From brooder to coop questions


7 Years
May 24, 2012
My chicken coop is almost done, should be finished by tomorrow. The brooder is getting small as my chicks are getting big! I have 18 that are about 4.5 weeks and 7 chicks that are about 1.5 weeks. They do well together in the brooder but I don't want them to start getting irritated with lack of space.

One problem is that my run is not complete yet. It will probably take another 2 weeks to finish. The coop is big; about 12'x8'. I know it is way too early to bring the 1 week chicks out to the coop, and possibly too soon for the 4 week ones, but what if I bring the brooder out there and let the older ones go in and out of the brooder whenever they want while staying inside the coop? Several of the older ones have already made escape attempts. I wonder if this would help avoid a total separation because otherwise I would have to re-introduce them again in a few weeks and I want to avoid that.

Any thoughts on this, or other suggestions?

And as for the run, is it ok that I put them in the coop and just keep them locked in there until the run is finished? What if a few of them escape when I come to feed and water? Will they stay in the vicinity as a safe zone? How do I make sure they come back? I am nervous about free-ranging and want to avoid that, especially with them so young! The run will be really big when finished but for now I want them safely locked up.

I don't have electricity out there yet either and temps are kind of crazy up and down over the next week with night time lows in the 50's and 60's. With 25 chicks I would think they could stay warm, but if the older ones leave the brooder then I will only have 7 babies in the brooder, which could get cold.

What to do... what to do? Thanks for any advice!
Could you run one of those big orange outdoor extension cords for a light bulb? As long as you have a way to keep the little ones warm enough - and the coop is secure - why not?
I wouldn't worry too much if one should slip out. I have a 'play pen' outside for my brooders to go in while I'm cleaning. I put them in a small cage to travel between brooder and pen and one almost always gets away during the transfer. She never goes far from her buddies and if I stay still enough, she'll come within catching distance. I'm sure yours will do the same. A single chick is not happy and will do just about anything to get back to it's buddies.
You could always put up just enough of a little fenced area right around the door so that if 1 or 2 slip out, they can't get very far and will be easier to catch.
Well you are a nervous new chicken parent! All the questions you're asking are good ones though! First of all, They will be fine in the coop, as long as it doesn't get too hot. Now, of course the little ones still need heat, but the older ones, if they're fully feathered, will be fine.

Truly, just leave them inside until the run is finished, since it's only two weeks. No need to rock the boat just yet.

But if you really want them outside, maybe you could bring the whole brooder out, like you mentioned, and use one of those very long, outside extention cords so you can have a heat lamp in there, especially for the evening, since you've got the super young ones.

If the older ones are fully feathered, then they should be fine outside, and they'll cluster together for warmth during the night. But I'm concerned about the younger ones.

Now, when you go into the coop, you'll just have to be very careful. Chickens need a good two weeks inside a coop and run before you should let them free range. This two week period helps them get the feeling that the coop is their home, and then they'll automatically come home to roost at dusk.

With little chicks though, I won't let mine free range unless I'm watching. They're just so tiny they're easy prey to anything. But once the run is finished, you can let them out all day if you want, as long as it's secure. I start free ranging when my chickens pretty much look like adults, but are pullet sized. (A little smaller than a grown chicken).

First, I let them out just about an hour until dark, and I watch them play. They usually stay very close to the coop, running around it, and in and out of it. Gradually, I give them more free range time until they are adult sized. Then they get a half day outside.

Well, I hope this helps and have a great day.
Thank you so much for the responses! I *am* a nervous chicken mama! hahaha! I just dont want to mess up and harm any of them by doing the wrong thing. I thought my brooder would be big enough for a few more weeks, but now I am doubting that and trying to figure out a new plan. I just need to get my coop and run finished ASAP but I am at the mercy of a few other people.

Anyway I think I will keep them in the garage in the brooder where they are now for a few more days and then try them in the coop over the weekend. I can run an extension cord to the coop so I'll rig up something for the heat lamp.

I didn't know the deal about 2 weeks in the coop so thank you for telling me. I'm going to figure something out to make sure they dont escape when I try to get in the coop.

Last question... how do you keep your water container clean and functional? I use pine shavings for their bedding and have to clean out the can/tray and re-fill it at least 3 or 4 times a day. Then when I do that the chicks come running to drink like they are dying of thirst. I feel terrible but don't know how to keep the area clear so it will continue to dispense water. They kick bedding in to it and the shavings soak up all the water into a wet, poopy slop. Any tips? I have tried putting 2 water containers in there but they take up a lot of space.
We were nervous the first time we brought ours outside. Would they scatter & run away? Nope! They stood together in a clump and slowly started exploring as a group. They didn't go far at all.

I can't help you with your other questions because it sounds like you and I are at the same is nearly done, I've got 3 weekers, and I've never done this before either. Good luck to you!

Let us know how it goes.
Thanks! Good luck to you, too!
I put my waterer up on something. As they get taller I change it up so it's higher again. As long as the shortest ones can reach it to drink it's not too high. Right now I have sixteen CX that are one week old and the waterer is on an upside down tupperware container that's about an inch high. Next week I plan to use an upside down round cake pan.
I am in no way an expert add this is or first flock but we are definitely learning by experience. We have used several different methods to water our girls in the brooder but seem to have settled on the bottle with a nipple. It is keeping the shaving problem solved and is getting them trained for when they go to the coop.

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