I've been brooding 6 chicks in the outdoor chicken coop in a makeshift pen with an ecobrooder for heat. They are three weeks old and don't use the brooder anymore even though our temps are down to freezing or near it most nights. They are feathered in and loving life. I keep the side of the pen open now that everybody is aquainted and the chicks run in and out of the pen all day long. They're fat and healthy, and very normal chicks. I felt better about not using a heat lamp in my coop mostly due to fire hazard from those awful things. The chicks started in the coop after the first 24 hours in an indoor brooder box with the eco brooder. They acclimated to the outside temps and seemed to feather in faster.
I have two chicks going out to the outdoor coop tomorrow, with their eco brooder and I expect they will do just as well. For now they are in a brooder box in front of a southeast facing window. The only time they are under the ecobrooder is when they sleep. They are about two and a half weeks old and are feathering out nicely.
My youngest two are just in their first 24 hours home, and have their ecobrooder in a separate brooder box but in the same window. So far, they are happy, and just chirp softly.
I brooded three other batches of chicks using a heat lamp, and they were so dependent on it that I didn't dare not have it on right up until they were 6 weeks old. It always freaked me out that a fire could so easily start, and I wondered how a mama hen could brood chicks out in a chicken coop or barn and still be able to leave them to eat and drink and stretch her legs. It makes more sense now that I see how a more natural set up works so much better. The chicks use the ecobrooders like a mama hen, only scrambling beneath it to warm up and to sleep. Otherwise, they would rather be running around like maniacs.
Edited by teria - 3/25/16 at 9:33pm