How important is temperature to feathering out?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Jeffross1968, Nov 21, 2011.

  1. Jeffross1968

    Jeffross1968 Songster

    May 14, 2011
    Smoky Mountains
    We've been hatching out chicks since September, brooding them in the house for 4 weeks or so, and then putting them outside. Last week, we received a couple small chicks from another source locally, and were surprised to find that those chicks, half the size of ours, have already feathered out. We didn't talk to the lady about it, but we talked about inside brooding and she acted like it was alien to her. I'm relatively sure she had the chicks outside the whole time.

    So we're wondering...keeping them inside and warm, rarely letting the temps go below 68 for the first 4 weeks...are they slower at feathering?

  2. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Crowing Premium Member

    I honestly don't know a specific answer, because we've brooded outside (barn), always. The chicks which are brooded outside have access to much cooler portions of the large, oversized brooder we use. I find feathering speed to be more a feature of each breed. But since I've never brooded the entire 6 weeks inside a warm house, I really cannot make an educated guess. I am unaware of any Ag School studies on this. It poses an interesting question.
  3. gritsar

    gritsar Cows, Chooks & Impys - OH MY!

    Nov 9, 2007
    SW Arkansas
    IMO, nature provides chicks with what they need to survive. If they need feathers they will get feathers, but sometimes at the expense of growth rate. They divert energy needed to grow into growing feathers instead. I normally brood chicks outside (but with a heat lamp) and most if not all of them would feather out by 4 weeks old. Currently I am raising two special chicks in a brooder in the house. I took their heat lamp away from them at 4 weeks old, when it appeared that they were done feathering out. Hard to judge feathering out on these two since they are part silkie. At any rate they have done fine without their heat lamp. We keep out house @ 68 degrees in the daytime and a bit cooler at night.
  4. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe Free Ranging

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    I too am unaware of extensive research on the subject but it makes common sense that an animal exposed to cooler temps would develop a coat sooner than those that don't.
    This is true of mammals and birds.

    I always brood in unheated buildings, provide localized heat but lots of access to cool areas. I avoid brooding in hot conditions.
  5. dolly85

    dolly85 Songster

    Jun 1, 2010
    Our last batch of chicks we kept 5 inside to keep as friendly pets and put the rest outside. 30 chicks in the house is just waaaaay too much mess lol! They are 7 weeks now and the 5 have gone outside with the others. All BREEDS feathered out at the same rate regardless of being inside or out. The EE chicks feathered out the fastest, and the langshan chicks were the slowest.
  6. I try to keep my chicks fairly cool, seems to decrease problems with infections and picking. I get them outside as soon as possible, too. Mine usually feather out pretty fast, around 3-4 weeks, except the Cornish X. Either they just use all their energy for growing or they don't get cold, because they are bald it seems like forever. I have some I'm processing right now at 9 weeks that still have bald butts and pin feathers.
    I don't use medicated feed so I don't want the brooder too hot. I think heat allows infections and parasites such as cocci to grow more easily. Of course, I don't chill my chicks, either. I give them a heat source but wean it away as quickly as possible, watching their behavior rather than the actual temp.
    I have a batch of 7 week old chicks, including three silkies, who have been outside since two weeks of age. Nights have been down into the 40s. I had a heat lamp on the silkies at night for the first week outside and then took it away because I noticed they were sleeping at the other end of the tractor from the lamp. I haven't lost a single chick from this batch of about 35.

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