I was wondering if I incubate some eggs now how long would it be till they are old enough to take the winter temps? Or at least survive in a draft free building with just a heat lamp? I live in northern Illinois, they would hatch buy the end of October. I need more egg layers and meat in the freezer asap and don't want to wait till spring to hatch again but am a little limited on indoor space. So if I have an idea on how long I can get an idea on how many to hatch. Thanks, stew
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My 3’ x 6’ brooder is a permanent addition to the coop. The top of the brooder is my droppings board but the sides and bottom are made of hardware cloth. In the heat of summer I leave it pretty open, blocking off underneath to keep the hens from laying under there and with bins to catch the poop. In the winter I wrap it really well with 3 mil plastic and put a piece of plywood or cardboard on the floor to trap the heat.
I only heat one end. That end stays pretty toasty but the far end may have ice in it when it gets really cold out. The food and water stay on the warmer end. Even straight out of the incubator the chicks are pretty good about self-regulating, they pick spots that are warm enough for them. I’ve put chicks in there when the outside temperature was below freezing.
One of the problems with brooding outside is that you have to deal with fluctuating temperatures. Days might get pretty warm but nights pretty cold. By having a large brooder and letting the temperature vary across it, all I have to do is keep one end warm enough. If it gets too warm, they move further away. I don’t have to worry about adjusting the temperature.
When they are exposed to colder temperatures like this they acclimate faster than chicks raised indoors in tropical conditions. They feather out faster and just get used to dealing with cooler temps. I’ve had chicks raised this way go through overnight lows below freezing with no supplemental heat in my grow-out coop before they were six weeks old. My below-freezing was mid 20’s, not sub-zero. You might want to play that a bit by ear, but they really can handle cold weather once they feather out. In the right set-up, you can keep heat on for as long as you wish. They just need room to get away from it if it gets too warm for them.
So my answer to you is that you can move them out whenever you feel you can keep an area warm enough for them.
There you go. Ridgerunner has laid it all out, but to summarize, chicks are hardy little critters, are able to self regulate their heat needs as long as you provide plenty of space and variation of temperature.
Raised outside in a coop in this manner, chicks feather out rather quickly and are very cold hardy from that point on.
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thanks guys, I think I will keep them in my garage with the wood burner going for a week or 2 and then let them just have the heat bulb for a few weeks then move them to the grow out pen with a heat bulb. How many chicks ya think per heat bulb? Ya might think im a little nutts but I plan on hatching around 100. I hatched about 85 last time and only have 1 or 2 birds in the freezer now and am always short on eggs to sell. I had about a 50/50 cock to hen hatch last time. I sold 20 roos to coworkers in 2 days and they were asking for more. The hole thing started to be just for my family but is kind of snow balling. I can bet every ones prices cause I only pay around $100 to $150 a ton of feed. I get all of it free other than the base mix and oyster shell. I have a hammer mill I use to mix my own feed that saves me about $350 a ton. I thought about buying some Cornish x but decided I would loose money, hatching my own eggs is way cheaper than the price of buying. Yeah I use a little more feed but at 7.5 cent a pound I can get a bird to butcher weight at the price it cost to just buy a Cornish x. I do use store bought chick feed the first month yet but I would have that with any breed. Thanks again