Brooding Outside/Temperatures/Chick Care

chikmaw

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2020
22
39
31
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Hello all, I am a soon to be new chick momma. We will be getting 8 chicks sometime next spring of 2021. I really have been thinking about brooding out in the coop/run. It just seems more natural to me. We have not built our coop and run yet. I am thinking of a 4x6 off the ground with an attached covered, fenced, walk-in run of about 6x12. We will also have a small garden/forage area of about 16x10. I plan on running electric and water to this area. Here is my question. How do I do this? LOL should I make a brooder inside the run or brood them directly in the coop? I will have access to the coop from the back, but it might be hard to reach them. What about temperatures? I live in SW Pennsylvania. I wanted to get them around feb-april. Maybe I need a different design. This whole idea of wanting to raise chicks came from seeing some of the carolina coops. But maybe a straight walk-in coop would be better? If you had to do all over and you could do anything you wanted... what would YOU build? Any thoughts or I'd love to see pictures of your coop/run/brooder designs. TIA
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
11 Years
Feb 2, 2009
25,743
15,837
777
Southeast Louisiana
8 chicks is right on the border on a raised reach-in coop versus a walk-in coop. You need to be able to reach inside of every part of a raised reach-in coop. That's partly to be able to reach a chicken or an egg, but also to clean it and handle maintenance. For 8 chickens in Pennsylvania I would not go smaller than a 4' x 8' which requires some effort to be able to reach inside everywhere. My preference would be a 6' x 8' walk-in coop. Access is so much easier. You might be able to fit storage in there, say a metal garbage can with lid for feed. Or maybe a brooder. In your winters chickens can be trapped in the coop section only for extended times by weather. Weather may keep them out of the run. You might want to follow the link in my signature to get thoughts on why I think extra room could help you.

A 6 x 12 run isn't horrible. It's the minimum size I'd go with for 8 chickens. I consider my coop and run a space system, I don't sorry too much about the size of one but more about how I manage them both to take advantage of the combined space. Weather may take the run away form you. If you followed that link you'll know I always prefer bigger as long as it is reasonable. A walk-in run or coop needs to be tall enough you can stand up in it. That 10 x 16 garden area may or may not work out, time will tell. But if it is not always available it doesn't really count.

If you have no other adults in there you can brood in the coop and skip the brooder. My brooder is built into the coop. To me the biggest challenge in brooding outside is the temperature swings. I've seen temperatures go from below freezing to the 70's in 36 hours. Your heating system needs to be able to provide one spot warm enough in the coldest temperatures and yet provide a spot cool enough in the warmest temperatures. Too much heat is as dangerous as too little. I find that chicks straight out of the incubator or straight from the post office can manage that themselves if given the option. So I heat one end and let the far end cool down.

I use a heat lamp to provide heat but heating pads and heat plates are very popular and work well if set up properly. They are all used outside. I assume you are talking about pretty young chicks. After they are five week old heating isn't that critical, with their down and feather coats they can handle really cold temperatures. If you have a preferred heating method perhaps we can help with how to set it up.

I'd suggest you wait until later in the season to get the chicks if they are really young. It makes life simpler if the danger of freezing is past. If you are getting them through the mail there is less chance of a delayed delivery due to a blizzard somewhere along the shipping route. You don't have to worry about keeping their water thawed.

Not that I expect it to do you any good but I'll show my brooder.

Brooder Bins.JPG
 

chikmaw

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2020
22
39
31
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Thank you so much for your reply. I have spent the morning looking at brooder/coop/run images. I think changing the design to a walk-in, with your idea of a built in brooder seems logical. I'm just not sure about the outside space. I know I want part of it covered with a roof. One side will be backed up against the fence, but the other side will still be exposed to the elements. I'm going to have to rethink the design. You've given me some good ideas and thoughts. I appreciate it. Thank you. I will go check the link you provided.
 

rosemarythyme

Crossing the Road
Jul 3, 2016
11,783
21,780
792
WA, Pac NW
My Coop
Ridgerunner already talked about build size concerns, so not going to hammer on that.

For your situation I'd think an in-coop brooder would be the way to go, both for climate protection and predator protection. Temperature could be a concern: What are your temps around Feb vs April, for example?

I brood out in the run but that's because I don't really have sufficient space to brood in coop with current set up, and temperature isn't a concern by May, which is when I get my chicks.
 

chikmaw

In the Brooder
Aug 9, 2020
22
39
31
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Ridgerunner already talked about build size concerns, so not going to hammer on that.

For your situation I'd think an in-coop brooder would be the way to go, both for climate protection and predator protection. Temperature could be a concern: What are your temps around Feb vs April, for example?

I brood out in the run but that's because I don't really have sufficient space to brood in coop with current set up, and temperature isn't a concern by May, which is when I get my chicks.
I will be getting them in April. Temp average is Low's mid 30's, High's mid 60's I think you and Ridgerunner are right.. A walk-in with built-in brooder. I'm going to try and design one about 6x8 with a 6x14 covered run. They will also have daily access to a 10x16 garden area to forage. I plan on rotating little crops in it. Alfalfa, nasturtiums, kale, chard, comfrey, bee balm, lavender and thyme. Covering/Uncovering to let them access. I may start out with 6 and see how it goes. This will be around about total of 300 sq. feet. I should think this wold be enough room.
This is the general idea of the coop and run that I like... The run would have a metal roof and a long eve over one side. Also the other side will be closed in so the weather wont make it a muddy mess. I also plan on hardware cloth cover the foraging/garden pen as well to protect from predators.

 

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