Nicole. First, take a deep breath, and RELAX! They are more uncomfortable at 80* than they will be outside cuddled up together at 49* at night. Have you taken them outdoors during the day? Hopefully, the answer is yes. That's the first step when taking chicks (that have been brooded inside) outside to live.
Mama broody does not heat the entire outdoors for her babies. They run around and enjoy the current weather of the day, ducking under her protection for a quick warm up as needed. And, they need surprisingly little. By the time they are 3 weeks old, they may only duck under her at night. Some broodies kick their babies to the curb at 4 weeks, and they survive outside just fine.
Many of us have shifted to the more natural brooding with a heating pad, and do it outside. I have asthma, and aside from a few days when I have a difficult hatch, and need to make some culling decisions, my babies are outside for good by the time they are 48 hours old.
Your chicks will scream bloody murder when you first move them into the coop, and then... you'll think a bear is ripping their wings off when evening is approaching, and they have to sleep in a strange place. "Oh horrors!!!" Let them scream! They don't like change. The move and first night will go better for them if you give them a cuddle box. Make it big enough that they can all fit in comfortably. Make the door big enough that 2 can get in/out at the same time. And line it with a nice layer of hay. Set it in the darkest corner of their coop. Be sure you don't let them have access to nest boxes until they are ready to start laying. Let them keep their cuddle box for a week or so, then take it away. This will force them to start using the perches at night.
I thought you might enjoy this post from Azygous. She broods outside with a heating pad. Here's her latest update on her little chickies:
Update on the azygous four. The little show-offs went on walk-about outside the run today. These squirts are waaaay more precocious than any chicks I've had in a long while. Usually chicks hang out inside the run, not feeling brave enough to tackle the huge world outside until they're closer to five or six weeks. These guys turned three weeks today,
They spent a good long time "free-ranging" so I figured tonight was as good a time as any to move them into the coop. So I moved their MHP in and some food and water and invited the four chicks to explore the inside of their coop two hours before bedtime.
They did not freak out like last years chicks did over being in the completely strange new place, and they explored and had a good time until bedtime when I could hear them complaining 100 yards away. They needed to be shown that their cave was right there and when I stuck each one inside, they settled right down.
Edited by lazy gardener - 5/31/16 at 5:38am