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Differences between raising winter chicks and summer chicks

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Redhead Rae, Jan 4, 2017.

  1. Redhead Rae

    Redhead Rae Chickens, chickens everywhere! Premium Member

    Jan 4, 2017
    Braxton County, WV
    We started raising chicks this past year, we got one batch in May and one in July. We have a batch of 30 Buff Orp chicks coming at the end of the month. What do we need to do differently with these chicks because of the colder weather? We have a stone shed that we are planning to put Rubbermaid containers in with heat lights as brooders for the first few weeks (3 of the largest containers Walmart carries). When can we start moving them outside? Will we have to give them larger accommodations inside before they can be moved outside? We are in the middle of WV for climate info.

  2. CascadiaRiver

    CascadiaRiver Songster

    Dec 12, 2014
    Pacific Northwest
    I've learned that raising chicks is pretty much based on behavior and common sense :)

    The rule for keeping chicks warm I believe is 95-100 degrees and can be decreased by 5 degrees every week until about 70 degrees is met UNLESS birds appear cold, shivering, (cold toes is a usually good hint in case they aren't shivering!) and is they are panting and avoiding the heat its a pretty good bet its too warm for them <3

    I'll usually say it's time for the pullets and cockerels to leave the brooder the weather is good/warm and the birds are mostly feathered (at least with their baby feathers of course!) but like always with most animals and children, you have to keep an eye on them and if they're noticeable cold most of the time then its probably too cold for them outside and to wait a little longer :)

    I am a pet chicken owner and I raise my birds like they're my babies so I may keep them inside longer than someone who raises hardier birds <3
  3. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    Chicken Math.
    these large fowl heritage breeds need 1 sq. ft. per bird until 4 weeks old. Then 1.5 sq. ft. per bird until 12 weeks old. Then 2 sq. ft. per bird. When they are full grown ( when they start laying) they will need 4 sq. ft. per bird inside and 10 sq. ft. per bird outside. After 4 weeks old when they are fully feathered they go into what is called a "grow-out" pen. For these I used the triple thick cardboard corrals for watermelons. ( in the industry they are called "Gaylords") They contain 15 sq. ft. per corral and will raise 7 birds in each one from 4 weeks until 3 months. So you would need 4. One extra bird in each one isn't going to make a difference. or you could get 5 corrals and put 6 in each one, smile. I laid a tarp down, then sat the corral on top. Added 4-6 inches of white bale kiln dried hardwood shavings from Tractor Supply. ( not the yellow bale). Then lay on a chicken wire cover, weighted on the side so they can't fly out.. Feeder and waterer go on raised platforms. I raised 42 Light Sussex that way 2 years ago. It worked out great.
    Karen in western PA, USA
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2017
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Free Ranging

    Feb 2, 2009
    Southeast Louisiana
    How steady is the temperature in that stone shed? Will you have temperature swings or will it be very constant? If your temperatures are constant, you can make those bins work. If you have temperature swings it gets harder.

    A broody hen does not keep the entire universe one perfect temperature for her chicks. She provides a spot for them to warm up when they need it. Even very young chicks will leave her warmth long enough to eat and drink in very cold weather. The colder it is the sooner they go back to warm up. Broody hens do raise chicks in really cold weather.

    That’s the concept I suggest for a brooder. Keep one area warm enough in the coldest of temperatures and another area cool enough in the warmest temperatures. If you don’t have temperature swings you can manage that in your bins, a lot of chicks have been raised in things smaller than your bins. But when you have bigger temperature swings they need more room to get away from the heat.

    If you are brooding in a constant temperature, you can adjust the heat going into the end of your bin by using different wattage bulbs, raising or lowering you lamp, or moving the lamp so only part of the heat generated is going inside the bin.

    I use heat lamps but there are plenty of other things that can work. 30 chicks is a lot for some of these concepts but some others can handle that many without problem. A “hover” is a good way to handle a lot. Heat lamps can be set up to handle a lot, but not with bins that size. Methods using emitters or heating pads will probably require splitting them up. But they all can work if set up right.

    One big question is when do you plan to put them out with no supplemental heat? Most chicks are fully feathered at 4 to 5 weeks, they can handle really cold temperatures after they have fully feathered. But there are some things that affect that. If you feed them a chick Starter, maybe a 20% protein, they will feather out well. You could feed them a higher protein feed, up to 24%, but I find that unnecessary. They will grow faster on the higher protein feed though. For the first 4 to 5 weeks I suggest you do not drop below a 20% protein feed.

    Chicks exposed to colder weather will acclimate faster and better than chicks kept at a steady subtropical or tropical temperature. If you can expose your chicks to colder temperatures even for short periods of time you are ahead of the game. Some people take their chicks outside for short periods to help with this.

    How well is the coop they go to protected from breezes at their level and how good is the ventilation. This sounds kind of conflicting, but a coop with good breeze protection low and a lot of open ventilation up high works great.

    Another wintertime issue if you brood where the temperature can dip below freezing like I do is that water can freeze. You need a way to handle that. People do it all the time, I use rubber bowls filled with rocks so they can’t get in and drown and keep that in the area heated by my heat lamps so it doesn’t freeze. Some people use heated waterers.

    That’s basically the differences I can think of in brooding this time of year. If you are brooding in some climate controlled area with steady temperatures the brooding part isn’t that different from warmer weather but moving them outside might be.

    I built this 3’ x 6’ brooder in my unheated coop and brood chicks in it year around. I’m collecting eggs right now to put in the incubator in a couple of days. In the summer it is really open. In winter I wrap it really well with plastic but that chimney to the left where I keep a heat lamp still provides good ventilation. One summer in a heat wave I turned the daytime heat off at 2 days, the nighttime heat went off at 5 days. Their body language told me they did not need it and they did not. That was with low wattage heat lamps. This time of year I’ll probably keep the heat on until five weeks with two 250 watt heat lamps. I can get temperatures in the single digits or below, but I can also get temperatures in the 60’s. Some mornings I’ll find ice in the far reaches of this brooder but the end the chicks are on is warm enough. When weather like that is forecast I often unplug one of the heat lamps and raise the other higher in that chimney to keep it a bit cooler. The chicks just go to the far end.

    I’ve taken chicks out of this brooder and put them in my grow-out coop at five weeks with the nighttime lows in the mid 40’s. I’ve had chicks less than 6 weeks old go through nights in the mid 20’s with no heat. I’ve never lost one or had frostbite problems so I’m obviously being quite safe. But I raise mine in a manner so I can put them out early.


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