How can I tell if they are "fully feathered" so they can go outside?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by PacsMan, Feb 16, 2009.

  1. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    My new chicks will be 3 weeks old on Wednesday, and they seem to be doing great. But I’m itch'n to get them outside in the new chicken tractor we built.

    I know they aren't fully feathered right now, as they still have down on the backs of their necks and heads. But, their wings seem to be all feathers. What is the last spot I need to look for, that will grow feathers?

    Not that I'm doing this, but I read somewhere here that if you change the 5 degrees decrease a week (95º first week, 90º seconds week, etc.) to 5 degrees every 4 or 5 days, that they will feather faster. Is this true? If so, will this cause early maturity, and lessen egg production?

    I think it's so cool when they stretch out their legs and wings at the same time. I can almost hear them growing!

  2. william9792

    william9792 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Nov 23, 2008
    graham, nc
    i always put mine out at 8 weeks of age, and they do fine. you can put them out for a short amount of time when it is warm when they are 4 week old, ( like when i clean the brooder out) hope this helps
  3. #1California Chick

    #1California Chick Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 5, 2008
    SF Bay Area
    I don't know what the temps are in Utah at this time. However, if you put them out for a while with a box (hole cut in the side) that they can retreat to -- you will know if it is too cold for them (they will all go back in the box together!!). If you put them out in a coop, you will still need a light to keep them warm!!

    Good Luck!!
  4. Lollipop

    Lollipop Chillin' With My Peeps

    Fully Feathered involves having their backs covered with feathers. Chicken lungs are located close to their backs, thereby making back feathers neccesary for the prevention of pneumonia.
  5. ItsSuzzie

    ItsSuzzie Chillin' With My Peeps

    I have read the same material as you. Lowering the temperature slowly, etc. I do not know if is causes any problems or not. I usually go 4 to 6 weeks. In any case, if you go outside with the babies...if it is too cold, they will retreat as stated by another to a box with a hole in it. They will also cry alot, or churp. When they are happy, they are quiet for the most part. Temperatures are real low right now. Just be careful. If they get to cold, they will die. Good luck to you.
  6. PacsMan

    PacsMan Chillin' With My Peeps

    Feb 8, 2009
    Salt Lake Valley
    Quote:This is the most informative answer yet!

    Thanks all…

    Temps in Utah are in the 30s and 40s right now. It’s still too cold to let them out. But, there are times during the day when the sun is shining, birds are singing, and I think, “wow, should I run and get the chicks out for a minute?” And then it clouds up and reminds me it’s still February.

    They’re in a 35 gallon tub right now, and it’s getting a wee bit cozy. I just put in a perch which they love, but that takes up more real estate. I built what I call a “mini-tractor” about 6 feet long and 3 feet wide, where I’ll put them out first, but I’ll watch for the back feathers and wait another week or so.

    Thanks for all of the advice. BYC is awesome!

  7. bigmike&nan

    bigmike&nan Chillin' With My Peeps


    Our guys are 4 weeks and change, heck almost 5 weeks old, baby bantam cochins (blue and black mottled). We had the 6 of them in a dog carrier. It got awfully close. We brought our Chicken Hutch up from the basement and they love it. Thye play their asses off and obiviously are very happy. They are starting to really feather out, but we're very, very careful with the temps.

    Is there any way you can get that tractor in the house... Most doors are about 3 ft. wide... You could put them in the tractor and they'd be safe.

    I read these threads, I think of my little babies and I always encourage people to play it on the safe side. Yeah they are driving you crazy, but they are precious little souls. And by taking them on you are responsible for their lives... Be safe. And like they say on the guitar forums I haunt....


    Michael (and Nan)


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