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Lots of older chick questions! Please help a newbie out. :)

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by HouseMouseHens, Oct 7, 2012.

  1. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 31, 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop
    Hey guys, I have a couple questions. We brooder raised our thirteen girls in our garage with the heat lamp while we were building the coop and run, and moved the girls out to the coop as soon as we finished it (with the light). We just got the run done last weekend, and so now they are out during the days, and in the coop locked up at night. Their food and water is in the run.

    First question is, should we have some extra food/water in the coop for night time? When they come out in the morning, they bum rush the food and seem like they are starving!

    Second question is about them going in the coop at night. It took a few days of us popping them one by one out the chicken door for them to get going out in the morning, but now they are all lined up on the ramp waiting for me in the morning, and don't need any help. But at night time, they just pile up in the corner of the run next to the window that is closest to the light in the coop (the windows go all the way down to the ground), and don't even think to go inside. They know how, as they periodically go into the coop during the day, though not all of them do this. We have been going out after it's totally dark and putting them into the coop by hand, but I was wondering how we might work on sparking a mass exodus in the evenings so that we don't have to keep putting them all in every night. I guess at least it's easy since it's dark so they don't run away, but still...We have to be home when it gets dark every night so we can put them in.

    My next question is about roosting. As of now, they don't roost to sleep at all. They just pile up on the floor under the light to sleep. They can roost, and I have seen them up on the roosts before. And they have a roosting ladder out in their run that they use all the time, so what gives? Are they just too young?

    My last question is about the heat lamp. We have it in the coop, about three feet off the ground, and only at night. The girls are between 9 and 6 weeks old, and almost all are fully feathered. The older ones just look like small chickens, and the youngest two are only missing a few feathers on their heads/necks. We have one barred rock that while she is fully feathered, is still the size of a three or four week old chick(she's 8 weeks). It is still in the mid seventies here during the day (though they are in the shade so it's a bit cooler) and low to mid forties at night. Do they still need the heat lamp? I feel like they'll freeze if we take it out, but I don't know if that is true, or just me being worried.... I'd like to save the money on the electricity if we can, but I don't want them to be cold!
     
  2. KrisH

    KrisH Chillin' With My Peeps

     
  3. SuzanneW

    SuzanneW Out Of The Brooder

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    Oct 1, 2012
    France
    Hi there

    My husband and I have now had chickens for around 9 years, so I answer from that point of view - rather than a professional. Oh and the fact that for the most part, they are healthy.

    They have a house, but I don't lock up at night and so they go in unaided each evening. Some roost and some don't. It actually houses all our chickens; our three turkey's, 3 ducks and 2 ginny fowl and they all get on great together.

    We have had two maladed ones ie one chicken and one turkey and so I got to see them well into the night and saw that most were huddled up together; I don't think they appeciated my torch - which means there is no night light in there.

    The only thing in their house are two massive big water containers. If I put food in there, it is guaranteed that they will eat it and like anything - fatness is not an option - well I guess if you want to eat them - that would be different!!

    They are all queuing up and making a heck of a noise in the morning lol and naturally run to their food.

    I think you are going to find that all animals - no matter how much you feed them, they will always run for food.

    I hope you can get some help from my amateurish ways lol

    Suzanne
     
  4. Ridgerunner

    Ridgerunner Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Northwest Arkansas
    Some of my response is personal preference. There is no right or wrong answer, just the way we individually do it.

    First question is, should we have some extra food/water in the coop for night time? When they come out in the morning, they bum rush the food and seem like they are starving!

    What time do you let them out? They normally eat before they go to bed and empty their crop overnight. They do wake up hungry. In my opinion, if you let them out a reasonable time after sunrise, it really doesn’t matter. They are not going to starve to death. In the winter a pretty good distance from the equator those nights can be many many hours long and they won’t eat at night. So they can and do go maybe 16 to 18 hours without any food and do fine. I personally keep some feed and water inside the coop so I don’t feel rushed in the morning, but it is up to you.


    Second question is about them going in the coop at night.

    They are creatures of habit. I usually leave them locked in the coop about a week or so before I let them out to the run. Sometimes they get in the habit of going into the coop to go to bed. But quite often, some or all go to sleep outside the coop door in the run. I just stick them in the coop after dark. Some catch on pretty quickly but I’ve had to do that for a couple of weeks for some of them.


    My next question is about roosting. As of now, they don't roost to sleep at all. They just pile up on the floor under the light to sleep. They can roost, and I have seen them up on the roosts before. And they have a roosting ladder out in their run that they use all the time, so what gives? Are they just too young?

    Chicks will sleep on the roosts when they are ready. I’ve had brooder raised chicks start sleeping on the roosts as early as 5 weeks, but 10 to 12 weeks is more normal. Some have gone a lot longer than that before they start roosting at night. Until they start roosting at night, they tend to sleep in a group in a protected corner somewhere pretty low. I think instinctively they are trying to hide. That may tie into your previous question. They probably feel better protected in the run instead of in the coop.


    Do they still need the heat lamp?

    Last winter I took 5 week old chicks out of my heated brooder and put them in my unheated grow out coop. It does have good draft protection. Overnight lows were in the 40’s. When they were 5-1/2 weeks old, the overnight low hit the mid 20’s Fahrenheit. They were fine. Do yours still need the heat lamp? I seriously doubt it.
     
  5. HouseMouseHens

    HouseMouseHens Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jul 31, 2012
    Portland, Oregon
    My Coop
    Our coop is walk in too, as is our run. I thought about making keeping just the water in there, but I worry it would add to the moisture in the air. We don't really have any wild bird problem because our run is fully fenced and has a roof, so birds can't really get in.... Hmm..
    I thought about keeping a light out there on a timer, but we don't have electricity run to the coop, and I'd rather not have the extension cord running the light exposed through the winter. So when the light goes, it goes for good. Haha!

    I let them out when I wake up, which is usually between 7:30 and 8, but every once in a while, 8:30 So I guess they are probably fine. Thinking about it now, even my dogs bum-rush thier food when I put it out. Haha! :)'

    They were locked in the coop for a couple weeks actually when they moved in, since the run wasn't built yet. So I suppose we'll just keep putting them in and hope they get it soon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012

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