1st time chick parent

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by DonnaMarg, Apr 6, 2011.

  1. DonnaMarg

    DonnaMarg Hatching

    Apr 4, 2011
    we are raising chicks for the first time and have a few questions. First when is the right time to put the chicks out in the coop. They are three weeks old and trying to escape the box they are in. In the coop the next boxes are four foot off the ground and we are wondering how to give the chickens access to them. Do they need a ladder or will they fly there on their own. [​IMG]
    As you can see we are in need of help. Thanks so much for any light you can shed on these questions.

  2. mcjessen

    mcjessen Songster

    Mar 22, 2011
    Coeur d Alene ID
    Do you have a coop and run for them? Can you describe the set up? Typically you want to wait until your chicks are completely feathered out. Another rule of thumb is that the outside temperature and brooder temperature should be the same. I'm not sure where you are located but I'd be careful about night time temperatures too. If they are only three weeks old and you have to move them, I'd provide some sort of warmth to combat overnight temps.

    Most people build their coops so the chickens can access the nest boxes from the inside of the coop. They provide a pop door with a ramp for the chickens to access the coop. Look through the coop designs on this website for nest box and coop set ups. I hope that helps.

    My week old chicks are trying to escape their brooder at the moment and we are moving them to a larger brooder tonight. I am probably going to wait until they are at least six weeks old before I move them to their coop outside. But, we are in N. Idaho and the low this morning was 30. Way too cold for babies.
  3. AKsmama

    AKsmama Songster

    Jun 20, 2010
    South Carolina

    They can't be without a heat source until they are fully feathered, unless where you live is extremely warm all the time at this time of year. I did put my chicks out in the coop when they were 3-4 weeks old last year, but it was August and I live in South Carolina, so it was plenty warm enough even in the middle of the night. I'd be cautious using a heat source in a coop- the last thing you want is to unintentionally start a fire. But I also know how rambunctious 3-week-old chicks can be, and that's the age when they really begin trying to fly and need more room than a brooder provides.

    As far as the nest boxes go, it's up to you if you use a ladder or not. We have ladders for the roosts and nest boxes, but the nest boxes have a rail they can fly up to and walk on so they can choose their box. Most of the time my girls just fly up to the rail. You have some time to decide since they won't need the boxes for a few months. Don't let them get in the habit of sleeping in the boxes now or you will constantly have dirty, poopy eggs.
  4. Nicole01

    Nicole01 Crowing

    Mar 28, 2011
    I have to put my chicks in an enclosed brooder. I have cats and dogs in the house. I'm not sure if my golden retriever would eat a bird or not. I know for sure the cats would. Right now I'm using an extra large dog kennel.

    As mentioned above, the chickens need a ramp to climb up to the coop. [​IMG]
  5. Pele

    Pele Songster

    Feb 25, 2011
    Actually, at 4 weeks, I had a new batch of chickens coming in and my first batch was outgrowing the brooder already. In order to protect the little ones and give the big chicks more space, I went out and bought a guinuea pig cage [​IMG]. The wire flooring makes cleanup nice and easy, and the big girls enjoy not being directly under the hot light, and all their new space.

    The especially cool part about it is that I was able to face their wire to the brooder's wire, so that all the chicks could get a good look at each other. Hopefully that'll help cut down on squabbling when it comes time to throw them all in the coop together!

  6. FMAFarms

    FMAFarms Songster

    Feb 20, 2011
    Rural Michigan
    Chicks will usually start to try to jump out of their brooder at about one to two weeks of age. You can choose to move them to a bigger brooder at that point, or to cover their brooder with a hardware mesh screen (1/2 inch mesh, not one inch!). Today, one of my week old Marans poked her little head above her brooder, which is just a galvanized wash tub, one foot high. She was standing on the bunny I'd given her for company. I took the bunny away because now she has three more Marans for company and because I don't want her hopping out just yet!

    You'll want to put your nestboxes and your roosts at a height good for the breed of chicken you have. Some heavy breeds, like Cochins, would become Cochin pancakes trying to get to roosts higher than a a foot off the ground. Other breeds, like Seabrights and Old English Game, will fly as high as you can imagine (they'd happily roost in trees). You need to find a happy medium between what is good for your chickens and what is not inconvenient for you.

    As for putting them outside, eight weeks is really the earliest and only, as PPs have said, when fully feathered. If you live in a temperate or cool climate, you will want a heat source in your coop to bring the ambient temp to about 72 degrees for them... and you'll want to maintain that temperature year round. If you're in a warmer climate, you'll want lots of additional ventilation for your coop to keep it from becoming a chicken roaster. Either way, make sure there's LOTS LOTS LOTS of water for them to drink. And as a PP noted, you'll need a pop door and ramp for your chickens to allow them access to their run. And make sure that pop door latches up firmly and securely, so that raccoons don't help themselves to a free chicken dinner!

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