Chicks that are being brought up by their mother hen will usually be out and about from just a few days old. She will take them out and show them how to peck for bugs and grass at a very young age and she may not be very careful about it (watching a mother hen and her chicks you will sometimes see her doing things that are ‘wrong’ such as leaving a chick behind, or leading them over wet grass).
For us human mother hens it is usually advisable not to be quite so slap dash about it. Chicks can enjoy being outside but they will need to be kept safe which means :
- A warm day which is dry underfoot – it is not good for chicks to get cold and wet and they need to be warm enough, very young chicks more so than the older ones. If they were out with their mother hen they could get under her feathers whenever they wanted to but you will need to watch them closely to check that they are happy and enjoying themselves. If they are chirping loudly then they probably want to go back in.
- A pen they can safely explore the world from – a secure pen, or dog crate etc. which can protect them from any predators (which may include your own pets). Even so, do not leave them unattended.
- Chick grit – their formulated chick feed doesn’t need anything extra but for anything else they might eat (bugs, grass etc.) they will need to have grit available to help them process it.
- Shade and water – they will need constant access to water whilst outside, and an area that is shaded from the sun and protected from the wind.