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I made a decision!!! (About going outside)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by Airilith, Dec 24, 2009.

  1. Airilith

    Airilith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2009
    Eastern Shore, VA
    My chicks are two days past 6 weeks today. I've been toying with putting them outside overnight for the first time. Their brooder's at 50 degrees, which is the lowest I can get it inside. And they've been spending all day in the coop outside lately at about 40 degrees, with no problems. They're beginning to outgrow their brooder, so it's really time that they get out to the coop. I have no other birds in the coop to worry about, it's just the winter temperatures. We've been averaging 40 during the day and about 25-30 degrees at night. That cold has been making me think at least twice about when they should go out.

    But I've been granted a Christmas wish it seems. Weather.com is calling for a high of 53 degrees and a low of 51!!!! Woot! Could it get any better than that for the end of December? The family thinks I'm a little nuts because I've informed them that I'll need an hour tomorrow morning to get them all set before we leave for my aunt's house for Christmas dinner, but I can't pass this up. And it seems like Saturday is shaping up to be another good transition day with a high of 55 and a low of 40.

    I do have a heatpad in one corner of the coop if they get too cool. I'm also considering sneaking a 2 liter bottle or two of hot water in the coop after I get back from Christmas dinner. I'm probably overthinking it as usual, but they're my lil chickies and it's their first night outside. Hehe!

    So what are your thoughts? Am I forgetting anything?

    Merry Christmas my BYC friends [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
  2. jemagsy

    jemagsy Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sounds like you've thought everything through and have been working on acclimating them to the cold. One thing you may want to rethink though is the artificial heat. If the birdies are fully feathered out they shouldn't need it and it may cause more problems than solutions. 1) If the power goes out and they are all huddled up on that heating pad the temp is going to drop probably more rapidly than would occur naturally this will not give your chickies enough time to adjust. 2) Any time you add heat and wood together you risk the potential for fire, I don't think you're in nearly as much danger as you would be with a brooder light but wanted to mention it just in case. Now there are many many people who use the artificial heat without any problems, but it never hurts to be cautious either. Just remember if your coop is tight and there is no to minimal drafts then heat should not be a problem for a fully feathered birds especially in the temps you're talking about. My hubby and I have 9 birds in one coop and two in another with no artificial heat or ac year round, just watch your drafts and make sure you replace their water anytime it freezes. We usually get babies in the spring around March/April so they are a good size before winter kicks in, hopefully someone whose raised the babies in winter before will be able to answer with winter-baby specific info. Finally, just make sure you're coop is very secure and again draft-free (draft=low, vent=high). Check inside and see if you can put your thumb through any cracks - if you can do that a weasel can fit through the cracks as well.

    Hope this helps - sounds like you've thought this through and have considered the possibilities. Keep an eye on your weather, your water, and your babes. Good night and good luck!
     
  3. Airilith

    Airilith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2009
    Eastern Shore, VA
    Thanks Jem!

    I'm really only planning on using the heatpad for the first week (at most) outside. I just figured that transitioning from a steady 50 degrees to anywhere from 25-50 degree nights would be a bit hard on them. So at least they have a small place to go to get a little heat for a few days.

    But you make a wonderful point. I really don't want to rely on the supplemental heat for them. If the power goes out, which it does alot out here, I don't want to have to worry about how they'll handle it.

    Have a very Merry Christmas, and thanks again!
     
  4. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Northern CA
    My Coop
    [​IMG]

    They'll be fine. I put mine out at 6 weeks with a heat lamp, but we ended up with snow followed by 3 nights of 14 degrees. With the heat lamp, it kept it just above freezing inside the coop (water didn't freeze)and they were fine. ETA: Now that the cold spell is over, they are done with the lamp.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 25, 2009
  5. JCoogle

    JCoogle Chillin' With My Peeps

    I made the tough decision as well. We had afew days above 60 and the lows around 50. A cold front came thru last night and it dropped to about 20. I went out and let them all out this morning and I think they like the cold air. I have never seen them play like they have this morning.
     
  6. Airilith

    Airilith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2009
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    Well we got home from dinner last night at around 10pm. So I helped unpack the truck, fed the dogs, and rushed over to the farm to check on the chicks.

    I pulled up to the coop, and turned my brights on so I could see all around it. A sight much like this (minus the sunlight, and plus hardware cloth and coon proof latches):

    [​IMG]

    No coons, phew! Before I could even get out of the car Elmo (my RIR male) sticks his head in the window. Yay! One of them is okay! I got out and walked over and shined my flashlight in the window. They are all snuggled up together on the ledge right next to the window. Toooooo cute! I opened the door to check on them further. They were all warm and looking great, until the wind blew just right to send some rain on them. They didn't like that, poor things. I closed the door back up, did a check all around to make sure there were no signs of entry attempts. It was all good. By time I finished that they had all settled back down to sleep.

    Yay! I'm the proud owner of outdoor chickens. Now I'll just have to let them out in their run for the first time, perhaps tomorrow. [​IMG]
     
  7. Happy Chooks

    Happy Chooks Moderator Staff Member

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    Jul 9, 2009
    Northern CA
    My Coop
    [​IMG] Congrats! Now the egg wait begins.


    My next issue is integration. I let the older ones out to free range, and they all ignored the babies (in their own run) EXCEPT my BR. She stood right at the fencing, puffing up her neck feathers and giving the intimidation squawk. So I'm going to have to keep an eye on her when I integrate the babies.
     
  8. Airilith

    Airilith Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Sep 28, 2009
    Eastern Shore, VA
    I'm sooo glad I don't have to worry about that yet. I'm not planning on having to intergrate chicks until spring, when I think I'll probably end up getting some feed store chicks. And even then I'm hoping to have a broody to play surrogate for me. [​IMG]
     

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