Moving chicks from brooder to outdoors in cold weather

SapphireVL

In the Brooder
May 21, 2021
12
12
29
I have six (6) 10-week old pullets. They are: 1 buff brahma, 1 white cochin, 1 plymouth rock, 1 wyandotte, 2 orpingtons. It has been a struggle the past few weeks trying to integrate them from barn brooder to outdoor coop. They will eventually integrate with another small another flock (6 months old), so on the "warmer" days, I take them outside and place them in a smaller coop-run right next to the large coop-run so the other pullets can "see but not touch". The problem is the weather over the past few weeks has fluctuated tremendously from the mid-30s to 50sF at night to high 40s- low 70sF during the day, and it is windy much of the time. I started with a few hours outside per day several weeks ago and now I try to leave them outside longer. I want them to acclimate, but I can see that they are expending energy trying to stay warm in the cooler temps. They fluff their feathers and huddle together on a perch. I put tarps up tp protect them from the wind because they do not seem to want to go inside their (temporary) Omlet coop. I end up bringing them back indoors each evening, where they promptly run under the heat lamps, fluff their feathers, and go to sleep. Are they too young for this process or am I doing something wrong?
 

rosemarythyme

Scarborough Fair
5 Years
Jul 3, 2016
18,187
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WA, Pac NW
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They're not too young at all. As long as all the birds are in good health they could've been off heat a few weeks ago - you can start by turning off the heat at night for a few days, while keeping them outside during the day time. As long as they have areas they can shelter from the wind (whether that be provided via tarps or other barricades (i.e. hay bales)) they're big enough and well feathered enough to easily handle those temperatures as long as you allow them to acclimate to it.
 

debbier98

Chirping
Premium Feather Member
Nov 22, 2021
40
136
63
Lancaster, Ca
I have six (6) 10-week old pullets. They are: 1 buff brahma, 1 white cochin, 1 plymouth rock, 1 wyandotte, 2 orpingtons. It has been a struggle the past few weeks trying to integrate them from barn brooder to outdoor coop. They will eventually integrate with another small another flock (6 months old), so on the "warmer" days, I take them outside and place them in a smaller coop-run right next to the large coop-run so the other pullets can "see but not touch". The problem is the weather over the past few weeks has fluctuated tremendously from the mid-30s to 50sF at night to high 40s- low 70sF during the day, and it is windy much of the time. I started with a few hours outside per day several weeks ago and now I try to leave them outside longer. I want them to acclimate, but I can see that they are expending energy trying to stay warm in the cooler temps. They fluff their feathers and huddle together on a perch. I put tarps up tp protect them from the wind because they do not seem to want to go inside their (temporary) Omlet coop. I end up bringing them back indoors each evening, where they promptly run under the heat lamps, fluff their feathers, and go to sleep. Are they too young for this process or am I doing something wrong?
They're not to young. My first bunch of chickens I got were alittle younger than yours when I first introduced them to the outside at the start of winter. I'd put them out in an enclosed area in the morning, made sure they had selter from wind and I'd leave them out until late afternoon. Then I'd load them up and bring them back to the garage where I had a large cage for them. I did not turn on their heat lamp, didn't provide any extra heat for them and they were fine. Personally I think that makes them alittle hardier. At the time, our day temps were usually high 5o's to low 6o's, nights were at or just above freezing. The temp in the garage stayed about 50. I did that until they were 3 months old, by then we had their coop built, and I'd make sure they went in their coop at night and they were fine. The second group I got as day olds was at the start of summer, and believe it or not, the chicks had a harder time with our summer heat than the others had with the cold weather. To this day, all my chickens greatly prefer the winter months over the summer months.
 

SapphireVL

In the Brooder
May 21, 2021
12
12
29
Thank you very much for your input! This is my first time with fall chicks. Based on your and rosemarythyme's suggestions, I understand that I should not have still been supplying supplemental heat when I put them back in the garage brooder at night. I did so only because I thought they were acting cold based on what I read (fluffing feathers, huddled together). It is warming up somewhat this week (temps remain between 40-60F even at night), so I will reduce, then cut, the brooder heat and try to leave them out all night.
 

NatJ

Free Ranging
Mar 20, 2017
8,636
18,887
726
USA
I should not have still been supplying supplemental heat when I put them back in the garage brooder at night. I did so only because I thought they were acting cold based on what I read (fluffing feathers, huddled together).
They probably were cold, but just bringing them into the garage (probably warmer than outdoors) can be enough to let them warm up, without also needing the supplemental heat.

It is warming up somewhat this week (temps remain between 40-60F even at night), so I will reduce, then cut, the brooder heat and try to leave them out all night.
I suggest you measure the actual temperature in some of the places the chicks spend time, and use that to help you figure out the heat/no heat and indoor/outdoor situation.

For example, if the garage (no heat) is warmer than what they have already been experiencing in the daytimes outdoors, you can cut out the brooder heat immediately.

Yes, after a few nights of no heat in the garage, leaving them out all night sounds like a good idea.
 

jBabychickn

Songster
Premium Feather Member
Jul 19, 2021
71
132
106
Paducah, KY
My Coop
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I just wanted to say that I feel you ALL the way!! I really, really do!! Cold weather and Chicks is stressful. This is my first time brooding in the fall/winter.

I have a flock of little ones right now too; I have (6) Silkies and (2) silked Easter-eggers that will be 11wks tomorrow!! — They’ve been out in their Omlet coop/run for about 3wks now. We live in Western Kentucky and our Temps have fluctuated heavily as well with Temps just the same as yours. Except, we’ve dipped as low as 20-25°F on a few of nights already…

Our first week was rough! (On me, not the chicks! LOL!) ~> The main thing was getting them to go up into their Coop area at night on their own. That took about a week of me crawling-in there and helping them up. What really moved things along was providing a battery operated light in the Coop for about an hour before nighttime, plus installing a wooden ramp. Because, that ladder is way to steep in the Omlet and just a little too scary for them to traverse. Once we did that, They got it all the sudden! Happiest Chicken-mama Moment Ever!!

🐣♥️♥️🐓

Things I’ve done to Winterize and to Ease my Mind 🤦🏼‍♀️🐣~>
- We have a Greenhouse tarp over the run area that is excellent at blocking any wind and rain, as well as encapsulating warmth.
- I also have the custom-made tarps from Omlet that’s fitted for the three sides below the Coop enclosure.
- I use Straw in the run for bedding, something I wouldn’t normally do in any other season. And, they absolutely love it; it keeps them busy with making little nests all around and snuggling down into the straw.

- I removed the Plastic shelving from their Coop. My thought process is: Pine shavings would be warm for them to bed down in vs. roosting on plastic slats. Plus, it’s what they’re used to from the Brooder.
- Purely for my own preference & peace of mind: I use a 25watt heating pad for Chickens on nights that’s below-freezing. This helps to keep them warm, but it doesn’t “heat the coop”.

- I continually monitor their environment inside the Coop with a Govee Thermometer / Hydrometer, especially when using an additional heat source with the heating pad.

——————————-

P.S.
I also have another flock of 6 month olds!! LOL! I’ve got (4) Jubilee Orpingtons and (6) Salmon Faverolles. They’ve been introduced to the babies thru the caging of the Omlet coop for several weeks. Now, they are all free ranging together really well. The older girls do a little pecking to show that they are older and bossy; but nothing dangerous or scary. My two older Roos are excellent with the young ones! They look after them very intently and will even herd them up and bring them in closer to their coop area if they stray too far. Its too much fun to watch; I could watch them for hours and hours!!! ♥️♥️♥️ (Oh! And, their Coop has a ground floor chicken-door & man-door, so we never had to do any “stair-training! LOL!)…
 

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