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Intro new chicks to cold

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Okay I tried to submit this post before but it didn't go through! I wanted some advice on integrating some hens into the cold weather. They are all cochins. We currently have a rooster and he's been outside for some time without any issue. However we just got some new ladies! We have two groups (and yes they are separated right now). The older ones will be 6 weeks on 12/9. The younger ones are only a week old. The daytime temp here has been between 30-45°. How long until the older ones can be outside in the coop full time? We just recently got these also. Yesterday was a nice day and I put them outside in a fenced in area for about an hour or so and they seemed to do well, but since it was only their first time ever outside I didn't want them to be out too long. Some things I've read vary greatly in the ages for having them outside. Some seem to say in another week or two I could have them outside/in the coop full time, other things say to wait until almost 15 weeks. The room that they are currently in isn't an incredibly well insulted room, so it's not like they're going from being in something 75° to 35° with no transition. I just want to make sure I'm doing this right since this is the first time!
post #2 of 4

15 weeks is insane. With more and more urban chicken owners there is more and more over protection information. Chickens can certainly be pets but they don't need to wear sweaters or be coddled. What your looking for is a fully feathered bird to go outside. Age will vary by breed and how hot you keep the brooder as to how fast they will feather out. In the spring I put chicks out at 4 weeks and as it warms up the next batch of chicks goes out at 3 weeks. As we are going into winter you do want to ensure full feathering so a later age would be recommended. 

 

An important note on weaning from brooder is to acclimate the birds by providing less heat. I do this by turning off the heat for hours at a time during the day then it's off all day then it's off completely. This is done over a week to week and half long period to acclimate them to my coldest room temperature which will be 60-65F. This year I had a garage so actually don't know the ambient temp they were acclimated to before putting outside. Might have been 50-55F. The thing to keep in mind is you can shock an animal by taking it from a 80+ degree brooder and putting outside in the elements where it is freezing at night, it needs adjustment time. The action of lowering brooder temp will also promote feather growth. This is how I get 4 week old birds out in 45F high and frost nights in spring.

 

Being winter if I had to say an age it would be 6 weeks. Seems a good age for full feather, my 4 week olds are not complete feathered and do fine but the temps are rising daily that time of year.


Edited by Egghead_Jr - 12/8/15 at 3:52am

Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.

 

-Charles Dudley Warner

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post #3 of 4

I'm betting there was a communication glitch with the 15 week thing...maybe something to do with old enough to put in with an adult rooster (breeding issues) or old enough to eat layer feed...something along those lines. 

 

Egghead had the key...acclimation!  Personally, I wouldn't take an adult bird who is used to consistent 75 degree temps and toss them out into near freezing weather.  Would they be okay?  Yeah.  But it sure would be a shock to their system (most of my flock are oldies, and oldies feel the cold worse).  So work on decreasing the temps you have them at now....even without a bulb, house temps are most likely going to be too warm to decrease temps, so can you move them to an unheated garage or outbuilding for several days (with our without a small heat source, depending on temps)...then move them outside???  Or you can (using SAFETY) add a small wattage...maybe 50w heat bulb to the coop you're moving them to for a week or so.  They can huddle under the lamp if needed while acclimating...

 

It sounds like you've mostly figured this out on your own :)

Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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Caretaker of a lovely mixed flock including: australorp, plymouth rocks, wyandotte, d'uccles, silkies, EEs, andalusian, and a few seramas, plus a golden retriever, great dane, and three cats.  I always swore that I wouldn't succumb to chicken math.  I lied.
 

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post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 
Thanks! I just want to make sure I'm doing this right. They look fully feathered. The room that they're in now is a colder room that's not well insulated and when I've had them outside for a bit they've done fine it seems. Yesterday I had them out for three hours and brought them in when it was going to be getting dark. They weren't huddling and were exploring and eating and didn't seem to be distressed from the cold, but since it has been pretty chilly at night I want to make sure I'm doing this right timing wise and not shocking them with the transition. This is the first time I've had younger chickens so the conflicting information really threw me for a loop. Our rooster is older and does great in the coop all night. I think he'd be giving me hell if I waited until 15 weeks to bring the girls into the coop. He's been deligigently watching over them. And plus he needs friends other than me. Lol He follows me everywhere and wants nothing more than for me to sit outside next to him all day!
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