Chicks in the basement over the winter?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by ChickieKat, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 17, 2013
    I live in Vermont and a week ago we put 29 1.5 week old meat chicks in our basement in a tarped off area to raise to the point that they can go outside. We are splitting the meat birds with a friend who is going to take them once they have feathered out, but we are caring for them while they are small. They are thriving so far and now that we have the chicken bug, we are thinking of getting three to four chicks for egg birds. We do not use the room in our basement, and it has its own heater and it actually has a window that leads directly to the front yard. We were thinking we could keep them in the tarped off area (about 10'x6', but we could expand that to about 50% larger) for the winter and then move them out to a coop in the spring. Would a winter in a heated room be bad for them? Would it be possible to acclimate them to the outside before it gets too cold? Are we asking for insanity all winter? Thanks in advance.
     
  2. TOP KNOT

    TOP KNOT Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I would get them outside! They will smell your house up!!! Make them a place in a shed, garage, or coop, not inside your house. Use lamps and a oil coil heater if needed.(the electric kind where the oil inside heats up for radiant heat) Put a ceiling on the brooder to hold the heat down. Thats what I did. I actually put large sheets of cardboard over the roost rails and hung the lamps off the rails. It was so cold out I added that oil heater. I plugged the lamps off of 2 different breakers just in case I was to blow a circuit. Everyone is fine and dandy! You can open the lid to adjust the temp or raise or lower the lamps. I really would not keep them in the get really stinky!!
     
  3. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    They, the meat birds, grow so fast that this isn't likely going to be an issue. They'll be huge before the calendar turns "officially" to fall on September 22. Vermont is known for gorgeous autumnal weather. I don't think you face anything too severe until late in October or early November? Something like that?

    Frankly, they'll be in the freezer before then. They will, however, be very, very cold in there. LOL


    Now, the others. We live way up here and winter will roll in around December 1st with sincerity. I just set eggs the other day. They are slated to hatch September 5th. I'll brood them in the attached garage through September. Then, I'll start weaning them off the heat lamp by lowering the wattage. First two weeks of October they'll be down to a 90 watt bulb. That's it. By the third week of October, they'll be feathered out and they will go out to the barn. I may let them have a 60 watt bulb, only at night for an additional week, but that's it. By Halloween, they'll be 8 weeks old and on their own, fully feathered out and look like miniature adults. You could mimic this same scenario with no difficulties.

    We do not heat our barn in the winter and our winter's are brutal. They do just fine under those down coats that nature gives them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2013
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  4. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    PS We never, ever, brood in the house. The stink and dust is a killer. No, no, and no.
     
  5. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for all of the advice. We are definitely going to brood them in the house, but we will move them out once they are big enough. Our setup right now is a spare room in the downstairs of our raised ranch. It is unfinished and has a cement floor. We have a 20x10' tarp with the corners pulled up to make a pen for 29 meat birds. They have been there for a little over a week and as long as we keep up with keeping their bedding clean, they have been doing great. I am assuming that 5 chicks will be a bit easier than 29 so we are going to give it a try. So glad to know we still have enough time to grow them long enough to be winter hardy.

    On another note, we ordered chicks yesterday! They will be here in 2 weeks and we are getting: 1 Silkie, 1 Barred Plymouth Rock, 1 Brahma, 1 Black Jersey Giant and 1 NH Red. Cannot wait!
     
  6. write2caroline

    write2caroline Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I found sand was less messy than wood chips.

    Chickens have these great natural down feathers that plump up in the cold. So once your chickens are feathered out and grown they will do a good job of keeping themselves warm. The roosts must be wide enough so that the feathers will cover the feet when roosting and that will prevent cold toe-sies.

    They should have good ventilation so that humidity does not build up - humidity will freeze and cause frost bite on combs wattles etc. You can smear on some vaseline or some other product but they tend to get it messy. They need to be out of drafts but they can handle the full on cold because they have those beautiful feathers. As long as they have enough feed and not frozen water they will be fine.

    Here in Jacksonville, we have 5-10 days maybe with freezing temperatures so for us it is more a surprise and it is not something I worry about except those snap freezes but my coops have good ventilation and are draft free with wide roosts so on those cold days I have checked on them and they were fine. When they were younger I used a 5 gallon bucket with a lid and I filled it with hot water. That radiated heat nicely but it mainly kept the waterer for freezing and the girls tended to stay farther from it. I do like to spoil them and feed them warm oatmeal on those cold days.

    Caroline
     
  7. annagarret

    annagarret Chillin' With My Peeps

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    If you have never kept chicks in your basement, i feel you will regret it, the smell and clean up might even ruin your home. They may not even thrive without fresh air and sunshine,which would produce poor quality meat
     
  8. ChickieKat

    ChickieKat Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 17, 2013
    The meat birds have only been in there for a week and will only be there for 2 more before they are going outside at a friend's house. They are thriving so far, and the smell is negligible so far. We are changing the shavings every 2-3 days and raking them every day. The egg birds will be in there until they are feathered out and then are going outside. We decided to ramp up coop building, and are clearing out brush this weekend and are going to start planning out the exact build of the coop and run over the next couple of weeks and it will be finished by the time the egg chicks are ready to go out. The meat birds will be going home a few days before the egg birds arrive.

    Also, the birds are on a tarp. They aren't directly on the cement floor. The tarp is pulled up on all four sides and the 29 meat birds haven't made a dent in the tarp at all. We are sweeping it completely clean each time we change the bedding and plan to hose it down between meat birds and our new chickies, so the floors aren't getting damaged. Crossing our fingers that everything will keep going as well as it has. So grateful for all of the advice here though.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2013
  9. annagarret

    annagarret Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good luck!!!
     
  10. DaveMorey

    DaveMorey Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I also live in Vermont and started my last two broods in March in my basement. I had 20 chicks each time and used a 4'x8' brood box made of plywood including the bottom. I cleaned the whole thing weekly and laid down new shavings. I live in a old colonial house with a dirt floor basement. Keeping the brooder clean was the key to no odor. I moved the chicks out as soon as they were only minimally dependant on the heat lamp. I put a heat lamp in the coop for the coldest nights in April.
     

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