Bringing Chicks Outside

Madie'sOddFlock

Songster
Apr 17, 2018
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Maine
I have 4 chicks(2 pullets and 2 cockerels) who have been inside since they hatched the Wednesday of Labor Day(so almost 9 weeks). They've gone out on one trip for about 20 minutes and seemed to do fine. I've never used a heat lamp with them and our house is generally about 55°F. I want to put them out when I get my new(er) coop fixed up and get my older flock in there. My father(who is a little more experienced with chickens) says that they won't survive and even if they did it wouldn't be fair. He's urging me to sell them(or at least 3 of them) but I don't know how I would at this point and I don't see how that would be any better for them. So I'm determined to do whatever I can for them, and I'm just wondering if they would be okay outside. It gets to about 20° at the coldest right now and this week it's only supposed to get down to right around 30° at night...
Any advice or whatever is greatly appreciated!
Thanks,
Madie.
 

EggSighted4Life

Crossing the Road
5 Years
Apr 9, 2016
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Short outdoor visits is good to help them build some immunity to whatever may be on your pasture before going out full time.

At the stated age... they should be fully feathered, and therefor wearing down jackets.. assuming they aren't Silkies.

When introducing newer birds to older birds... a look but don't touch set up is good to make sure no one gets injured. How many in your old flock?

Done correctly your juveniles should thrive just fine. A small huddle box to help trap their heat can help while they learn to roost. They NEED to know where their safety zone is.

I do agree with dear Dad... that 2 males among your flock MAY not be a good choice. It's possible they will live happily ever after. But they may also competitively mate or over mate your hens or their favorite hen.

One bird doesn't stand ANY greater chance of surviving than 4 though... so I don't quite get that suggestion... unless you simply don't have enough room. :confused:

Good ventilation without drafts is key in cold climates... to preventing any frost bite on combs and such.

Good luck! :fl
 

azygous

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11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Chickens have lived outdoors for thousands of years in some pretty cold climates, and still thrive in frigid places like Alaska, Alberta, and Maine.

You don't want to kick them out of a warm house into a below freezing coop, but it should only take about a week to acclimatize them. Begin with short day trips outdoors on sunny calm days, gradually increasing the duration. When the chicks appear to be comfortable with extended stays outdoors, try sending them out on a gloomy below freezing day and see how they react. Gradually increase the duration at these very cold temps, careful to keep them out of freezing wind or breezes.

If there are no adult chickens, you can begin putting them in the coop during the day to get them accustomed to their new living quarters. Giving them a huddle box to snuggle in together at night can help transition them to spending the night at 30F. They should do just fine once they acclimatize.
 

Madie'sOddFlock

Songster
Apr 17, 2018
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One bird doesn't stand ANY greater chance of surviving than 4 though... so I don't quite get that suggestion... unless you simply don't have enough room. :confused:
Sorry, I should have explained that a bit better. Her name is Ella and she hatched with a rotated tibia, she will be a house chicken.
I do agree with dear Dad... that 2 males among your flock MAY not be a good choice. It's possible they will live happily ever after. But they may also competitively mate or over mate your hens or their favorite hen.
I have 2 full grown already, they are very docile and tend to prefer not going after each other. Plus my hens tend to be a little... averse to them and won't really allow them to mount.
When introducing newer birds to older birds... a look but don't touch set up is good to make sure no one gets injured. How many in your old flock?
I have 14 which sleep in one coop. They are 1+ year younger than the "big" coop which has 35 in it, but(contrary to what many have told me) they go to their respective coops as soon as the sun starts going down. We actually have 5 coops on the property, 1 has 10 hens, another 5 guineas and 11 hens, and another with 2 roos. The roos are let out every day but the other two are kept in runs. So we have 5 roos for 44 hens as of right now, with the additions we would have 7 roos for 45 hens... But the roos leave each other alone mostly and the hens really only tolerate Napoleon our small(but not quite bantam) Cochin roo. They technically free range on about 3 acres but stick to the approx. 1 acre of open lawn.
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Now that you've told us there are older chickens involved, I suggest one small change in my advice. As much as possible, expose the small fry to the adults with a see-through barrier for the first week.

Chicks have a natural fear of larger chickens once they get past the brooding stage. It's a matter of being wary of what they don't have experience with. The one week in a safe enclosure will permit the chicks to learn about their elders and the individual temperaments.

Once you let them all merge, the chicks will then be aware of which chickens might pose a threat and which are benign. I've watched chicks just a few days old watch the big chickens and learn. By the time my chicks are two weeks old, after observing the flock dynamics for that period, they are then able to safely mingle with the big chickens.

When you do let the chicks out to mingle with the flock, watch them carefully to be sure they know their way around and don't end up trapped in a blind corner at the mercy of a big bully.
 

Madie'sOddFlock

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Apr 17, 2018
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Maine
So, I brought the chicks out one at a time for 10-20 minutes on Thursday and today they've been out for 2 hours with no problems all together. I've had them inside in a 50 gal. plastic tote and today I cut the top of the tote to put chicken wire on it so they're more secure(I've been laying two tops across the opening one which was for a smaller tote and had chicken wire on it). If I were to put them out tonight, is it possible they would be okay? I have a 4x8 coop for the 14 older ones and would be putting the tote in for the chicks. It's been about 38 today and they haven't huddled together at all. One of my cockerels even went off by himself to roll in the snow. Tonight's low is supposed to be 25.
Thanks,
Madie
 

azygous

Enabler
11 Years
Dec 11, 2009
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Do you know about what the temp in the coop reads at night? What many of us do when transitioning chicks to sleep outside is to provide a huddle box for them to conserve body heat for a few nights until they adjust the rest of the way to cold sleeping temps. I use a cat nap bed for my chicks. They climb in and snuggle close and seem very content.
P1010038.JPG
 

Madie'sOddFlock

Songster
Apr 17, 2018
400
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Maine
I don't know what the temp in the coop is but judging from how it is in the morning when I open them up, it's not much warmer than outside.
 

VyeFye

Songster
Nov 7, 2018
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106
Lancaster, CA
I have 4 chicks(2 pullets and 2 cockerels) who have been inside since they hatched the Wednesday of Labor Day(so almost 9 weeks). They've gone out on one trip for about 20 minutes and seemed to do fine. I've never used a heat lamp with them and our house is generally about 55°F. I want to put them out when I get my new(er) coop fixed up and get my older flock in there. My father(who is a little more experienced with chickens) says that they won't survive and even if they did it wouldn't be fair. He's urging me to sell them(or at least 3 of them) but I don't know how I would at this point and I don't see how that would be any better for them. So I'm determined to do whatever I can for them, and I'm just wondering if they would be okay outside. It gets to about 20° at the coldest right now and this week it's only supposed to get down to right around 30° at night...
Any advice or whatever is greatly appreciated!
Thanks,
Madie.
After MUCH research I finally sucked it up and put my two pullets who are seven weeks old outside in their coop last night. They did fine and it got to a low of 27 F. This morning they are perfectly happy and hopping around in the coop. It is big enough for at least 8 birds so its not like they were warm last night because they were overly cramped.
I have been letting them out for short times during the day. They have had a heat source available to them the whole time because I have younger chicks that shared a brooder with them. Maybe give them a few days with some outside time to at least get used to the cold and wind in comparison to the warmth of your house.

As far as integrating your flock, search the playpen method. If you had a large dog kennel they can stay in that inside your coop until your other birds get used to them. Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
 

MANNA-PRO

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