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4 week olds and moving outdoor help-and other help!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by whiskeybanjo, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. whiskeybanjo

    whiskeybanjo Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2015
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    Hello! First time poster, long time reader...

    We recently got our first flock of chicks--two Rhode island reds, a Plymouth rock, and an easter egger. They are not quite 4 weeks old. They still live inside our house in our brooder box with a heat lamp about 8 inches above the box.

    Three are feathering in nicely--the plymouth is a little smaller and fuzzier at this point.

    I've read a lot online about acclimating them to outdoor temps, but I'm probably more confused than I was before. Do I stop with the light at some point? Turn it off at night? move them to a garage? ...

    Having fall chicks and living in the midwest (central indiana), I definitely don't want them outside too soon.

    I've read that it's good to have fall chicks because they feather in better than spring chicks and they're ready to lay by spring.

    But, how do I get them outside? Current temps are around 55-65 daytime and 40s at night--so too cold.

    Also, we have a chicken tractor--will it be warm enough for them in the winter? Will they get bored being cooped (ha) up? We also have an old shed that I could convert into a coop. It's large and I was thinking it would be easier for us to access/clean and perhaps winterize? Or is the coop fine if I tarp it (with ventilation) and perhaps put hay bales around the exterior?

    Our local feed store/chicken supplier says that people worry too much about chickens in the winter--that they're made for it. They said that I could move them outside about 5 weeks--but it's pretty chilly here. But now, having 4 cool little chickens, am also worried about them. (They also said that chick starter was only necessary for two weeks? But, I'm keeping them on it for a while longer...)

    Thanks for any/all advice!!!!
     
  2. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    It's likely warm in your house so I'd lose the heat lamp now. After a couple days move them to the garage. You can give them heat out there as long as they have plenty of space to avoid the heat. If you provide it, don't turn it off at night, that's when they would need it most.

    Your supplier is right about people worrying too much about winter. They go to bed wearing a down coat not negligees.

    I brood mine outside all the time regardless of weather. I provide 2 heat sources in the form of ceramic heat emitters and plenty of cool space. 2 heat sources in case one goes out during the night.
     
  3. whiskeybanjo

    whiskeybanjo Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2015
    Indiana
    Thanks for the advice! I hadn't thought of a ceramic heater... I'll start to get them ready for the move. :)
     
  4. Hholly

    Hholly Chillin' With My Peeps

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  5. whiskeybanjo

    whiskeybanjo Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2015
    Indiana
    Thanks Hholly!!! I'll come by and check it out!
     
  6. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Chicken Obsessed

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    They come in all sorts of wattages from 50 to 350.
    http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=ceramic emitter&ssPageName=GSTL
    They last longer than glass infrared lamps, less mess if they do break because they just crack around the neck. Most importantly, you can give the birds hemeral lighting while still providing heat. I like to give chicks 8 hours of darkness after the 3rd or 4th day.
    The downside is you can't tell they're on by looking at them you have to feel for heat or have a thermometer which I usually don't use.
     
  7. ChickenMammX4

    ChickenMammX4 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    This past spring we moved our chicks out to the coop when they were almost 4 weeks (born 3/11, moving day 4/4), temps during the day 50-60F, nights low 40s. They were dry, out of the wind with no added heat and they did fine. We turned off the heat lamp after about 2 weeks and started taking them out on sunny days at around 3 weeks.
     
  8. whiskeybanjo

    whiskeybanjo Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2015
    Indiana
    Great info ChickenMammX4! We're supposed to have some really nice weather this next week (high 70s and low 50s) so I'll let them explore a bit and perhaps move them on out! They're getting pretty antsy in the brooder box!
     
  9. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    My Coop
    Ditto Dat^^^

    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker integration to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later i still use it but more out of curiosity than need.


    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!


    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.

    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate


    I'd go for the shed as a coop if at all possible....more room makes most everything easier.
    Check out the link in my signature to a great article about Ventilation.


    Lots of options for feeding.

    My Feeding Notes: I like to feed a 'flock raiser' 20% protein crumble to all ages and genders, as non-layers(chicks, males and molting birds) do not need the extra calcium that is in layer feed and chicks and molters can use the extra protein. Makes life much simpler to store and distribute one type of chow that everyone can eat.

    The higher protein crumble also offsets the 8% protein scratch grains and other kitchen/garden scraps I like to offer. I adjust the amounts of other feeds to get the protein levels desired with varying situations.

    Calcium should be available at all times for the layers, I use oyster shell mixed with rinsed, dried, crushed chicken egg shells in a separate container.

    Animal protein (mealworms, a little cheese - beware the salt content, meat scraps) is provided during molting and if I see any feather eating.
     
  10. whiskeybanjo

    whiskeybanjo Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 28, 2015
    Indiana
    Fantastic information! Thank you so much!!!
     

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