Brooder and Roost Questions

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by rhschulz2000, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. rhschulz2000

    rhschulz2000 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2011
    I am new to the chicken world and my 9 Plymouth Rock females are 3 weeks old and growing fast. They are currently in a 75 gal Rubbermaid stock tank. My two questions are this.
    • I know I am supposed to keep them in the brooder for 6-8 weeks, but since they are getting really rambunctious in the stock tank, what are the possible negatives to giving them the run of the chicken coop earlier than the 6-8 week recommendation?. The coop is very secure, weather tight and insulated. I would still hang the heat lamp so they could be under it if needed, and the feed and water would also be available.
    • How does one determine how high to initially position the roost? I am going to have one long pole (10 feet) for them to roost on. Do I start at one foot and keep raising it? What is the optimum final height?
  2. gardendufus

    gardendufus Chillin' With My Peeps

    I assume there are no other chickens in your coop? My chicks, now 3 1/2 weeks old have been in my semi open air coop since the day I picked them up at the feedstore. Temps here since I picked them up have ranged from single digits at night to 70's during the day for this last week. The one difference is that my brooder is actually inside the coop, so they don't have free run of the coop. But I would think as long as you provided a heat lamp so that they could get to a warm spot, they are old enough to be let loose in the coop.

    If you think you need to provide a little more protection for them, find a way to mostly block one area (so that they can come in and go out at will) and possibly put a piece of OSB over the top (except for where the heat lamp is) to retain the heat. You don't list where you are from, so I have no idea of what your weather is like at the moment.

    Can't answer your question about the roost, except to say that my brooder has a roost in it right now at a little over a foot height and they jump up and down off it at will without any trouble. I will be releasing them into the main part of the coop in a couple of weeks, and my roosts are 3 feet high, with a ramp for them to climb up to it if they need it. Somehow I don't think they will though.

    Here's a pic of the quick brooder I put together, not pretty, but it works. Sits in the middle of my coop. At night I cover the chicken wire with more OSB to keep the heat in.

  3. rhschulz2000

    rhschulz2000 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2011
    Thanks so much for your response. I am in Castle Rock, CO so not very far from you. As you know we have been having unseasonably warm weather, but that could change very quickly. Good luck with your babies. Bob
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I also keep my brooder in the coop from Day 1. It’s also wire but I keep a good draft guard around the bottom to keep direct breezes off them. I don’t cover it but heat only one area and let the rest cool down as it will. Last fall, the cooler areas were in the 40’s and 50’s occasionally. As long as they have a warm area to go back to, they don’t need the entire brooder heated. I think them having the cooler areas to play in helps them get acclimated a lot faster.

    Last fall, I took the chicks out of the brooder at 5 weeks and put them in a grow-out coop. When they were 5-1/2 weeks old in that unheated but draft-protected grow-out coop, the overnight temperatures dropped into the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. They were fine, but I do think that acclimating helped them feather out.

    I’ve seen a broody take her chicks to the roost at 2 weeks old in the middle of summer. That roost was 4 feet high, but they used the top of the nesting box as a launch point. Those 2 week old chicks flew 3 feet horizontal and 2 feet vertically up without a problem.

    You will probably find your chicks will not spend the night on the roosts for a while. I’ve had brooder raised chicks take to the roosts at 5 weeks, but 10 to 12 weeks is much more normal for me. They may play on the roosts during the day, but spend the nights on the floor of the coop in a pile for months yet.

    You can put the roosts low and move them if you want, or give them lower perches to play on, but I’d just put the roosts in their permanent position. When they are ready to roost, they’ll get up there.

    One thing I did with my first batch of chicks in the coop with no adults was to lean a tree limb at about a 45 degree angle against the wall for them to play on. They walked up or down it or just flew up or down.

    With what you describe, I don’t see any reason you can’t hang a light in one area and put them out there. They will probably sleep pretty close to the heat, but during the day, expect to see them all over that coop.

    Make very sure you hang the light securely and don’t depend on that clamp that came with it at all. You don’t need a fire.
  5. Apyl

    Apyl Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 5, 2012
    Necedah, Wi
    My chicks have been in the coop since they were 2 weeks old. I have a heat lamp in there also just in case they need it. They are now 4 weeks old and LOVE it outside. I'm so glad I moved them outside when I did, they really needed the extra space to run and flap their wings. I also had roosts in the brooder from day 1 and they have some in the coop. Every morning when I go out there to open it up and feed and water there is always chicks on the roosts, on the floor, on the bale of hay,heck if they can fly up on it they get on it. lol
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2012
  6. ButchGood

    ButchGood Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 14, 2012
    Central Texas
    This is what Im doing. They are staying in a spare bedroom in a 6x3 brooder. At 3 weeks old they are going into a brand new 8x8 coop. This coop was built for them. No chickens are in the coop. Im going to hang the heat lamp from the rafters. They're going to get the big boy feeder and waterer. Im going to add a temp. roost that they can reach. Then when they're big enough I'll open the chicken door to a 25x25 run.
  7. rhschulz2000

    rhschulz2000 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2011
    Your response was very helpful.

    Thanks, Bob
  8. rhschulz2000

    rhschulz2000 Out Of The Brooder

    Dec 16, 2011
    Your response was very helpful.


BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by