How long can they stay inside


9 Years
Jan 2, 2011
I'm contemplating getting some 2-week old chicks. I can make a brooder for them with a pack-n-play lined with a shower curtain and a heat lamp, but how long would 6 chicks fit in there? I've never raised chicks inside before. I don't have anywhere to put them outside and wouldn't feel comfortable with it, since it's just now getting to be "winter" here. (We do have a coop but have mature chickens living there and don't want to put the littles in with them

So . . . how long could I keep them in that brooder? I could potentially turn our laundry room or play room into an area for them for a little bit of time. How long before the smell gets too bad? At what age do *you* normally put them outside without a warmer (considering that it will be a couple of months before it warms up). I live in the South if that helps any.
I am in SC with three bantam chicks living in an XL plastic dog crate. They aren't fully feathered so they're still inside. Once they get enough feathers to get along outside they'll move to the storage room, but that's probably going to be another month or more. They're already 8 weeks and the slowpoke roo is only half feathered...

Considering that the cold weather JUST showed up, I'd say plan to have them inside until March if they're only 2 weeks old. Unless they get all their feathers more quickly than mine are... You will need to make sure to condition them for being outside without a heat lamp - while they're inside, decrease the heat until they are just at indoor temperature, and I think moving them to a garage or draft-free shed as a "middle step" is a good idea to get them growing enough feathers to tolerate 20-degree nights. There's lots of molting involved while they're growing out feathers so you want to make sure they're growing feathers in for winter temperatures (which won't happen if they're living at 65-70 degrees in a house).
I am in WV and it was 16 here last night with 26 yesterday and not much warmer today. Mine are around 6 weeks --with their momma---BUT-they all run around all day inside and out--they do cuddle up at night with momma but are running all day on their own. I see them sleep in the sun in the coop or nap in the shavings-they have alot of thier feathers but not near all of them. My little roos are slower too. I am back and forth alot and have not seen them huddle under mom during the day for 3 weeks now. they are tougher than you think. Matter of fact when I went to put them all up last night 2 of the little ones were on the lowest roost-tickled me(they act like they are all big and bad)-I gathered them up and put them with mom in their little broody area that I still put them in at night. They nestled in with her with no complaints.
Yes you should manage the smell very well provided that you clean them out regularly and just remove the odd surface poo. Have the shavings fairly deep so that when they run over it they scuff their poos into it.
Gradually take the heat away by slowly lifting the bulb each week by a couple of inches until you feel safe to turn it off for a few hours during the day. But if one night the weather becomes much colder then you can switch it on for that night at the height you have last left it as comfort zone.
Remember chick gander which of course is the quills bursting as new feathers grow is like danddruff and is very dusty, do make sure that where ever you put them, it is easy for you to dust such things like lamp shades, ceilings, book cases etc., as it gets everywhere.
Good luck and a very enjoyable experience for you.

I had my chickens in a pack and play too! I had it in the laundry room,and then moved to the garage when the stink was bad despite cleaning. I think they were about 8 weeks when I moved them to the garage,because I remember the roo started to crow. During the day they went into a run,and then I moved them into the coop when they were around 16 or 18 weeks.This was all in June/July so temps were good.

I had the 6 in the playpen for a long while,but they would get outside time to do their chicken things,and only go in the playpen to sleep once bigger. I put bird netting over it secured with clothspins. If it were cold I would keep them inside,but I would probably not leave the food and water in the pen all day. Maybe get another playpen or dog crate so they have more room.
They should be fully feathered and ready for a cold outdoors in 6 to 8 weeks. They will feather faster if they grow up outside. By 4 weeks or so they should have 2 to 3 sq ft per chick. If you put them out at 6-8 weeks they will need a separate living space as they will be smaller than the adults who might very well kill them. In the south this can be a 3 sided shelter; you would probably want an attached wired yard for predator protection as well. You should know that most experienced chicken keepers will not raise chicks inside their home, not so much because of smell but because of the airborne and surface dust.

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