Fall chicks rookie

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by BSKWchicks, Oct 1, 2015.

  1. BSKWchicks

    BSKWchicks New Egg

    Oct 1, 2015
    Hello , my chicks are 4 weeks old . From what I've read you can start to transition them to the coop at this time . Most that I've read though is from spring chicks where the weather is only going to get warmer. In my case the weather will only be getting cooler. I live in east tennessee and the Temps have been around upper 70's to lower 80's for the highs and 50's and 60's for low. My question is should I heat my coop ? Or at 5 to 6 week old chicks will they be OK ? Also being this the first winter coming up should I heat the coop all winter or just let them get used to it?
  2. oldhenlikesdogs

    oldhenlikesdogs Shazam Premium Member

    Jul 16, 2015
    central Wisconsin
    I start brooding at 85 degrees, lowering 5 degrees a week until brooder temperature and outdoor temperature is the same, so at 4 weeks they would be at 70 degrees, you certainly can stop providing heat during the day when temperature matches or they become fully feathered around eight weeks, I would provide some heat at night for a bit than quit, they should acclimate to outdoor temperature, I wouldn't recommend heating them all winter, you are in a mild climate as far as chickens is concerned. Good luck.
  3. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    SW Michigan
    My Coop
    Depends on how warm you've kept them in the brooder and how well they are feathered out. No, to any heat in coop.

    After the first few days I start lowering my brooder heat significantly by watching their behavior. They can take much lower temps than is often recommended and too much heat can actually lead to health issues.

    You can probably put them out in the coop now, I make a 'huddle' box once it turn the heat off at about 3 weeks: cardboard box just a bit bigger than they need to lay down together without piling, with a large opening in one side to get in and out and an inch or so of pine shavings to absorb poops. Offers a 'windbreak' to keep any drafts off of them and helps retain their body heat while resting/sleeping.

    Here's my notes on chick heat, hope something in there might help:
    They need to be pretty warm(~85-90F on the brooder floor right under the lamp and 10-20 degrees cooler at the other end of brooder) for the first day or two, especially if they have been shipped, until they get to eating, drinking and moving around well. But after that it's best to keep them as cool as possible for optimal feather growth and quicker integration to outside temps. A lot of chick illnesses are attributed to too warm of a brooder. I do think it's a good idea to use a thermometer on the floor of the brooder to check the temps, especially when new at brooding, later i still use it but more out of curiosity than need.

    The best indicator of heat levels is to watch their behavior:
    If they are huddled/piled up right under the lamp and cheeping very loudly, they are too cold.
    If they are spread out on the absolute edges of the brooder as far from the lamp as possible, panting and/or cheeping very loudly, they are too hot.
    If they sleep around the edge of the lamp calmly just next to each other and spend time running all around the brooder they are juuuust right!

    The lamp is best at one end of the brooder with food/water at the other cooler end of the brooder, so they can get away from the heat or be under it as needed. Wattage of 'heat' bulb depends on size of brooder and ambient temperature of room brooder is in. Regular incandescent bulbs can be used, you might not need a 'heat bulb'. You can get red colored incandescent bulbs at a reptile supply source. A dimmer extension cord is an excellent way to adjust the output of the bulb to change the heat without changing the height of the lamp.

    Or you could go with a heat plate, commercially made or DIY: https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/pseudo-brooder-heater-plate
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2015
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner True BYC Addict

    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    I was raised in East Tennessee, in the Cumberland Gap area. Sounds like you may be closer to Chattanooga with those current temps. My brother is seeing something different.

    As was mentioned different chicks feather out faster than others and they can normally handle cooler temps than people give them credit for. Some of the factors that determine how fast they feather out are heredity, diet, and what temps they are exposed to. The higher protein they eat the faster they feather out. That’s a big reason most Starters are 18% to 20% protein instead of the 16% usually in Layer feed. If they are exposed to cooler temps they feather put faster. In optimum conditions most chicks are fully feathered at four weeks. Even in fairly poor conditions most are fully feathered at five weeks.

    My brooder is in the coop. Chicks go in there straight from the incubator, even with outside temps below freezing. I heat one end but let the rest cool off as it will. Some mornings in winter there is ice on the far end but the end the chicks are in is pretty toasty. Even straight from the incubator they are pretty good about self-regulating where they want to be temperature-wise if given the option.

    Once they are feathered out your temperature worries are over. I’ve had chicks about five weeks old go through overnight lows below freezing. They do have good wind protection, they can get to where a breeze doesn’t hit them, which is important. But with just a teeny amount of help they really can handle cold temperatures well. Growing up we had some chicken that slept in trees and our overnight lows sometimes were below zero Fahrenheit. We had days it never got above zero. Once yours are feathered out, don’t heat the coop. All you are doing is taking a risk of burning it down. You are not helping your chickens.

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