How to put chicks safely outside in cold coop?

LadyCraig

Songster
Sep 3, 2017
63
131
121
Virginia
Hello!

I have a bunch of little guys (8 chicks at 7 weeks) in my basement that I would really like to move outside...ahem...I am sure you know why. However, the weather just started getting really cold during the days too. I have a cozy coop heater and have an infrared bulb “safely” hung over roost... I put an outside thermometer in the coop to test but the coop still gets about as cold as outside at night. New coop, new chickens so no adults to snuggle. The coop is rather large 8’x6’ (thanks hubby!) so I think that is why the heating still doesn’t do much. Should I wait a few more weeks? Thanks for opinions!

Screenshot of forecast 🥶

6C4A2EDA-CAAB-4542-8074-84545EF95046.jpeg
 

mcdze

Songster
Sep 9, 2020
327
454
128
i think theyll be fine, but what i would do is put them in just during the day for a couple of days and back in the box at night with a sheet over it or something so they sleep ... just to get them used to the change .. after maybe 3 days they should be good full time out there ..
 

LadyCraig

Songster
Sep 3, 2017
63
131
121
Virginia
i think theyll be fine, but what i would do is put them in just during the day for a couple of days and back in the box at night with a sheet over it or something so they sleep ... just to get them used to the change .. after maybe 3 days they should be good full time out there ..
Thanks for the input!
 

wyoDreamer

Free Ranging
11 Years
Nov 10, 2010
5,579
10,404
571
NE Wisconsin
Can you put their box out there for them to sleep in at night. My chicks are in the barn from day 1, but they have a Mamma-Heating-Pad for the first 4 weeks or so. No heat for them after 5 weeks old. Your chicks should be fully feathered by now and will be able to take the cold temps. If they are cold, they will snuggle together for warmth and a box will help to hold in their body heat.

You could also put the box near/under the heating lamp, remove the top so the heat can get in and cut a large hole in one side so they can come and go as they want. It is just an area that will be draft free that they can warm up in. Make sure that the box is far enough away from the heat lamp that it is not going to catch fire.

How cool is it in your basement? they should be off the heat lamp by now, right?
 

Ridgerunner

Crossing the Road
12 Years
Feb 2, 2009
28,044
22,686
907
Southeast Louisiana
Good suggestions above. I've had 5-1/2 week old chicks go through nights in the mid 20's F with no supplemental heat. They were in my grow-out coop which has great ventilation up high and great breeze control down low where they are but no heat. I think the quality of the coop (ventilation and breeze protection) are important in any coop where it gets truly cold.

Mine had been acclimated as my brooder was in the coop. I kept one end toasty but the far end sometimes had ice in it so they were used to cold.

So take them out for a while a couple of days and see how they react. If a cold wind is hitting them they will not like it. If they are out of the wind you may be surprised at how well they handle cold. This is as much for your benefit as theirs. You need to build up your confidence that they can handle it. At seven weeks I think they will be fine in those temperatures in a decent coop.

If they have never been in total darkness that might freak them out. They may chirp for about 15 minutes or so, then quiet down. If they have not seen total darkness yet turn the lights off in that basement at bedtime tonight and leave them alone for a while. They will get used to it.

I've seen chickens sleep in trees when it was below 0 F, well below freezing. They were in a sheltered spot, not out in the wind. Think how great the ventilation was with them sitting on a tree limb. Once they are feathered out they can handle cold really well with their down coats but a little acclimatizing is a good idea.

Let us know what you do and how it goes.
 

21hens-incharge

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
26,735
111,089
1,722
Northern Colorado
If concerned about the overall temp of the coop please relax a bit.

They need a warm up spot not a warm coop while acclimating to the outside temps. As long as they have a warm up spot they will be ok.

Eventually you will want to take that spot away too. ;)

I had young ones this fall. They had a warm up zone and were allowed access to their run. The more that me they spent zipping around the more they were ready for that heat to be removed.
 

LadyCraig

Songster
Sep 3, 2017
63
131
121
Virginia
Can you put their box out there for them to sleep in at night. My chicks are in the barn from day 1, but they have a Mamma-Heating-Pad for the first 4 weeks or so. No heat for them after 5 weeks old. Your chicks should be fully feathered by now and will be able to take the cold temps. If they are cold, they will snuggle together for warmth and a box will help to hold in their body heat.

You could also put the box near/under the heating lamp, remove the top so the heat can get in and cut a large hole in one side so they can come and go as they want. It is just an area that will be draft free that they can warm up in. Make sure that the box is far enough away from the heat lamp that it is not going to catch fire.

How cool is it in your basement? they should be off the heat lamp by now, right?
Thanks for the tip about putting them inside a smaller area near the heat. My basement is pretty warm, about 65* so they have been off the heater. My coop wasn’t totally done when they hatched so that is why they have been inside so long and now my dilemma about transitioning!
 

LadyCraig

Songster
Sep 3, 2017
63
131
121
Virginia
Good suggestions above. I've had 5-1/2 week old chicks go through nights in the mid 20's F with no supplemental heat. They were in my grow-out coop which has great ventilation up high and great breeze control down low where they are but no heat. I think the quality of the coop (ventilation and breeze protection) are important in any coop where it gets truly cold.

Mine had been acclimated as my brooder was in the coop. I kept one end toasty but the far end sometimes had ice in it so they were used to cold.

So take them out for a while a couple of days and see how they react. If a cold wind is hitting them they will not like it. If they are out of the wind you may be surprised at how well they handle cold. This is as much for your benefit as theirs. You need to build up your confidence that they can handle it. At seven weeks I think they will be fine in those temperatures in a decent coop.

If they have never been in total darkness that might freak them out. They may chirp for about 15 minutes or so, then quiet down. If they have not seen total darkness yet turn the lights off in that basement at bedtime tonight and leave them alone for a while. They will get used to it.

I've seen chickens sleep in trees when it was below 0 F, well below freezing. They were in a sheltered spot, not out in the wind. Think how great the ventilation was with them sitting on a tree limb. Once they are feathered out they can handle cold really well with their down coats but a little acclimatizing is a good idea.

Let us know what you do and how it goes.
Ice in the broader! Brrrr! Thanks for the reassurance... I guess we will have to do some field trips!! I would have moved them sooner but I have been obsessively predator proofing. The coop is pretty draft free with windows shut.
 

LadyCraig

Songster
Sep 3, 2017
63
131
121
Virginia
If concerned about the overall temp of the coop please relax a bit.

They need a warm up spot not a warm coop while acclimating to the outside temps. As long as they have a warm up spot they will be ok.

Eventually you will want to take that spot away too. ;)

I had young ones this fall. They had a warm up zone and were allowed access to their run. The more that me they spent zipping around the more they were ready for that heat to be removed.
Thanks! That makes me feel better that it is just their little area to warm up regardless of total coop temp. And, Yes I planned to wean them off the outside heat, just was worried about initial shock/stress. I think they will be happier to interact once I’m not the big scary monster reaching into their safe brooder box!
 

21hens-incharge

Moderator
BYC Staff
Premium Feather Member
7 Years
Mar 9, 2014
26,735
111,089
1,722
Northern Colorado
Thanks! That makes me feel better that it is just their little area to warm up regardless of total coop temp. And, Yes I planned to wean them off the outside heat, just was worried about initial shock/stress. I think they will be happier to interact once I’m not the big scary monster reaching into their safe brooder box!

A couple of mine (now 14 weeks old) actually come running to "the treat lady" then I go in their coop. It is nice when they finally realize you are not going to maul them.

I look forward to hearing how it goes for your chicks.
 

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