Brooding chicks outside? Is that ok?

MaeRain

In the Brooder
Dec 10, 2015
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I plan on hatching some chicks this spring, we are wanting to have our coop built this winter and we do not currently have chickens. Is it managable to brood chicks out of doors? Would there be any special precautions I need to take? Thank you!
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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I always brood out in a shed, I have never brooded in the house, I always wait until it's both warm enough to ship them as well as brood them, I like May and June. The colder the outside temperature the more electricity you'll use. Just make sure where you brood them is safe and dry.
 

MaeRain

In the Brooder
Dec 10, 2015
16
1
32
Yes, and would a heating plate for chicks suffice instead of the lamp, I am concerned with fire.
 

oldhenlikesdogs

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There's a whole big thread on the heating pad method of brooding, so check that out, I only use a heat lamp to brood chicks because they can't knock it down like larger birds could, and it's something I'm familiar with and it works for me. Otherwise I've been looking at the panels and sweeterheaters, but haven't committed. Go with what you're comfortable with.
 

Ridgerunner

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Feb 2, 2009
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My 3’ x 6’ brooder is built into the coop, the top is the droppings board for the adults. It can serve as a broody buster or a place to isolate a chicken if it is not being used as a brooder. It has a hardware cloth bottom but in winter I stick a plastic tray and cardboard in there on the floor to help keep the heat in, at least on one end.. How much I wrap the brooder to keep the warmth in depends on the time of the year. In the summer I just have a small draft guard, in winter it is wrapped pretty tightly. I’ve put chicks in here straight from the incubator and shipped chicks when the outside temperature was below freezing. The end the chicks are on stays toasty but the far end may have ice in it on really cold mornings. Even straight from the incubator mine are really good at self-regulating temperatures. The key is that they need a place warm enough so they can go warm up if they need to. Some people would be amazed at how much time they spend in cooler areas, especially after they get a little age on them.

700


I don’t know how many chicks you are talking about or how big or what style your coop will be but it’s quite possible your entire coop could be the brooder as long as you have reliable heat out there. I have a stand-by generator just in case it is needed and have the stuff ready to quickly set up a temporary brooder in an outbuilding in case of a power outage. If an ice storm is predicted I get everything set up and ready, just in case. If I were brooding in the house and a power outage hit I’d have the same issues.

One of your issues in brooding outside is that the ambient temperature changes a lot, usually from day to night. You need a brooder big enough and set up in a way that you can always have “enough” heat in one area but let the rest cool off enough so the chicks can self-regulate. It doesn’t matter if one end is too hot while the other end is too cold as long as there is a spot in the middle that is just right.
 

Blooie

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Feb 25, 2014
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Read this article. https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/yes-you-certainly-can-brood-chicks-outdoors

I've brooded this way twice now, and won't go back to indoor brooding even if you paid me.

The benefits to the chicks far outweigh the "convenience" of brooding in your house. The chicks are so much better adjusted to life as chickens, making your job so much easier in the long run.
x2!! and thanks, @azygous ! It takes a huge leap of faith to turn away from the conventional "wisdom" of indoor brooders for weeks and weeks, and instead follow the lead of a broody hen as closely as you possibly can. It not only works, it's so easy you find yourself wondering if there's more you should be doing! There's not. It's simply a pen within a pen if you have older birds, or directly into the coop or run if you don't. They do the rest. They regulate their temperatures, they explore, they sleep at night (all night through!) instead of eating and running around 24/7, and they are calm and well adjusted. My biggest complaint with indoor brooding - and I have many - is that when the reach that "magic age", whatever that is supposed to be, and you put them out, they have so many huge adjustments to make at one time that it is intimidating for the chicks and the owners. Why not put them out to start with in the environment they'll be living out their days, and let them grow and develop without all that fussing? Do these guys look miserable to you? They are one week and two weeks old, and it was in the teens and twenties when they were out there. Didn't lose a single chick, all are healthy, and now laying quite well. I'll never, ever raise chicks anywhere but the coop again.

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oldhenlikesdogs

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Brooding chickens in the house is a recent thing, farmers would never brood that way, it is the new chickens as pets mentality that has led to this, I have never seen so much dust and dander produced by such little creature, and the smell of chicken poop, even a clean brooder is gross. Out in the shed is where they belong.
 

howfunkyisurchicken

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Apr 11, 2011
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Mine go into an outside hutch as well, no matter the time of year. I've taken freshly hatched chicks from the incubator to the brooder in the snow, and they do just fine :)
 

davef72

In the Brooder
Mar 2, 2015
82
6
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East Texas
I've been wondering the same thing about my dozens chicks. They're 3 weeks old but fear I can't leave them outside in my coop b/c of the draft I helped create for my Texas summers. I used pallets to frame the walls.
400
 

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