Brooding Outdoors in the PNW

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CrazedCowgirl, Nov 26, 2016.

  1. CrazedCowgirl

    CrazedCowgirl Chirping

    Jan 17, 2016
    Eugene Oregon
    Hey everyone!

    So long story short my husband just ordered 10 surprise chicks for me. HUGE problem, I'm in the middle of a full coop revamp and my 5 current hens are in a small coop ( 3'x4') and roosting on a ladder (I've tried to get them to roost in their coop and they refuse) Their ladder, coop, feeder and waterer all sit under a 10x10 awning.

    Here's my question. I have a 10'x4'x4' PVC Isolation pen I use for new birds. Do you think, if covered in a heavy duty trap, it could suffice as a brooder for 10 new chicks? I'd reline it with .25" hardware cloth as it currently has 1" chicken wire on it.

    For a "coop" I could easily make a basic coop to either put a heating pad in or a reptile heat light. I'm not very confident they any of my hens would know what to do with chicks just yet.

    I'm in Oregon so we're getting our lovely liquid sunshine and the temps next week, when my chicks arrive, are estimated to be right around freezing at night for about 2 weeks.

  2. Ravynscroft

    Ravynscroft For the Love of Duck Premium Member

    Nov 30, 2014
    Middle Tennessee
  3. azygous

    azygous Free Ranging

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I've raised chicks under similar temperatures as you have, and my chicks thrived under the heating pad system. Not only that, but they benefit in so many other ways by being outdoors with the flock. All that's necessary is to block off cold drafts and shelter them from rain.

    See my article on outdoor brooding linked below this post.
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    Like many others I brood mine outside all year around, dead of winter and heat of summer. Really hot weather actually offers me more concern than cold weather, too much heat can be dangerous. I use heat lamps but there are plenty of other ways to provide heat. What you are aiming for is to have one spot warm enough on the coldest day and one spot cool enough on the hottest day. It doesn’t matter how you accomplish that, they are really good at self-regulating as long as they have the option, even straight from the incubator or post office.

    With your liquid sunshine it is important that they stay dry. If they get wet they can be in serious trouble. Also if you are dealing with electricity regardless of the method you use to provide heat, there are risks with that if it gets wet. How you get electricity to that area and how you keep everything dry are important considerations.

    The big difference in brooding outdoors versus indoors is that you have some pretty big temperature swings outdoors. That makes keeping the entire brooder some perfect temperature is pretty near impossible. By setting up heat in one area that is always warm enough and letting the remainder cool off you totally eliminate that problem. I keep one end of my 3’ x 6’ brooder toasty, which is inside my main coop so it stays dry, but there have been mornings I’ve had ice on the far end. The chicks were fine, they stay in the warm end when they are pretty young. But at a surprisingly young age they start to play in the cooler end and just go back to the warm area when they need to warm up. The good thing about this system is that even if the warm area is too warm, they just don’t get that close to the heat lamps.

    Another possible issue since you are talking about freezing weather is that the water can freeze. I use a small black rubber bowl in winter and fill it with rocks so they can “walk on water” and not get in and get wet. I set that bowl in the warm area, not so close to the heat lamps that it will get really hot but where it will stay thawed. Maybe Azygous can tell you what she does with her heating pad method. There are always different ways to accomplish any of this stuff.

    So keep the chicks dry, be careful of electricity in the wet, and provide spots warm enough and cool enough. You are good to go.

    I’ll show a picture of my brooder in the coop because people tend to like pictures. In winter I wrap it pretty tightly with plastic all over to help keep heat in. That chimney-like thing to the left is where I keep one heat lamp. The second is wired to the side. It keeps the adults in the coop away from the heat lamp and provides a chimney for hot air to rise and provide good ventilation even when it is tightly wrapped. I wire my heat lamps in place so there is no way they can fall.

  5. n8ivetxn

    n8ivetxn Songster

    Nov 15, 2011
    Elma, Washington
    I have 6 Araucana chicks that are brooding out in the coop. They're not fully feathered yet, but they seem to really enjoy being out there. I have one wall of the coop sectioned off for them, and they have a heat lamp along with a heat pad (in case the light goes out during the night)....

    I'm in western Washington, just west of Olympia. Our night temps have been 45F down to 35F and day temps are 57F down to 45F.

    I think you'll be alright [​IMG]

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