Brooding Outdoors


8 Years
Feb 25, 2011
Bay City, TX
I may need to brood my new chicks outdoors. I should have my coop done and it is small enough to hold some heat. I've got a heat lamp. The forecast shows that for the next 10 days the lowest low will be 48 and the highs are going to average in the mid 70s. Will it be possible to brood in my coop? I will be brooding only 6 chicks, so I'm worried that might be an issue.
I brood mine in the coop, not the house. If you set up an area that is predator proof and draft free, then rig up a heat source wherer you can keep part of the area in the recommended temperature range, they will do fine.

My brooder is 3' x 5'. I keep one area in the recommended temperature range but let the rest cool off. The far corners are usually 20 or more degrees cooler. For the first couple of days, the chicks usually stay under the heat lamp, but by the third day they are running all over the brooder, coming back to the heat when they need it. They don't come back as often as you would probably expect. They do sleep in a pile under the heat lamp, but they sleep in a pile anyway. They like the company.

If you can keep one area in the brooder the right temperature, I don't think having only six will be an issue. I do think keeping drafts out is really important.

Set it up and put a thermometer in it to check it out, to assure you can maintain the temperature range. That means getting up early and checking when it is really cool. But I think it is important to give them an area that they can go cool off if they want to. Too much heat can be a bigger problem than not enough, especially if they have a warm place to go to if they need to.

Good luck!
I had 3 week old chicks out in lows of 40 F last spring with no heat.

One thing to remember with heat sources in your coop is to secure it with a chain or wire so if it dislodges has a safety catch.
I had my 4-5 week old chicks out with a light at night in a brooder in the shed. Well I decided with the temp not going below 49 last night that I would do their first night with out light. Well I asked my dh to close the shed doors (we get to the 70's in the day, so I open it for them to get sun). He forgot. They were fine though. They did not seem to mind at all.

I plan on putting my 2 week olds out there when they hit 4 weeks.
Thank you all so much! Mr has a low tolerance for noise and chicks can be seriously noisy. I'm glad it won't be an issue
I have 1-week old chick in the brooder in my house now. I was wondering about how and when to introduce them to the outdoor coop. Some places I read said to wean them off the light and others said they can come off the light after a week. I think I will wean them. I had them by the window yesterday to get sun and they acted really strange: they all huddled in the only corner that had shade, and behind the feeder shade. One was even doing the low crawl in the feeder shade. I thought they were too warm, so turned off the heat lamp, but they still acted the same way. The window was open and creating the slightest draft, though they were not directly under the open window, so maybe they were trying to get away from the draft (so I closed it). I know it wasn't the bright light because they sqwak really loud whenever I tried to put a dim heat lamp in place of the bright light bulb at night.

The general rule of thumb for weaning them off their heat lamp is:

90 to 95 the first week (although I've never had a chick that liked it warmer than 90)
85 to 90 second week
80 to 85 third week
75 to 80 fourth week
70 to 75 fifth week after which time they should no longer need supplemental heat.

Drafts are what you need to watch out for. Give them a place to warm up and a place to cool down and they do fine. My broody raised chicks have been outside in 30 degree weather. Not under mama the whole time, just going back to her when they need a warm up.
Thanks gritsar, that's helpful. No wonder they squawk when it starts getting dark and cooling off in the house. We turn on the heat lamp and they just cheep contentedly.
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My chicks are telling me that those high heat beliefs are not how they want to live. The last 3 days I've been putting my chicks out in their new little pen for the day. The first two days the weather was gorgeous -- high 60's, but today the high was 60, it was overcast with occasional sprinkles, and they still prefered being outside to being in their dark, dank box. Oh, they will be two weeks old tomorrow!!
I did take a plastic box and make a little solar warm spot for them, in their pen -- but they never really used it for the heat.

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