How long do they have to be in the house?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by CheyAut, Nov 25, 2012.

  1. CheyAut

    CheyAut Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2012
    Near Phoenix, Az
    I'm new to chickens ect, got our first ones this year. We had them free ranged during the day, in a pen at night. Unfortunately we've lately had a coyote problem (we had to rehome our nigerian dwarf goats d/t coyotes killing three, within feet of our pyrenean mastiff/leonberger barking at them (she stays out at night but couldn't get in the goat pen, the coyotes did from the other side of the fence...Didn't leave until my husband ran out there when he heard the dog barking, her head was through the cattle panel fence, and the pen was only 16ft wide, so they are BRAVE coyotes!). Well, one night after the goats had been gone for close to a week, we didn't put the dog out and they dug under the chicken pen and killed my 5 chickens, 2 turkeys, 4 guineas and 5 of my 7 ducks (and 1 duck died later that day from his injuries) :(

    Anyhow, we are going to put chicken wire or soemthing under the entire chicken pen this week so the coyotes can't dig in, plus keep our dog out every night now. We did get another duck so our only survivor isn't alone. And a friend is giving me a turkey after we get the floor done (she got the turkey a couple years ago for her daughter to do 4H with, but daughter lost interest)

    So of course I want to get more chickens. I LOVED my birds SO MUCH. I cried and cried :( Anyhow, previously we got pullets that were old enough to immediately do the pen at night, free range at day deal. The guineas, a turkey, and some of the ducks we got as young'ens but not SUPER young. What we did with them is put them in this huge rabbit hutch we have, whcih is inside the chicken pen (that's where the two ducks are currently living until we get the flood done this week).

    I like a variety of chickens, rather than one breed. I want them to be different ;) So I was thinking of ordering from one of the hatcheries. I think it would be fun to raise them from tiny fuzzy chickies :) But, I don't know how to care for such young chicks. The feeder, waterer, lamp, I can get that, but what type of container can I keep them in? And how long would they have to live in my house before I can move them out to the rabbit hutch? I'm in Az so our winters are VERY mild. We're currently in the 70's/80's during the day, 50's at night. I would want to move them to the rabbit hutch inside the pen asap, so just need to know when that's safe to do so for them.

    Thanks for any help :)
     
  2. Demosthine

    Demosthine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jun 26, 2012
    Phoenix, Arizona
    You'll want to ensure they are starting at 95* for the first week and decrease the temperature by 5* each week afterwards. You won't want to put them outside for this winter weather until they are fully feathered, probably between 4 and 6 weeks. Personally, at four weeks, I would move them outside to the rabbit hutch and ensure a heat lamp is available at night for about a week. That will allow them to start getting acclimated to the colder weather, but still give them the opportunity to stay as warm or cold as they like. Put the heat lamp at one end of the hutch so that they have plenty of room to move to the other end if they are hot. After that, leave the heat lamp off and I think they'll do perfectly fine.

    Like you said, we have mild winters here in Arizona. There are many, many people who are keeping their chickens in sub-freezing temperatures with nothing more than an insulated coop. The girls are much more hardy than I expected and some even seem to thrive in the extreme cold. No matter what you choose, be sure to watch them and observe their behavior. They will tell you if they are too hot or too cold.

    By the way welcome to the Forum. Please join us in the Arizona Chickens thread. It is extremely long, but has a lot of great information in it. Jump to the end and join in. We're always looking for new people to welcome!

    Where abouts in Arizona are you? I'm North of Sun City.
     
  3. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    We brood ours in a plastic tote. A window screen on top that after a week or so the light rests on. Any thermometer will do, we temporarily use the outdoor porch thermometer, to adjust the light initially so the temp under it on tote floor is 95F. Paper towels is a good flooring for the first week or two until they get strong legs and are tall enough to drink and eat without filling the trays with pine shavings. Depending how many chicks your getting will determine the size of brooding box needed. If tote size you wont need a heat lamp. We use a 100W bulb in a clamp on metal shade drywall light. If we're experiencing a warmer than usual spring we lower the wattage to a 60W bulb. All easy to determine with a thermometer.

    Position your light on one end, that way the chicks can escape the heat as they need to. You'll witness as they grow how they don't need as much heat and can raise the light. After 2 to 3 weeks we start to turn off the light for periods of time during the day and extend time without light. At 4 weeks we don't have any lighting on them. They've feathered in enough to withstand our living room temperatures.

    The thing to think about is acclimating the birds to your outside temp. If you've a unheated or lower than house heated garage put the brooder out there for a week or two. If unheated then with a light at night for a week then no heat another week.


    Good luck,
    chicks are a lot of fun.
     
  4. Egghead_Jr

    Egghead_Jr Overrun With Chickens

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    Oct 16, 2010
    NEK, VT
    As for making your pen digger proof you should use hardware cloth. It does not need to stretch the entire footprint of the pen. If you attach it to the exterior base and either lay it flat out to let grass grow through it or dig a bit to place under the sod animals wont dig into your pen. A 18" apron is all you need. Animals attempt to dig right at the fence line and wont back up very much to re attempt. Chicken wire can be chewed through by racoons and coyote, hardware cloth can't be chewed through.
     
  5. CheyAut

    CheyAut Out Of The Brooder

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    Jul 8, 2012
    Near Phoenix, Az
    Thanks so much guys! :)

    Can you explain the hardware cloth a little more? I know WHAT you mean, but want to make sure I understand HOW to put it. We don't have any grass where the chicken pen is. If I understand correctly, it would be under the dirt a little bit, about 18" out (and connecting to) the base of the pen, on the outside? Is that right?

    I found the nearly 200 page thread on brooders, so I"m getting lots of ideas there :) Ideally I would like 6-10 chickens or so, though I need to see what the minimum order is for places. If I need to buy more, I may sell some to get to how many I want.

    I'm just west of Sun City, in El Mirage. My dad lives in Sun City :)

    So a regular light will work, doesn't need to be a heat lamp? If I were to use a tote that is. Being Christmas time, I"m goign to see if I can get a large Christmas tree tote.

    We actually don't heat our house. It can get pretty cold in there, but I just think it's silly to use a heater in Az ;) Doesn't get as cold inside as it does outside at night, but probably not too terribly far off! ETA: So, with that in mind, maybe I DO need a heat lamp? 2nd Edit: actually I have a room we keep at 75, so I can put them in there... so then just a regular light?
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012

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