but WHEN can I move them outside?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by SillyJillie, May 2, 2016.

  1. SillyJillie

    SillyJillie Out Of The Brooder

    I live in Massachusetts and this is my first year with chickens. I have 10 total chicks, 3 of them are 6 weeks old and 7 of them are 3 weeks old. I have read many posts on HOW to move them outside while lessening the heat lamp but nothing on what the constant temperature they can move outside (or what month, which would be most helpful). They're outgrowing their box and as much as I enjoy them indoors, they're taking over my living room! Is there anybody on here from New England (since you're familiar with our weather patterns) that can assist me on which of these spring months I can move them out to their pen/coop area? Is it too early for them right now?
  2. mymilliefleur

    mymilliefleur Keeper of the Flock

    Nov 4, 2014
    East Tennessee.
    How cold does it get there at night? In less it is getting really cold your 6 week old chicks can go outside at any time. I would start putting your 3 week old chicks out during the day to get them used to the out doors. If it is above 45F they can go out for good too.
  3. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I’m not in New England but I’ve had chicks go through overnight lows in the mid 20’s at less than 6 weeks. I brood in the coop and have turned daytime heat off after 2 days and overnight heat off at 5 days in the heat of summer. There are a whole lot of different things I consider before I decide when they can go without heat, but that stuff seems to frustrate you so I’ll make it simple. If your overnight lows are above freezing they can go without heat at 6 weeks. If your overnight lows are below freezing, put them out at 7 weeks. Both of these are extremely safe. I never wait that long.
    1 person likes this.
  4. SillyJillie

    SillyJillie Out Of The Brooder

    Thank you. I don't like too much information. Just the basic, simple facts. New England is tricky with our unpredictable weather so this is the best answer I've heard yet.
  5. Ol Grey Mare

    Ol Grey Mare One egg shy of a full carton. ..... Premium Member

    Mar 9, 2014
    My Coop
    X 2
  6. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    x2 I never wait that long either. My first batch of chicks were 5.5 weeks old when I evicted them. At that point it was them or me! Their coop wasn't even finished, and it was April 1st. We live in Northern Wyoming, not too far from Yellowstone Park, in Basin between the Pryor, the Big Horn, and the Absaroka/Beartooth mountain ranges, so April here can't be called balmy. We often have winds in excess of 60 mph and that's year round.

    I put a lamp out there for them the first night, and had a wireless thermometer transmitter with the receiver in my room on the nightstand. I watched all night long as those temps dropped and dropped. I kept jumping out of bed, throwing my coat on over my jammies, pulling on my boots, and going out to check on them. They were fine - snuggled in a pile of beaks and feathers near the pop door - and nowhere NEAR the heat lamp. I expected to find chicken-cicles when I went out in the morning, but they were perfectly fine. They'd eaten, had some water, and were waiting for the pop door to open so they could go outside. The next night it was the same story, except I only got up once to check on them. It was 14 degrees that night. So that morning I took out the heat lamp. If they weren't going to use it, I wasn't going to risk it. That night it snowed. We got our last snowfall on June 6th. If I'd kept them inside until it was "safe" to put them out, they'd have practically been laying eggs in the brooder. Many of those girls are still out there 3 years later, providing eggs and entertainment. I gave 8 of them away to a lady who lost her entire flock to a pack of marauding dogs. The roos went into the freezer. But the ones I kept, and the ones I gave away, are still just fine.

    We have to remember sometimes that we are raising chickens, not little Divas. It's so hard not to base their comfort on our comfort levels. And the long we wait to make the transition to the outside facilities, the harder it is on them. They don't like change, and going from a lit, warm, noisy environment to what they'll have to live in is quite a shock. That is so stressful for them. Most times they huddle together not because they are cold, but because there's security in numbers.

    All of my subsequent chicks have been raised outside in an enclosure in the run, exposed to all the activities of the adults, the air, the surroundings they'll be in, the flora and fauna in the litter, and with a total understanding of day/night cycles. When the sun goes down, they go to bed, and they sleep all night long. No eating, no running around, no picking at flockmates - they just go to bed. When the sun comes up, they get up, rested and ready to start the day. I'll never go back to indoor brooding. I have three chicks out there right now (in with 8 others we bought when they were a couple of days old) and those three chicks went out to live as soon as they were hatched, dried, fluffy, and knew how to eat, drink and get warm.

    Heat stresses chicks and chickens much more than chilling. In fact, a little chilling is actually very beneficial for them. @Ridgerunner has often remarked that the chicks out in the brooder set up he has do very well, even if there's ice in the water on the other side of their brooder. They have cool zones, and warm zones, and like in my set up they very quickly learn to regulate their own comfort.

    Yours should be just fine. The hardest part is letting go, getting them out there, and sitting back with a glass of wine while they sort it all out for themselves. The longer you wait, the harder that is on both you and the chicks! So relax - if they are protected from predators they should be good to go! [​IMG]
    1 person likes this.
  7. SillyJillie

    SillyJillie Out Of The Brooder

    "If I'd kept them inside until it was "safe" to put them out, they'd have practically been laying eggs in the brooder. "

    lol! I feel like I'm headed there! Thank you for this info. It is extremely helpful. I look forward to raising chickens and to being a member here!
  8. Blooie

    Blooie Team Spina Bifida Premium Member

    Feb 25, 2014
    Northwestern Wyoming
    My Coop
    Last edited: May 2, 2016
  9. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    They are good to go out now. I'm north of you in New England. Northeast Kingdom of Vermont actually. There is nothing in the 10 day forecast that suggests there is any risk to putting a group of 3 week old birds out now. Your good to go.
  10. VTcreamlegbars

    VTcreamlegbars Out Of The Brooder

    Apr 27, 2014
    I live in Vermont and moved mine out last week. They were just about 2 months old and fully feathered. I moved them to a box stall in the barn with a small chicken coop house inside that they can go in and out of. I put a heat lamp in the house for night time, though they really do not need it -it is just me being overprotective. I have not had any problems with below freezing temps. Good luck!

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