How old to stay outside?

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Ecoria, Dec 11, 2012.

  1. Ecoria

    Ecoria Out Of The Brooder

    Aug 22, 2012
    Glen Allen, VA
    how old do chicks need to be before they can be kept outside full time? I'm wanting to acquire some more hens but can't seem to find any of laying age, and don't know how young i can get and not have to keep them inside (my house is too crowded as it is, lol).
  2. sumi

    sumi Égalité Staff Member

    Jun 28, 2011
    Rep of Ireland
    Chicks are usually full feathered by the time they are 6 weeks old. This is when most people move them outside. But it is important that they gradually get used to cooler temperatures first, so if you buy young chicks try and find out what conditions they were kept in, for example if they were still under a heat lamp.
  3. Chickenkate17

    Chickenkate17 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 1, 2010
    Just hatched need to be in about 95 degree heat. Then you can decrease the heat by 5 degrees each week. Then start leaving them out during the day, bringing them in at night. If you just do it gradually they should be fine. Don't leave them out overnight until they have their adult feathers.
  4. countrygirl74

    countrygirl74 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Oct 19, 2012
    Northern Arizona
    I waited a little too long to put mine out and they started hurting each other. I was leaving them outside during the day with temperatures fluctuating for about a week or two between 55-65, but bringing them in at night. I had 6 in one rubbermaid and another 6 in another. They turned 8 weeks old just a few days ago and someone with more experience than me suggested to go ahead and put them outside. I was hesitant because the temps at night were dipping to 15 and no higher than 30 and I am not providing heat in my coop. I kept my 3 injured hens inside of course as they were being treated with neosporin, etc. but I put the other 6 hens out, along with 3 little silkies. I closed them into the coop with some food and water and a nice bed of straw. I went and checked on them at midnight because I was so worried, but they were all sleeping in a huddle and felt toasty warm. In the morning when I went to check on them, they were already playing around the coop house, waiting for me to bring some water as their water was frozen. They were in and out all day today as it was about 55 with a cold wind blowing. Tonight is their second night and when it got dark, they all went right into their bed of straw and went to sleep. And... no more injured hens!
    1 person likes this.
  5. ChickenCanoe

    ChickenCanoe True BYC Addict

    Nov 23, 2010
    St. Louis, MO
    IMHO, if you have a way to get electric to a building or another way to generate heat it is the day they come out of the hatcher.
    It's true they need warmth but that doesn't mean they need to stay in the house.

    My brooder house is actually an unheated, uninsulated 8X12 storage shed I converted for chick brooding. I use a couple homemade hover brooders. Each have 2 ceramic sockets for heat lamps or ceramic infrared elements. I never check the temperature under there because I know it is close to 100 near the lamps and gets cooler the farther away they go. All sides are open so they can move in and out. I make sure there are always 2 heat elements in case one fails.
    Each brooder is about 30"X48" and can brood about 75 chicks.
    If the outside temps approach the teens or lower and the inside temp hits the low 30s or below I turn a propane heat element on low and within an hour the building is in the 60s.
    The chicks are much healthier and happier this way. They have plenty of space to explore, they can get away from the heat and they feather out much better and faster.
    Right now there are 50 freedom rangers in a brooder. They turned one week old yesterday and the building got into the 30s the last 3 nights. The chicks are doing great running in and out just like they had a big hen in a cold space. I have 3 more batches of chicks going into a separate brooder in the next 3 weeks.
    I also feed them somewhere between 22 and 24 % protein the first few weeks.
    I decided to do it this way based on observations of hens and chicks. A broody hen doesn't make the ambient air temp 90 degrees. She provides a warm spot for the chicks to return to when they get chilled but after the first week they spend most of the time outside regardless of the temperature returning to her occasionally to warm up. So the brooder in a cool building works the same way.
    They aren't as fragile as people think. On more than one occasion I've had chicks ranging from 2 1/2 to 5 weeks escape into the woods late in the day and I couldn't find them. I always thought they were goners when temps got as low as 50 yet the next morning they'd always return to the coop to find their mom and siblings none the worse for wear.

    Furthermore, if I had chicks living in the house, that would be the day my wife would make sure I no longer had chickens.
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2012
    2 people like this.
  6. maidenwolfx80

    maidenwolfx80 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jul 26, 2012
    If you absolutely want laying age have you tried craigslist?
    Depending on the breed, some feather slower than others so be mindlful of this as well. When it is winter I so not put mine out, (and my house is a tiny single wide trailer that should have been taken to a dump years ago, with 4 people, 3 dogs, 1 cat and right now taking up my master bathroom is 4 of the 20 chicks that are slower feathering breeds, whether that be 6 weeks or beyond. Iwant them to be 100% feathered if they are going out with out a heat source.
  7. Fred's Hens

    Fred's Hens Chicken Obsessed Premium Member

    Chickens never need to be in a house. What they need is an age appropriate environment. Proper feed, temperatures while brooding, space, etc. Wherever that can be created.
  8. Runawaylobster

    Runawaylobster Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 2, 2012
    Redland/Homestead Fl
    I use a big metal horse trough as a brooder, heat lamp at one end. The brooder is on back patio
    out of the rain but it is not in the house. At night I wrap it up in a huge comforter including the top, the only
    open spot is a small area at the lamp end. I have had no problems with temps down into the 40's
    with this setup.
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012

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