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Time to move 'em out?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

I know this is a frequent topic of discussion but was hoping for some personalized advice. We live in southern VT, where spring is just arriving (after the winter that never was)...we have four chicks who are six weeks old. All but one are fully feathered on their heads and necks (the fourth has a few pin feathers still) and they all seem to have super fluffy bottoms (when they go outside during the day to play and the wind blows, the feathers fluff up like mad!).


They will be moving to an A-frame coop/run structure that is finally finished and fully predator-proof (hardware cloth everywhere, including the bottom).


They have been living in a room in our basement, in two big cardboard boxes attached to each other by a door. Heat lamp has been gone for about a week and we use a 100-watt light to give them some extra bright light during the day. Lights off at night and it is probably about 60-65 degrees in there at night.


The high/low temps here for the next week or so are as follows:


Thurs 79/52

Fri 66/48

Sat 72/43

Sun 48/37

Mon 54/37 (with a little snowflake symbol?! ***?)

Tues 64/46


The coop is in the garage right now and we could put a tarp under it and throw some pine shavings in and move the chicks out there until it's a little warmer, but I'm not sure if I'm babying them too much. We could also run an extension cord and lamp out to the coop though the weather looks a bit wet for me to be totally comfortable with that plan.


Thoughts? Advice much appreciated!!



post #2 of 8
I don’t know how much wind protection your coop/run offers. At six weeks they should be able to handle those temperatures as long as they can get out of the wind at night. You have at least been taking them outside so they are somewhat acclimated. I’d certainly avoid an extension cord. You don’t need to do that.

I understand it’s a bit difficult to take some stranger’s word for it with those precious chicks. I really think they will be OK out there now as long as they have wind protection, but it might help your confidence if you move them to the garage for a while. Just because they can handle it doesn’t mean they have to. As long as they are not in your house making a mess, it won’t hurt them to delay going out. Moving them into the coop in the garage will certainly give them a lot more room and it might help your stress level.

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith


When you come to a fork in the road, take it.


"If you make every game a life-and-death proposition, you're going to have problems. For one thing, you'll be dead a lot." — former North Carolina coach Dean Smith

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
I think we will put them outside with the backup plan of brooder setup in garage if need be. I know they'd be much happier outside!!!
post #4 of 8

Be aware that the principle of chicks needing heat is simply to replace body heat lost due to lack of insulating feathers. As chicks grow in feathers over a four-week period their heat loss becomes less and less each week, until finally, a fully feathered body is able to retain body heat splendidly and efficiently as long as the chick is eating well to stoke the "furnace".


This is why it's best all around to raise chicks in a cool environment with just enough heat to replace that which is lost due to lack of feathering. Once feathering is completed, the chicks no longer need heat of any kind except for a good diet and to be kept dry and out of cold drafts.


It becomes a bit more complicated if chicks are kept under heat past the point of being completely feathered out. That necessitates acclimatizing, a gradual cooling of the environment, to avoid an abrupt and drastic temperature change. So, depending on how long your chicks have been used to living under one temperature, and the the difference between that and how cool it is where they will be moving, you may need to expose them gradually to those cooler temps before they take up permanent residence in the cooler environment.

post #5 of 8

It does seem like the weather is naturally offering a gradual change over the next week, that's nice!


Does your a-frame require a ladder to get to the coop? My chicks are a bit younger than yours but they haven't figured out the ladder so I put their brooder box in the coop and just opened it on one side. A simple cardboard box that fits them all and has some shavings would do. They huddle in there at night, there is a heat lamp but it is about 18" from where they are huddling and I think they get most of their warmth from each other (or they'd move themselves right under the heat lamp). I have two girls still not fully feathered and they've been outside this way for 6 nights, lows in the 50's. Since yours are fully feathered I wouldn't worry about a lamp; just a box for huddling to help with heat retention and wind protection.


I'm not experienced with cold climate conditions but a snowflake to me means cold moisture that may cause everything to frost over, with or without an actual dusting of snow. Under those conditions I'd tarp the coop to prevent frost from forming on and around my birds.

post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
The girls are out any my husband and I already discussed a huddle box setup as well as wrapping the coop with a tarp, and bringing them back in if we think it's too cold!!

So far they are in heaven:

I'm not sure what they will do about the ladder, but hope they will be adventurous!

Thanks for the advice smile.png
post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Happy to say the chickies have been doing well in their new digs. While they are starting to understand how to climb up and down the ladder we are still having to help them (sometimes just sticking one chick through the hole, and the rest figure it out) though they all climbed up after their leader went up last night and started cheeping angrily at them ;)


While we had some pretty cold temps over the weekend (and scattered snow flurries!) they were fine. We wrapped a tarp around the loft as best we could and made sure the rain couldn't get in through the top. My husband attached a sheet metal cap to the top today so further rainstorms shouldn't soak the inside of the loft.


Thanks for your help!



post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 

They did it on their own!! Yay chicks!
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