Nov 15, 2018
Omaha, Nebraska

I am a BYC Rookie and I have 23 RIR chicks and they were a week old last Wednesday. I have them in a large kiddie pool (4 foot across) with 2 lamps, 2 feeders (now hanging off the floor) and 2 waterers. I just put a 3 foot wire fence (is that tall enough?) around the perimeter in preparation for when they are 8 weeks old at which time I plan to move them to their outdoor coop (my wife calls it my "Chicken Condo". I should post a picture.

My question is this: I just now have gotten them to actually come up to me and eat feed from my hand. In fact this started 2 days ago and now they seem to anticipate feed when I walk up to the pool. Now not all do this yet, but am I on schedule with them? I plan on free ranging them in the backyard and I want them to be very social with people.

Also, regarding moving them to the outdoor coop. I am in Omaha Nebraska and while we don't have extreme weather, it does get pretty cold here and we can get a good deal amount of snow. Should I wait a little longer before transferring them from my garage to the coop? If not, should I put heat lamps in the coop?

Any help for this newbie would be greatly appreciated. Oh, one more thing, is there such a thing as "treats" for chicks? In comparison to meal worms for adults.

Many thanks...
Lower your temperature in the brooder by 5 degrees each week from 95 the first week. At week 5, remove the extra heat and let them begin to get used to the cool. You will not want to shock them into the cold, so let the garage cool down or don't heat it at all. By 6-8 weeks they should be fully feathered and ready to go to the big coop. If it's really cold (below 25F), I would just close the coop and let them stay busy inside. If it warms up during the day (30 or higher), let them out to wander.

Treats for chicks can be introduced around 2 weeks of age. 2 things to pay attention to. Don't give them so many treats that they don't eat their food. Second, provide them grit so that anything they eat (vegetation etc) can be digested. Meal worms work fine for chicks once they figure out that they can eat them.

Finally, handling them often is the only way to socialize them. Using feed to coax them will work. Consistent and daily handling will go a long way. Have fun!
Thanks for mentioning where you are located. with that screen name I was expecting Ohio. Location is often important for more things than just climate. You might consider modifying your profile so that info always pops up.

How big are the holes in that fence? Can they get through? In another week they will physically be able to fly over it if they want to but usually they do not want to. Don't be totally shocked if you find one not in the brooder. Three feet should be high enough.

That looks like it is in your garage, probably attached. What kind of temperature swing do you get in there? That has a lot to do with how you heat it. In my opinion the ideal brooder has a spot warm enough in the coolest conditions and a spot cool enough in the warmest conditions. That's pretty easy to do if they are in a stable temperature but in my outdoor brooder in the coop I have gone from below freezing to in the 70's Fahrenheit in a day and a half. That is a bit more challenging.

I don't go by that drop it 5 degrees a week. I go more by the chicks. If they are as close to the heat as they can get they are cold. If they are as far from the heat as they can get they are too hot. Just you being there to take the photo can influence how they arrange themselves. Yours don't look bad. If you move the lamps so they are only over one side so the other side can cool off to a safe level you take all your stress out of it. They will determine where they want to be if given an option. In my 3'x6' brooder in the coop I heat one end. Sometimes the far end has ice in it, they stay on the toasty end. When the temps are warm, they go to the cooler far end.

We like photos. A shot of the coop and run would be interesting. It could open up possibilities. It sounds like you have electricity out there. If you really wanted to you could probably move them out there this weekend but keeping them in closer makes socializing them easier. Still it's something to keep in mind in case something happens where you need to move them.

I've had chicks go through nights with no supplemental heat when the temperatures were in the mid 20's F. These chicks were acclimated. By being in my brooder outside they were exposed to colder temperatures which helps them feather out faster. The grow-out coop where I had them had great breeze protection down low where they were but great ventilation up high so they got fresh air and moisture did not build up. Your temperatures are going to be colder than that in another month. If your coop provides good ventilation along with good breeze protection where they are and you can expose them to colder temps earlier to acclimate them there is no reason you have to wait 8 full weeks to move them out, certainly no longer.

One issue with 23 chicks I expect you to have is that they grow really fast. The older they get the bigger they will be. That pool is going to get really small pretty fast. They will not make eight weeks in it, they may not make five. That may mean moving them to the coop earlier than you plan. It may mean a bigger brooder. That is a common problem. One way to expand a brooder in a garage is to put something on the floor to protect the concrete from staining from their poop and use one or more large appliance boxes. They can be taped together for expansion.

One of the first things a broody hen does with her chicks is take them to a place where they can peck the ground. This accomplishes several things but a major one is that it gets grit into their system. After that they can eat all kinds of things you might call a treat. You might be surprised at how well they can peck things into bite sized pieces but it is a good idea for you to only give them things that are pretty small to start with. Often the hen breaks things up for them. The chicks need a balanced diet. The vast amount of their daily food intake should be chick feed. I don't give my brooder raised chicks any treats except for some dirt from the run but as long as they have grit and it is a small portion of what they eat it will not hurt them.

As far as what you can give them for treats, basically anything the adults can eat as long as it is in small pieces and they have grit. A broody hen does not go by a calendar for that. I don't think it really does them any good to have treats but as long as you don't overdo it I don't think it hurts them either.
Your chicks will surely enjoy running back and forth through the gaps in that 2X4 inch welded wire.

A little hint. Lose the whole idea of "Treats" Chicken treats are for men and women who are frustrated parents or grand parents and who are trying to cope by making their chickens their family. I will however admit that a little (say a teaspoon) parakeet or other pet bird feed widely sprinkled in the shavings will encourage you chicks to scatter their litter and keep it drier.
As others have noted the holes in that wire are too large to keep the chicks in, and chicks will start hopping/flying very well by the time they're 3 weeks old, so a cover of some sort is recommended. And due to the number of chicks yes they'll outgrow that space fast, so if the coop is already finished plan on playing it by ear when they should be moving out. I'd say once they're mostly feathered out they're good to go.

If you want to give treats mealworms are fine for chicks as well. Provide chick grit for them if you're planning to give anything other than chick crumb.
You said you were going to free range your birds. I would start to whistle train them in the near future. If for some reason you need to lock them in a run or gather them up you will be happy you did. Every time you bring them a treat for example scratch (now that they are small i might use some small pieces of bread) i will always whistle and tap the container. Once you have there attention give them alittle. It won't take that long that once you whistle they come running over. Just keep repeating this daily. Now when i do let the birds free range and i want to put them back in the pen all i need to do is whistle and you see little feather balls come running out from everywhere. Most people that come over get a kick out of it. I found this has been very helpful in keeping chooks.
image.jpeg image.jpeg image.jpeg I just wrote a 7 paragraph description of all I went through last May. But this tablet I'm writing on had to reload the page or some silly stuff. Anyways, build a frame out of 2X2's and cover it with chicken wire to cover the pool. They will be wanting to fly! That will buy you a little time. But if your not going to keep them in the garage for the winter, I'd sure start acclimating them to the coop.
This is a bad time of year to put babies out in a coop.
Best of luck to you and your chicks. Glad you found this site! These people know everything there is to know about chickens. If they don't know they'll head you in the right direction.
I'm new to all this too. I do enjoy my girls, and they adore me! It's so sweet. Any time I open the door, they all come running. I have to pet everybody! One of them is always first and last. She's my favorite. Her name is Sassy Britches. I have 4 Buff Orps, 2 Wellsummers, 3 Black Jersey Giants, 3 Cinamon Queens, and Mrs. Red and the 2 Old sisters.⁉️ Don't know what these last three are for sure, all I do know is, they will live their lives to the fullest right here with me and I will take good care of them. They were old when I bought them, in a cardboard box. I couldn't see them good. I just knew they were beautiful girls. Got them home and saw the precious old faces of 2 blind hens and a married couple. That was Mr. & Mrs. Red. I still have Mrs. Red. Had to shoot her husband. He got real mean with me. He'd attack me every time I went in the coop! But, that's another story ‼️
I'm Kim. It's so nice to have you here with us.
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Thanks for all the tips! Let me see if I understand everyone. They are 10 days old and by 21 days (3weeks) the will be able to jump/fly high enough to get over the 3 foot fence?

The shear number of chicks mean that the will outgrow my current pool very quickly and I need to either expand or move them to the coop early? Now I will be running electricity out there and can put the heat lamps in there. Should I do 1 or put both out there. My coop is 36” x 161” with 4 levels of perches and 6 nesting boxes.

Many thanks for the help.
Thanks for all the tips! Let me see if I understand everyone. They are 10 days old and by 21 days (3weeks) the will be able to jump/fly high enough to get over the 3 foot fence?

The shear number of chicks mean that the will outgrow my current pool very quickly and I need to either expand or move them to the coop early? Now I will be running electricity out there and can put the heat lamps in there. Should I do 1 or put both out there. My coop is 36” x 161” with 4 levels of perches and 6 nesting boxes.

Many thanks for the help.
3'X13'6", that doesn't seem big enough for 23 girls! What size is the run? Pics of your coop?

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