Help can my chicks live outside yet?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Nicoliosis5, May 31, 2016.

  1. Nicoliosis5

    Nicoliosis5 Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    New England
    Hello all! I asked this a few days ago and got a pretty unanimous response, but I am totally a paranoid chicken-mom and have to ask again to be sure!

    We have 7 barred rocks.
    They are almost 5 weeks old.
    They are currently living in a closet in the house.
    The heat lamp has been OFF for over a week, but the house still maintains 65º - 80ºF inside.

    We have 1 more quick task on their coop before it's finished and want to know if they can go out to live permanently tonight

    My concern is that over the next week-ish, the overnight low a couple of times will be in the (high) 40's and I thought that would be too cold for them at this age. But I also have no idea what I'm talking about.

    Here is the 10 day forecast for our area:

    Also here is what our babies are looking like theses days:


    They have almost all feathers but some little fluffy spots left on their head/necks

    What does everyone think?

    Thank you all in advance :)

  2. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp Chillin' With My Peeps

    Mar 25, 2009
    South Alabama
    How big is the coop? If you could hang your brooder lamp close to the floor of the coop (and the floor area is large enough) they could self-regulate the auxiliary heat. It would give you a chance to see if they needed the heat or not without endangering them...they could move under it or move away from it. If the coop is really large, then make a brooder ring constructed out of some cardboard boxes to contain them and keep them from getting lost in the far reaches might be needed.

    Best wishes,
  3. Nicoliosis5

    Nicoliosis5 Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    New England
    We were hoping not to have to use the lamp outside as we don't have power out to the coop and I'm very nervous of fire hazards.

    The coop is small, 5x5 with a 12×5 run.
  4. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    Nicole. First, take a deep breath, and RELAX! They are more uncomfortable at 80* than they will be outside cuddled up together at 49* at night. Have you taken them outdoors during the day? Hopefully, the answer is yes. That's the first step when taking chicks (that have been brooded inside) outside to live.

    Mama broody does not heat the entire outdoors for her babies. They run around and enjoy the current weather of the day, ducking under her protection for a quick warm up as needed. And, they need surprisingly little. By the time they are 3 weeks old, they may only duck under her at night. Some broodies kick their babies to the curb at 4 weeks, and they survive outside just fine.

    Many of us have shifted to the more natural brooding with a heating pad, and do it outside. I have asthma, and aside from a few days when I have a difficult hatch, and need to make some culling decisions, my babies are outside for good by the time they are 48 hours old.

    Your chicks will scream bloody murder when you first move them into the coop, and then... you'll think a bear is ripping their wings off when evening is approaching, and they have to sleep in a strange place. "Oh horrors!!!" Let them scream! They don't like change. The move and first night will go better for them if you give them a cuddle box. Make it big enough that they can all fit in comfortably. Make the door big enough that 2 can get in/out at the same time. And line it with a nice layer of hay. Set it in the darkest corner of their coop. Be sure you don't let them have access to nest boxes until they are ready to start laying. Let them keep their cuddle box for a week or so, then take it away. This will force them to start using the perches at night.

    I thought you might enjoy this post from Azygous. She broods outside with a heating pad. Here's her latest update on her little chickies:

    Update on the azygous four. The little show-offs went on walk-about outside the run today. These squirts are waaaay more precocious than any chicks I've had in a long while. Usually chicks hang out inside the run, not feeling brave enough to tackle the huge world outside until they're closer to five or six weeks. These guys turned three weeks today,

    They spent a good long time "free-ranging" so I figured tonight was as good a time as any to move them into the coop. So I moved their MHP in and some food and water and invited the four chicks to explore the inside of their coop two hours before bedtime.

    They did not freak out like last years chicks did over being in the completely strange new place, and they explored and had a good time until bedtime when I could hear them complaining 100 yards away. They needed to be shown that their cave was right there and when I stuck each one inside, they settled right down.
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  5. 3riverschick

    3riverschick Poultry Lit Chaser

    May 19, 2009
    western PA
    My Coop
    Hi Nicole, [​IMG]
    The Barred Rock was bred to survive cold weather. Their breasts are completely feathered so no heat needed at all now . Turn off the light. Yes, put them outside now. They will be just fine. If you like, it would be good to add some Bovidr Labs Poultry Nutri-Drench to their water for the next week while they are adjusting to their new environment. Great stuff. Doesn't need to be digested, mainlines directly into the bloodstream to give them an extra nutritional boost of energy. A wonderful nutritional supplement for times of transition ( shipping, laying, brooding, sickness, change of scenery )anytime their G.I. tracts might be stressed a bit by a change in their lifestyle. I raised lovely, robust chicks using just it and feed. Buy the smallest bottle at Tractor Supply or your feed store. Make the water look like very weak tea. The chicks will be just fine!
    Best Success,
    Last edited: May 31, 2016
  6. jennyf

    jennyf Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 24, 2016
    I was in almost exactly the same boat as you about a month ago. Same temps and 6 week old chicks. I did a light the first night and nobody was under it, pulled it the next day and they did great. Even got down to 40 one night. I didn't take into account that the coop held daytime heat, too--it's not like the temp in there drops like a rock as soon as the sun goes down. By morning, when it was starting to get a little chilly, the sun was coming out to start warming them up again. Two of mine are barred rocks too. :) They will love getting to explore their new coop (after the first day of being scaredy chickens, to prepare you for that too)...
  7. azygous

    azygous True BYC Addict

    Dec 11, 2009
    Colorado Rockies
    I completely understand how our OP is feeling. It's unnerving when you need to move your chicks, whom you've nurtured so carefully for weeks, to new living quarters. Even if you're pretty certain they'll be warm enough, you worry about the stress you're putting them through.

    Yes, chicks complain, and very loudly, when they are subjected to change of any kind. It's in their contact, for heaven's sake! But, being chicks, they adjust very quickly and will be so much happier because of the move.

    My chicks turned three weeks old yesterday, and it's still very cool where I live, the high 40s at night and high 60s during the day. But the chicks spend very little time under their heat source except for at night. Instead, they are indulging their curiosity and exploring this new world into which they've been hatched. The more space chicks have, the happier they are and the more they learn.

    My chicks handled their first night in their coop just great. Since this morning was very chilly, I served them breakfast in the coop while I rigged up another heating pad cave in their panic room. When I had it all set up, I opened their coop and gave them the opportunity to come out. They weren't ready yet and hung back inside the coop. If they don't go out soon, a hen needing to lay an egg will go in there and motivate them.

    Go ahead and put you babies in the coop a couple hours before bedtime so they can get familiar with the coop and won't freak out due to being in a new place. When bedtime comes, they will be in a place they trust. The chicks should settle in and they will find a place to cuddle up and go to sleep. Aart's "huddle box" would be a great transition device to provide security and warmth for the first few night. It's just a simple cardboard box with an ample opening and large enough for all to fit in. They will cuddle and supply each other with all the warmth they need and you won't need to mess with a heat lamp.
  8. yyz0yyz0

    yyz0yyz0 Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    My Broody abandoned her brood at just over 3wks old, they've been on their own outside since then. They don't seem to be showing any ill effects from being on their own even at that young age. Of course we're having unusual warm weather but it's supposed to cool off a little again.

    Yours are much older and fuller feathered than mine, so I'm sure they'll be fine.
  9. Nicoliosis5

    Nicoliosis5 Out Of The Brooder

    May 19, 2016
    New England
    Thank you all for the reassurances!! They have been outside with me all day in a 4x4 cube I fashioned out of some pallet wood. This is their third time outside and they seem to enjoy it more than they did the first couple times! Scratching up the grass and piddling around :) I think We will leave them out until it starts to get dark and bring them back inside for the night. We will probably be putting them out to coop tomorrow!!
  10. jnr005

    jnr005 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 10, 2016
    I moved mine outside at 3 weeks with a heating pad. By 4.5 weeks the heating pad was turned off and they are doing just fine. I just make sure there are no drafts in the coop at night and they all snuggle together for warmth. This last week has finally been warm enough they just do their thing.

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