Could REALLY use some guidance


11 Years
Oct 6, 2010
Bay Area, CA
I have 3 7-week old BO's. I also have an adult BO and Jersey Giant.

The two adults live in a HUGE run that I can walk in so over the weekend, I moved my 3' by 3' brooder pen into the big girls run and put the chicks in there. One immediately rushed up to the fencing and puffed up her chest to my alpha hen, the JG, and the JG returned the greeting with a big peck on the head. So I have no doubt that she'd kill all three of them given half the chance.

So I have a couple of questions.

1: It's getting up in the mid to high 60's during the day and down to the low 30's at night. Are the babies okay outside? I've been bringing them in at night and putting them in the garage in a big dog crate. The garage gets down into the mid 40's. But, I've been leaving a heat lamp on super high up. So maybe they only get to the low 50's in there. I've been leaving the light on because they cry if I turn it off.

So, are they okay with out any heat, even if it gets into the low 30's?
Are they okay in the dark? Can 7-week olds get through the night w/ out food and water? Cuz I don't think they could see to find it w/ out light.

My next concern is with rats. If I leave them outside, will rats try and eat them?

I can't put them into the hen house at night. The JG will kill them. The dog crate is too big to put inside the hen house.

I can put something inside the dog crate like a sturdy box and cut a hole in it and fill it with shavings so they can go inside and snuggle together and will probably be fine against the cold. But if rat wandered in there, would they be toast?

At what point, can they and will they defend themselves against a rat?

I don't think I have a real problem but I do occasionally see droppings so I have traps set and I catch one every few weeks so I know I've got them.

I also just tossed out a bunch of peanut butter balls mixed w/ plaster of Paris that people recommended. I scattered those no where near where my hens could get to them. I'm hoping that helps deal w/ the rats.

Anyway, what are your thoughts?


Heavenly Grains for Hens
9 Years
Jun 8, 2010
Pacific NW- where the Douglas Firs grow
I think they will be too cold outside with no heat in a dog crate in the 30's, even in a box at that age since they are used to much warmer temps and they don't really have much meat on their bones at 7 weeks.

If they could only go in the coop...that would be your answer. How about put the babies in the coop and the older hens in the dog crate, LOL? You could drape a blanket over part of the dog crate to help keep the older ones warm.

Rats/weasels will eat hens of any age, as they go into a stupor at night on the roost. They require 1/2 inch hardware cloth to keep them out, from what I have read.

So if it were me, I'd put the two older hens in the garage with no heat/light in the dog crate, and move the babies right into the coop. Only thing is, once daylight comes they need to lay eggs. So I don't know how feasible this is for you.

You might think about putting together a little plywood structure around your dog crate with air holes of course, to keep out rats and to keep them warmer. I mention this because it sounds like you are going to have to get through some more weeks of jostling chickens around before they can be in the same coop. Only way will be to give some more shelter/protection or put some in the garage IMO.

Also yes, 7 week olds can go through the night with it dark, and no food but you will see a slower weight gain.

I hope this helps.
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