Originally Posted by Dani4Hedgies
While we are on the discussion of chicks raising im losing my mind trying to figure out what my chicks need to be in once they are feathered up at 8 wks? As that will be the end of Jan and we are sure to have several feet of snow on the ground? Orginally I was going to move them down to our heated garage but it doesnt get any light so I'm wondering if it would be better to move them into our unheated garage which gets tons of light and that has a door that could have a chicken door added to it to allow them to go out of it and into their chicken run and back as they pleased. I could definitely put a small heater or even just use the brooder light since it does have electricity. And if I did this would they actually need a coop or just a nest boxes and roost feeding and watering stations. Also how much room would they need for 16 ?Thank you
I'll try to answer some of your questions. If you don't have a coop to use when the birds are grown I suggest you work on that now and have it ready so you don't have to deal with that in the middle of winter. You need a minimum of 2 square feet of floor space for each hen in a coop plus plenty of outside room. Always have much more than you need, simply because you will most likely add more in time. Better to plan larger than smaller. A 6 X 8 or 8 X 8 foot shed works really well for a chicken coop/ hen house for small flocks. If you plan to keep them penned later I'd allow at least 4 times that amount of space for a pen. Unfortunately I don't have that much room for all of mine right now but eventually I hope to.
I think your unheated garage would work better. You need to avoid drafts as much as possible, but you also need plenty of ventilation. A closed air tight area is more dangerous than cold weather.
In an area like a garage you need a brooder guard which can be as simple as a 10 " high piece of cardboard to surround the chicks while they are small. Anything to keep them somewhat contained and to break floor drafts. You'll need at least 2 inches and preferably about 4 inches of shavings to keep them warm from underneath. As they age you can slowly raise the guard to let them move in and out to control their heat themselves. Like maybe set it on bricks or something to allow them to go under it. By 3-4 weeks you can probably remove the guard all together. If you are using a heat lamp be sure to set it up so you can raise it or lower it bit by bit cause you will want to adjust it to their size and needs.
As far as using your garage as a coop that is up to you. I think if you can afford to do so, I'd opt to build a coop with a wooden raised floor for their permanent home, but they will do fine in a garage if that is what you want to do. People used to raise chicks on the ground all the time. Problems with that are rodents and snakes are more likely to get in.
You can make your own nest boxes or buy them. For 16 birds I would have at least 4 nest boxes. They don't need a nest box for each because they often all lay in the same box. Roosts should be at least a 2 X4 set with the wide side as the roost part. I recommend that they are between 12 inches and 2 feet high at most. Jumping off roosts can cause bumble foot and other leg and foot problems.
I almost always start my chicks in really big rubbermaid bins. Like the 40-50 gallon size. I can control the heat easily and avoid drafts in those. I always put a board in for the waterers. I have found that a small piece of the composite decking works really well for that. It doesn't mold like wood does or hold moisture. If you don't raise the waterers you will end up with shavings in your water and wet bedding. It's also a good idea for the first week or two to add marbles or something to the waterers so they chicks don't accidentally drown themselves.
I'd also recommend some Sav-a-chick for shipped chicks. If you don't get any it's wise to add just a little sugar, salt, and vitamins. Poly vi sol baby vitamins without iron work well if you don't have access to chicken vitamins. Usually around 4 days after they arrive they will show their stress of being shipped by getting pasty butt. You need to get that off of there or they will die. I have found the best way to deal with pasty butt is to just pull it off gently. Don't try washing it cause it might chill the chick.
This is just some stuff to get you started. Feel free to ask any questions you have and we will all try to help.