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Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by chickenmo, Mar 20, 2015.
At what age should I move my chicks outside to the coop? and when can I start giving them grit?
Grit should be offered when/if you start feeding anything other than commercial poultry ration (ie starter/grower). The starter/grower is designed to be water soluble, so it digests without grit - any other foods (including scratch grains) are going to require the addition of grit so that the digestive system of your birds can work properly by employing the grinding action the grit assists with.
Moving your birds out will depend on a few factors - is the coop wired with electric that will allow for using supplemental heat in the coop? Are there other, older, birds already in the coop that the chicks will be integrating with? How many birds are there? If there are no other birds to integrate with, the chicks can move outside once they are fully feathered and able to maintain their own body temperature without needing supplemental heat - the actual age can vary by a week or more, so it's best to evaluate your birds vs. relying on a calendar. Our last batch moved out at 5 weeks to an unwired coop. I had weaned them off the supplemental heat in the week prior and they went to a draft free coop in temperatures in the 50-60's, within the week we had a cold snap - complete with snow storm and sub-freezing temperatures - the birds were as active and healthy as ever. There were sufficient numbers of them to keep each other more than toasty when they piled up to sleep at night.
My experience mirrors Ol Grey Mare's. I don't use supplemental heat out in the coop, although with that said my newest batch of chicks are out there with a heating pad cave. They are just 1 and 2 weeks old, though, and in a pen in the run which keeps them away from the Bigs, but they can still see each other.
My first batch of chicks went out when they were mostly feathered, at 5.5 weeks, which was about 2 weeks longer than I wanted to keep them in the house. I also weaned them off the lamp for about a week before moving day. The daytime temps were in the 40s, and at night it was in the 20s. I had initially put a heat lamp out there for them, but at night when I checked on them they weren't even near it - they were snuggled down in the litter doing a great job of taking care of themselves. Same story the second night, so I took the light out, and that night it snowed. Our last snowfall was June 6th, and the chicks had been out since April 1st. Now, if you do the math, that means that by the time it quit snowing here they were around 12 weeks or so. If I'd kept them in until after that last snowfall I'd have gone crazy!
Broodies do a great job of taking care of their chicks. But I've yet to see one who could completely cover and warm 10 - 20 four to five week old chicks, and yet those chicks grow up just fine.