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Outgrowing brooder space - Page 2

post #11 of 18

I moved my first batch outside last year on April 1st.  They were 5.5 weeks old and I was over them being inside.  So I evicted them to a yet unfinished coop.  First night, had a heat lamp in there for them but every time I crawled out of my nice warm bed (and it was often, believe me) to check on them they were cuddled in a warm pile near the pop door - nowhere near the heat.  It was 20 degrees and still dropping when I finally collapsed from exhaustion and went to sleep.  Next morning they were just fine.  Same thing the second night, except I only got up once.  Third night the heat lamp came out and it snowed.  And snowed.  It snowed off and on until June 6th.  In the meantime they just kept growing and thriving.  So I started re-thinking the conventional wisdom of this temp for a week, then that temp for another week.....and keeping them in the house until they laid their first eggs in the brooder.  

 

Now I brood outside from the start, and it doesn't matter what the temps are out there.  As long as they have their heating pad cave they are just fine.  (Like @azygous I was happy to see that you used that system.)  By 4 weeks old and with temps up to the 30s, they were already totally integrated with the rest of the flock, no longer using the cave or the pad.  We need to take care of them, absolutely, but they are not the delicate little divas we sometimes think they are.  They are tougher than they look, and they actually do better with regular day/night cycles and regulating their own temperature needs.  Remember that by this age they all wouldn't fit under Mama Hen anymore either...she'd be teaching them to roost.  So take the cave system and rig it outdoors.  It'll work just as well there.  Here are some ideas to help you figure out how to rig that.  You can probably turn the heat way down on the pad, even outside, and they may use it more for familiarity than warmth at first, but they'll be really happy to have space to explore! You've got this!!  ;)

 

http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

post #12 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi, thank you for your comment. On the size of my coop/run, I built it to accommodate 6 hens - max. I was 'sold' into buying two more chicks than I originally planned on. But that's okay because so far I have two boys which I will not be keeping. And there still the possibility of another boy in the mix, all of which will find new homes if they don't become dinner instead.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Hi AART - I took your advice on the 'huddle box' and downsized a large box to what I think will suit 8 birds.  I will not have 8 birds when all is said an done because, so far, I have two boys which will be re-homed, if not become dinner. I put my thermometer in the hen  house yesterday and this morning it's  28 degrees in there. It will warm up when the sun begins shining on the coop roof.  Yesterday it got up to 50 inside the hen house, about the day's overall hi-temp.  I cannot, however, put the huddle box in the current brooder to get them used to it as there just isn't room for it. 


Edited by Bs Peeps - 11/22/15 at 9:06am
post #14 of 18
Thread Starter 

Yes, I am considering opening the window, just a crack. For two reasons: acclimating to cooler temps, but also for air exchange. Since closing the heat register to that room, which is closed off from the rest of the house, I notice the air in that room is more stale and odiferous.  Not good for the birds, or me.

post #15 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you, everyone, for your kind sharing of your experiences and suggestions. I have created, in my head, a comfortable solution to a heat source in my hen house. I'm thinking of a clay pot, inside which will be a light bulb sufficient to produce the desired heat; suspended/mounted from a shelf/support with a cut out to support the pot by it's rim; topped with a sufficiently safe medium through which the electric cord and socket can be mounted and which the birds cannot dislodge. It's a start - in my head. ;)
Also, I plan to make some modifications for additional ventilation. Thanks again.


Edited by Bs Peeps - 11/22/15 at 9:08am
post #16 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bs Peeps View Post
 

Hi AART - I took your advice on the 'huddle box' and downsized a large box to what I think will suit 8 birds.  I will not have 8 birds when all is said an done because, so far, I have two boys which will be re-homed, if not become dinner. I put my thermometer in the hen  house yesterday and this morning it's  28 degrees in there. It will warm up when the sun begins shining on the coop roof.  Yesterday it got up to 50 inside the hen house, about the day's overall hi-temp.  I cannot, however, put the huddle box in the current brooder to get them used to it as there just isn't room for it. 

You might use the huddle box to transfer them out ot the coop for a few hours during the warmest part of the days.....then one day just leave them out there.

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply

Great article on VENTILATION, one of THE MOST IMPORTANT aspects of coop design.

Fantastic treatise to help decide how much SPACE your chickens need.

 

Chicken math is not just 'addition'...but also should include Division, Multiplication and especially Subtraction!!!

 

Quoting centrarchid:

"Make every effort to understand your chicken's biology and the environment that supports it."

Reply
post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you Blooie. It was YOUR post on the heating pad system that gave me the confidence to do this. I wanted to skip the brooding process altogether. I have been given a number of great ideas, including your outdoor cave idea. :)

post #18 of 18
Thread Starter 

Well. We finally made the move from the crowded brooder to the hen house. Not as smooth and as organized as I'd hoped, at least not to me; but it's done. I think.
Tonight's low is expected at 26 degrees. It's 32 now, 39 in the hen house; if my bi-metal thermometer is accurate.  High today was 45 and full of sunshine. I used the opportunistic weather to introduce the birds to the hen house while I tinkered with this and that for their needs.  I made the popular DIY tin can water heater last night but I'm using it as a 'warm spot' for the hen house instead of a water heater (see the plaid tin on the right side wall of the hen house). I experimented last night with both a 60w and a 40w bulb and the tin got too hot to hold. So I inserted a 25w bulb and I could hold it. But I switched back to the 40w for tonight. Wanting to keep it away from flammable pine shavings (yes, I'm paranoid) I suspended it along the wall. I also have the suggested 'huddle box'.
I checked on the birds after first tucking in and they were huddled near the warmer instead of in the box. Can't blame them. So I 'put' each one in the box and there they remain, 3 hours later, quiet and settled. I'll check on them again in about 45 minutes and after that it's off to bed for me.  
I really appreciate all the tips that were offered.

 

 

 


Edited by Bs Peeps - 11/27/15 at 8:19pm
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