your chickens outside, it’s important to understand the key stages of their development. Chickens go through several milestones during their first few weeks of life, and each stage comes with unique needs and considerations.

Chicks: 0-1 week old

During this time, your baby chicks will rely on external heat to keep their body temperature up, as they’re unable to generate enough heat by themselves. Providing constant warmth in a brooder is crucial during this stage.

Pullets: 1-5 weeks old

As your chicks grow, they’ll start developing some feathers and will gradually need less heat from external sources. It’s essential to slowly decrease the temperature in the brooder to help them acclimate to normal environmental temperatures.

Feathered: 5-7 weeks old

Once your chickens have fully-developed feathers, they are better able to regulate their body temperature. At this stage, they can be introduced to the outdoors, as they’re now prepared to face the external environment.

Preparing The Outdoor Space: Key Factors To Consider

While your chickens may be ready to move outside, you still need to ensure that their environment is safe and suitable for them. There are several factors to keep in mind when preparing the outdoor space for your flock:

Weather Conditions

It’s important to introduce your chickens to the outdoors when the weather is mild, without extreme heat or cold. This eases their transition to the outdoor environment and reduces any stress they may experience.

Outdoor Coop

Setting up a secure and well-built coop is essential for your chickens’ safety and comfort. Pay attention to ventilation, insulation, and space requirements to provide an optimal shelter for your flock.

Fencing and Predator Protection

Keeping your chickens safe from predators is a top priority. Install sturdy fencing, and consider additional deterrents like electric fences or motion-sensor lighting to keep predators at bay.

Shaded Areas

Ensure that your outdoor space includes shaded areas for your chickens to escape the sun and heat during hot weather. Providing ample shade helps prevent overheating and keeps your flock comfortable and healthy.

  • Leafy trees
  • Artificial shade cloths
  • Shade sails
  • Wooden structures

Food and Water

Keep fresh and clean water available for your flock at all times, and invest in a sturdy feeder with ample food supply. Adequate nutrition and hydration can greatly impact your chickens’ health and happiness.

Making The Transition To The Outdoors Easier

Moving your chickens outside can be a big change for them, but there are ways to make this transition smoother and less stressful:

Gradual Exposure

Before fully moving your chickens outside, consider giving them short field trips to explore the area. This helps them become familiar with their new environment while still having the security of the brooder nearby. Gradually increasing their time outside makes the final transition less daunting.

Monitor Your Flock

Keep an eye on your chickens during their first days outside. Observe their behavior, appearance, and interactions to ensure they’re adjusting well to their new surroundings. Monitoring them can help you identify any issues early on, allowing you to address them as needed.

Introduce New Birds Carefully

If you’re adding new chickens to an existing flock, introduce them gradually to minimize stress and reduce the chances of aggression or conflict. Keep new birds in a separate pen where the older chickens can see them for a few days before allowing them to mingle.

Common Outdoor Challenges and Solutions

Your flock may encounter a variety of challenges as they venture into the outdoors. Being aware of them and taking steps to address them will ensure a happier, healthier flock:


Chickens can be vulnerable to predators, such as raccoons, hawks, and foxes. Secure your coop with strong materials and maintain your fencing to keep predators at bay. Covering the top of your run to prevent aerial attacks from birds of prey also helps provide extra security.

Weather and Temperature

Extreme temperatures can affect your chickens’ comfort and well-being. Protect them during hot weather by providing shaded areas and keeping adequate water supply available, while winterizing your coop and adding bedding helps keep them warm during colder months.


Mites, lice, and ticks can infest your chickens, causing discomfort and potential health issues. Keeping the coop clean and treating pest infestations early can help prevent these problems from escalating. Be sure to check your flock for signs of pests regularly.

Understanding The Benefits of Outdoor Life

While the transition to the outdoors can be a significant change for your chickens, it brings numerous benefits for their overall health and happiness:

Better Mental Health

Allowing your chickens to roam and explore the outside world can improve their mental health, reducing boredom and stress from confinement. Chickens that spend time outdoors are generally happier and exhibit fewer aggressive behaviors.

Improved Diet

Free-ranging chickens have access to a more varied diet, including insects, worms, and greenery. This helps improve the nutritional balance of their diet, leading to healthier chickens and better quality eggs.

Exercise and Muscle Development

Chickens that have the opportunity to roam outside will get more exercise, which helps build stronger muscles and promotes overall well-being. Outdoor exercise can also help prevent obesity and its related health issues in your flock.

Maintaining Good Coop Hygiene

As your chickens begin to spend more time outdoors, maintaining a clean and hygienic coop becomes even more critical. A clean coop helps prevent parasites, bacteria, and diseases from impacting the health of your flock, so make sure you stay on top of this chore.

  • Regularly clean and replace bedding
  • Remove droppings daily
  • Disinfect and deep clean the coop periodically
  • Monitor for signs of pests and treat accordingly

By carefully considering your chickens’ development stage, preparing a suitable outdoor environment, and taking steps to make the transition as smooth as possible, you can ensure that your flock has a positive experience as they begin to explore the great outdoors. Remember, happy and healthy chickens make for a happy and proud chicken keeper!

Helping Your Chickens Go Back Inside

At the end of the day, your chickens will appreciate a little help getting back into their coop. You can use a few simple techniques to encourage them to return to their safe and comfortable haven each evening:

Training with Treats

One way to coax your chickens back into their coop is by using treats. Reward them with their favorite treats, such as mealworms or sunflower seeds, when they enter the coop. Over time, this positive reinforcement will make them more likely to return on their own at dusk.

Instinct and Routine

Chickens have a natural instinct to roost in a safe place as the sun goes down. By providing comfortable roosting bars and a secure, well-lit coop, you encourage this instinct. As chickens thrive on routine, making a habit of guiding them back inside each night will create a positive pattern they’re more likely to follow over time.

Monitoring Your Chickens’ Health

As your chickens begin to explore their outdoor surroundings, it’s essential to monitor their health closely. Make a habit of performing regular health checks to identify any issues early on:

Feather Inspection

Keep an eye on your chickens’ feathers and watch for signs of disease or infestation, such as feather loss or broken feathers. Check for red or irritated skin, which may indicate the presence of external parasites like mites or lice.

Weight Maintenance

Regularly weigh your chickens, and compare their weights to established breed standards. Significant weight loss or gain could signal a health issue that requires further investigation.

Appetite and Thirst

Take note of any changes in your chickens’ eating and drinking habits. A decrease in appetite or water consumption could be a sign of illness or stress. Likewise, if you notice that a particular bird is consistently hungrier or thirstier than the rest, it’s worth investigating.

General Mood and Activity Levels

Pay close attention to your chickens’ general mood and behavior. Healthy and happy chickens are generally curious, active, and friendly. Unusual behaviors, lethargy, or visible discomfort may signal a health problem.

Adapting to Seasonal Changes

As the seasons change, your outdoor chickens will face varying climate conditions. It’s crucial to adjust their care and accommodations to keep them comfortable and healthy throughout the year:

Spring and Fall

During these transition seasons, weather conditions can fluctuate significantly. Be prepared to make adjustments to your coop environment, such as providing extra insulation or adjusting ventilation as needed.


Hot weather can cause chickens to overheat, leading to heat stress and potential health issues. Ensure they have access to shade, make sure water is available at all times, and add electrolytes to their water if needed. Regularly clean and air out your coop throughout the season to minimize potential bacteria and pest growth.


Take steps to keep your chickens warm and dry during the colder months. Insulate the coop, add extra bedding for warmth, and consider installing a heat source if temperatures are extreme. Moreover, check for frostbite on your birds’ combs and wattles frequently.

By considering these additional factors, you’ll create an even more comprehensive and well-rounded approach to caring for your outdoor chickens. You can confidently guide your flock through their first foray into the outdoors, knowing that you’ve provided them with everything they need to thrive and enjoy their new-found freedom.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, we’ll address some common questions related to introducing your chickens to the outdoors. Our answers will provide guidance and support, making the transition process smoother for both you and your flock.

1. What if I have a mixed-age flock, can younger chickens go outside with older ones?

It’s best to wait until the younger chickens are fully feathered before letting them out with the older ones. This ensures that they are better able to regulate their body temperature and have some protection against the older birds, who may be more aggressive or dominant.

2. How do I introduce new chickens to my existing flock?

Gradually introduce new chickens to your established flock by keeping them in a separate pen within sight of the older birds for a few days. This allows both groups to become familiar with each other before allowing them to mix together in the same space.

3. How do I protect my chickens from aerial predators such as hawks?

Consider covering the top of your chicken run with netting, wire mesh, or a solid cover to prevent aerial attacks from birds of prey. Providing additional hiding spots, such as bushes and structures, can also help protect your chickens from predators.

4. What temperature should it be outside before I let my chickens out?

It’s best to introduce your chickens to the outdoors when the weather is mild, without extreme heat or cold. Ideally, temperatures should be between 50°F (10°C) and 80°F (27°C) for them to be comfortable and safe.

5. How do I keep my chickens cool during hot summer months?

Provide your chickens with plenty of shade, using natural or artificial sources like trees, shade cloths, and wooden structures. Ensure fresh and clean water is available at all times, and consider adding electrolytes to their water to help them stay hydrated.

6. How can I help my chickens get used to me?

Spend time with your chickens in their outdoor space, especially during their first few weeks. Be gentle and patient, offering treats to reinforce positive associations. Over time, your chickens will become more familiar and comfortable with your presence.

7. What should I feed my chickens when they go outside?

Continuing to provide a balanced feed diet is essential. In addition, allowing your chickens to forage for insects, worms, and greenery supplements their diet with additional nutrients and helps enhance their overall well-being.

8. Do my chickens need a dust bath in their outdoor space?

Providing a dust bath for your chickens is beneficial, as it helps them maintain their feather health and ward off external parasites. It can be as simple as a designated area with loose soil, fine sand, or a mix of both.

9. How do I control pests in an outdoor coop?

Keep the coop clean by regularly removing droppings, cleaning and replacing bedding, and performing periodic deep cleans. Monitor your flock for signs of infestation, such as feather loss or irritated skin, and treat accordingly with appropriate medication or pesticide.

10. Can my chickens stay outside during the winter?

Chickens can tolerate cold temperatures if their coop is properly winterized. Insulate your coop, add extra bedding, consider installing a heat source for extreme cold, and check for frostbite on your chickens’ combs and wattles.

11. How do I get my chickens back inside the coop at night?

Train your chickens to return to the coop using treats and by following a consistent routine. As the sun goes down, guide your chickens back to their coop and reward them with a treat for returning inside.

12. Can my chickens free-range all day, or should I limit their outdoor time?

Allowing your chickens to free-range throughout the day gives them the opportunity to exercise, explore, and forage for a diverse diet. However, it’s essential to ensure their outdoor environment is safe and secure from predators, pests, and any harmful elements.

13. How do I recognize signs that my chickens are not adjusting well to the outdoors?

Observe your chickens closely for any unusual behaviors, such as lethargy, aggression, or signs of stress. Additionally, monitor their physical health for signs of illness, parasites or weight changes. Taking prompt action can help address any issues and ensure their well-being.

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