4 week old chickens - when to leave the coop? 35 to 50 degrees

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by swalker57, Jan 16, 2017.

  1. swalker57

    swalker57 New Egg

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    I have two Orpington chicks that are 4 weeks old. They were hatched in the coop and the mother did a great job keeping them warm for a week or so, but they would stay under her. Then we put up a heat lamp in the coop attached to the ceiling and we used a chick warming pad under where they were laying. This worked out very well and they have been very active. I had to construct a small 15 inch wire fence to keep them from going near the opening the other chickens use to enter the coop at the other end. This also worked very well until just a few days ago. Now when I go out to check them in the morning, they are on the other side of the fence. I don't know how they do it, but they do it every night. I move them back and they stay there all day while the small door is open.

    So, it is a wide range of temperatures here in the mid Atlantic. I want to start letting them outside into their run, but at what temperature should I do that? They have feathers but are not completely feathered out yet. Because they have been in the coop since day one, the rest of the flock has completely accepted them and there are no worries there. Also, our coop is raised about 30 inches and the birds use a ramp to get into the coop.


    Any suggestions? Thanks for your help.
     
  2. Pork Pie Ken

    Pork Pie Ken Monkey Business Premium Member

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    Did the mother abandon the chicks? It's always best to let the mother hen make the decisions regarding the well-being of her chicks.

    Maybe providing a gradual reduction in temperatures would be a good way to go. Reduce the temperatures by increasing the distance between heat source and chicks.
     
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    I don’t know what’s going on with that broody hen right now, if she has totally weaned them or is still trying to take care of them. Normally a broody hen will keep her chicks warm until they no longer need it. I’ve had hens in the middle of summer wean their chicks at three weeks. Sometimes though it goes a lot longer, even in the heat of summer. In cooler weather it usually takes longer. You interfered with that process when you started providing heat. Typically the chicks stay under the hen a lot during the first few days but as they get older they spend more and more time out from under her, only going back to her to warm up when they need to. Many people are surprised at how long they can stay out even in pretty cold weather.

    I’ve seen two week old chicks fly two feet vertically and three feet horizontally when a Mama hen told them to. At four weeks your chicks can clear that 15” fence with no problem if they want to. I don’t know why yours don’t want out during the day but want to sleep elsewhere at night. With your heat lamp and heating pad I don’t know how warm it is in different parts of your coop and I don’t know how big your coop is. Evidently where they are sleeping is warm enough.

    Your situation in providing heat for them is so foreign to me it’s hard to offer much advice with a lot of confidence. Normally chicks 4 to 5 weeks old have feathered out sufficiently that they can do quite well in temperatures that seem really cold to us. The feather out fast when they are exposed to cold.

    But what has happened has happened and you need to go forward from this point. I don’t know what temperatures you are having now or for the next week. I’d turn that heat lamp off now, it’s highly unlikely they need it. I’d leave that heating pad going so they have a warm spot to go to if they want it and see if they use it. That might give you a clue as to how much they need it.

    You can try keeping them behind that fence for a while longer but if they want to go outside I’d let them. They should know where the heat is if they need it. One thing I would be careful of. With my elevated grow-out coop the chicks normally don’t go back inside at night to sleep, instead they go to bed just under the pop door. I think it would be a really good idea for you to be out there at dark to put them back in the coop if they don’t go in by themselves. When it gets dark out there they are usually really easy to catch. If you have lights so it doesn’t get dark that can be more challenging.

    I think it is great that you raised them in the coop so the other chickens don’t bother them. The chicks may still be afraid of the adults because of pecking order issues, but integration was very successful. Good luck on the rest.
     

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