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Contemplating raising chicks outside next year

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Uzuri, Nov 9, 2010.

  1. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Yeah, I lost my brooder area (garage) to a renter, and I'm already feeling chick cravings. This is awful. I want to do meaties again, and also possibly a couple replacement layers (I haven't decided for sure on those).

    My thought is to build a small roofed brooder *inside* my old mobile run (you can see the run here at the bottom of the page: https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=25978 The coop has been moved out of there into a stationary run, so it's just a 10' x 6' cage with aprons.) and run an extension cord out to it with a (heavily secured) light*. As the chicks get older, I would open a door in the brooder and allow them to run on the grass inside the run if they want to, but still keep a light in.

    Anyone done this? How successful were you? And how long did it take the little buggers to be too big to escape through chickenwire (The run is mostly 2" x 4" welded wire, but the bottom 2' is lined with poultry netting)?

    *At first I was thinking it wouldn't work, that they'd freeze for sure... then it occurred to me that, hey, stupid, you raised them in an unheated, uninsulated garage before and they made it. Dur.

  2. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    I raise mine on the screened porch and start letting them outside on nice days when they are about two weeks old, so I don't know why you couldn't do it the way you've described; except for making absolutely sure the brooder is predator proof.
  3. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    I raise mine all outside. Two 100W bulbs at night, one during the day. Temps in spring are usually mid 30's at night, mid 40's in the day, with the rare snow. The brooder is a 4x4x5 play house with single 1/4 inch siding all around, uninsulated.
  4. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    I've brought chicks straight from TSC (maybe 3 days old?) and put them in my doghouse turned into a chicken tractor, turned into a brooder. Very versatile piece of chicken equipment, I'm glad I bought it!


    In the daytime, I can open the door for more ventilation and to prevent it from overheating them when the sun shines on them.


    And as they get older I remove the hardware cloth over the doorway and re-attach the run so they can get some grass.
    Pretty much all of my chickens have lived in at during some point of their life. If I leave the door open, the hens will lay eggs inside, and sometimes they try to roost on top rather than going into the coop. It has gotten a LOT of mileage, and it's still going strong!
  5. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Songster

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Tala- that is an awesome set up! It sure beats having them in the house, especially the meaties. (I hear they are quite stinky)
  6. Uzuri

    Uzuri Songster

    Mar 25, 2009
    Thanks for the reassurance guys; I think I'm going to do it that way this year [​IMG]
  7. Tala

    Tala Flock Mistress

    Quote:Well, most people raise meaties "in bulk" don't they? Especially as fast as they grow.
    The doghouse isn't THAT big. LOL

  8. silkiechicken

    silkiechicken Staff PhD Premium Member

    Quote:Oh yeah, meaties stink. Imagine all the poop your layer chick makes in the first 6 months of it's life. Now instead of putting that over 6 months, put that over 8 weeks. That is why they stink. I raise my meaties in small bunches of at most a dozen outside tractor style so they move around to fresh ground.... which turns to mud in about half a day.
  9. kitchwitch

    kitchwitch Songster

    Feb 3, 2009
    Greensburg, Pa
    My most recent chicks came to me at 1 week of age. They lived on my dining room table until they were 3 weeks old then I put them out of the front porch with night time heat and a wire "roof" for the rubbermaid bin they were in. They've been outside for about 3 weeks now and a week ago I took them off heat altogether. Today they moved outside the big girl's coop into another large rubbermaid bin with attached run. (For introduction purposes; they'll spend another 3 weeks like this until I put them inside the coop)

    This time it's been a great success both in part to having 4 chicks instead of 25 and general accessibility to their brooder. In fact I'd love to be able to do my spring chickens in batches of 4 or 5 but it's too cost prohibitive.

    The best part about it for me is that it's confirmed my belief that chicks really don't NEED to be kept at the perimeters given in most books. The first time around I had day-olds and the brooder never even reached 85. This time around they were on heat for the first week, then kept at room temp (79) until I put them outside where they were given heat only at night (it's been chilly) and during the day I put them in a wire run in the side yard to stretch their wings, eat some grass and absorb the sun. All in all it's been so much cheaper this way and I've conserved bulb usage (they are about $15 a piece).

    This spring I plan on ordering my chicks a bit later, maybe end of March, so that I can raise them in this manner; a couple weeks on heat, a couple off of heat and then move them outside.
  10. dianaross77

    dianaross77 Songster

    Oct 10, 2010
    Grand Blanc, MI
    Quote:[​IMG] I can't imagine having that many meaties at one time. I don't know how people do it. But then again I don't have any chickens at all yet!

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