Can I put 4-week-old silkies outdoors... UPDATED: Yes I can!

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by iamcuriositycat, Oct 11, 2011.

  1. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Charlotte, NC
    The babies are 4 weeks old and they're not a problem in the house (a bit stinky, but I usually raise ducklings so this is NOTHING compared to 4-week-old ducklings!), but I think they'd like a bit more room, especially when it's rainy out and they're indoors all day.

    They've been going out during the day to a little wire pen (with a roof on one end) that sits right on the ground, so they can scratch at the dirt and hunt for bugs in the grass. It's been in the 60s-70s with sunshine, so temp hasn't been a problem for them (they have a feather duster that they went under once when cold--but mostly they hang out in the sun and are fine). But today it was rainy and 50s, so I kept them in, and they're going stir crazy in their little brood box.

    SO. Can I put them outside in a rabbit-hutch-style cage (it's actually a quail pen), under the lean-to, with straw over the wire bottom, give them a heat lamp (60 watts?), and leave them all day AND night... or just during the day? It's getting into the 40s at night. There could be some draft coming up from the bottom, depending on how thick I lay the straw down, or from the front--they're only enclosed by hard surfaces on three sides. I could, however, construct a false wall that would keep one section draft-free, and put the heat lamp in that section.

    Thoughts? I've raised dozens of ducklings, and they've usually been kicked out around two weeks, but chickens are not nearly so hardy at this age. Help! [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2011
  2. TigerLilly

    TigerLilly I failed Chicken Math

    Jul 18, 2010
    Central Florida
    How feathered are they? I'm south of you, so I was putting mine outside at that age (couldn't handle the smell). Of course, it was also during the spring/summer when I did it.
    If you do it & use a light, just make sure that it is totally SECURE with no danger of falling anywhere it could start a fire. good luck with them!
     
  3. Wolftalk

    Wolftalk Chillin' With My Peeps

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    The Coop :)
    as long as you have some place with a lamp for them at night they should be fine!
     
  4. wyododge

    wyododge Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I put three day old babies outside in 60* weather in a dog crate, and outside well into the night at one or two weeks with low 50's high 40's. We put a blanket over the top and on one side to block the wind. They huddled in the corner and warmed up, went and ate, huddled up in the corner, got water, ran around, huddled up, etc... Chicks appear to be fragile, and helpless, but in fact they are not. They do not need auxiliary heat. They will grow feathers amazingly fast, and will adapt to their surroundings quickly.

    This picture is of my chicks at right around three weeks, outside in the coop with a mini run. Fully feathered, vibrant, healthy and definitely not at all cold at night in the low 50's in a wide open coop. Prior to that they wee on the back porch. We had to bring them in at night because of predators, but I left them out till midnight or 1 AM. They were back out usually by 6 or 7.

    [​IMG]

    We believe that raising them hard and strong makes them vibrant, healthy and active, just like if they were in the wild. Pampering and providing heat will delay the formation of feathers they will need to survive. Good to hear you have them on the ground, nothing like dirt to build a healthy immune system. They are amazing, and adaptive creatures. God gave them everything they need to survive, often we tend to get in the way of the gifts given them. (at least I know i have)

    Oh and in case you are wondering, we did lose one chick, but to a broken neck, not the cold, we think the cat wanted to play.

    Find a member here named 'ruth' go to her page and read her 'journey'. My wife and I found it very informative and even more accurate.
     
  5. marlene

    marlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Totally agree with Wyododge, a while ago on here i read about a person who took her chicks off heat at 1 week and by 2 weeks they was outside feathering up nicely and coping with temps.
    I decided that i would try this method for myself and i am really happy with the out come, my chicks get taken off the heat during the day at about 4 days old and then at night at 1 week old. From 2 week i start putting them outside from morning till dusk, from about 3 weeks old they start sleeping in the main coop in a rabbit hutch with no heat and that is where they stay from there onwards. I have had no problems with this method, the chicks are happy and feather out faster to cope with their invironment.
     
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  6. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Oh, wow. That's great to hear. I knew ducklings were like that--they stop needing heat really early. I wonder if the general idea that they need heat evolved from birds raised for meat--maybe if they're warm they put on meat faster because they don't have to grow their feathers as fast?

    Anyway, does anyone know if this is safe for silkies? They are bantam, which is what makes me wonder. I will definitely take them off heat and they'll go outside today even if it's raining (they have shelter). Then maybe when they're adjusted to no heat, I'll leave them outside at night in the rabbit hutch. This would be great, for them to be out of the house!

    Thanks, guys.
     
  7. marlene

    marlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yes its fine for silkies, thats what i've had outside since 2 weeks, mine are bantam silkies. I also have bantam pekin cross silkies that are 1 week old today and have been off heat in the day since 3-4 days old and off the heat at night since yesterday, in the next few days they will be spending their days outside in a rabbit run and in about 2 weeks they will be in the sleeping in the rabbit hutch that is in the coop. They really are stronger than what we think and adjust very well to the invoronment we give them.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2011
  8. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Yay! I have found this to be true of ducklings (and human young) as well, but had gotten the impression that chicks were much more delicate. I'm glad to hear that's not really the case.

    They are outdoors in 60s today under the lean-to to keep them out of the wet grass. They are LOVING the dry straw and dust for baths. I'm going to put them up in the rabbit hutch tonight with a thick bedding of straw and a windbreak and maybe check on them in the wee hours to make sure they're not getting chilled.

    Here's a picture that shows approximately how feathered they are (it's from this weekend, so they are very slightly more feathered now):

    [​IMG]

    Thanks for the advice. [​IMG]
     
  9. marlene

    marlene Chillin' With My Peeps

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    You will find that once they are off the heat and spending more time in colder climates they will feather out even quicker. Any way good luck and hope it all goes to plan, let us know how they get on.
     
  10. iamcuriositycat

    iamcuriositycat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all the encouragement & tips, guys! The chicks have been outdoors three nights in a row now, and every morning I wake up expecting to find them huddled together for warmth, and every morning I go out and they're moving around foraging, mock fighting, and acting perfectly comfy and energetic. Yay!

    I did lose one, but not to temps. I had let them out to free range a bit while I was out there with them. I went in the house for a minute and then forgot they were out there. I suspect a hawk took one--when I went back out there, six of them were huddled under the shelter of their little portable pen and one was gone--no sign. Next day, there were about four hawks perched in the trees out there--apparently the "free chicken dinner" word had gotten passed around pretty quick. I am much more careful about this now, obviously.

    I'm sad about that one, but it feels so good not to be cooping them up every night with a light and too little room. Now they have tons of space and the opportunity to build their cold tolerance gradually as fall moves onward, and they get to sleep in the dark.

    Again, thanks for the help!
     

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