I've tried to gather information from other posts, but wanted to clarify the best plan of action for my chicks to move outdoors to their coop in the coming weeks. Our lows are in the 30s, highs anywhere from mid 40s to 60s. We are in North Carolina. Our coop is a hybrid run/coop (and we plan to expand the run in the coming months as they get bigger), with that being said, there is not wind protection unless they climb to a roosting bar, which I think is too high at their young age. I've attached a picture of the coop. (Before the chicks go out unattended we will be nailing trim to the top of the hardware cloth so that no predator can try and sneak between the cloth and plywood)
They are 4 weeks and 1 day. Do I wait to start weaning them from the heat lamp at 6 weeks when fully feathered? Or do I start to wean them now? They moved from the house (65-70 degrees) with heat lamp to the unheated garage with heat lamp last night. They seemed fine this morning, but they were sleeping close together under the lamp. It got down to the 30s outside last night. I also put them outside in the coop for about an hour today for the first time. It was 66 outside and sunny. They seemed a little scared and possibly a little cold. These are our first chickens. The breeds are Orpingtons, Easter Eggers, and 1 Silkie (who is always hiding and warming under someone). Any thoughts for a safe and proper exit strategy?