Moving chicks outside in the winter

Discussion in 'Raising Baby Chicks' started by HTPickles, Jan 5, 2015.

  1. HTPickles

    HTPickles New Egg

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    Jan 5, 2015
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    I've been raising chickens for a couple years now but wonder what I've gotten myself into this time. I couldn't help myself, no one was taking home the pullets at the local feed store and I've got a few spots open in my coop, so I got 2 RI & 2 NH reds. We live north of Boston and it's about to be the coldest part of winter. They're about 6 weeks old now, not quite fully feathered, I'm just wondering what others think is a reasonable timeline to move them out of the cage in my now stinky dining room and out into the coop with the other girls. I will separate them from the older girls via cage for a while anyway, I'm not so concerned about making the social connection, but more about when they can move out into the cold. I don't want to use a heat lamp because I'm afraid it might burn out and if they're dependent on it they will die - not to mention the cost of electricity went up 50% last month! On another note I've been pleasantly surprised how friendly these chicks are - my prior RI reds were very skittish, and I read that NH reds aren't very people friendly - but I've never had any young ones so eager to spend time with their humans before!
     
  2. PirocaKeeper

    PirocaKeeper Chillin' With My Peeps

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    At 6 weeks they are way too young to put them outside, especially if they are not fully feathered. Even when they are fully feathered, they cannot stay outside at first unless the temperature is around 70s and it is not windy. Chicks are very susceptible to the cold and the wind can rob them from the little heat they can produce. My best guestimate for you would be, not to take them out until spring gets here and the temperatures are on the warmer side. Last year I hatched little ones in my incubator in February and they did not make it outside until end of April and even then, they came inside at night for a couple of weeks. Probably not the news you wanted to hear, but my guess is if you were to place them outside, you will loose them within a day or 2.
     
  3. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    If you need to get them out of your dining room, can you find a transitional space for them that would be cooler, but still not as cold as being at the mercy of outside temperatures would be?

    How about a service porch or basement or an enclosed front porch. Somewhere that you can rig up a 100 watt incandescent bulb to keep them around 65-70 degrees?

    What are the daytime temperatures like? As long as it's a sunny day and the temperatures are hovering around 60, and they are out of the wind, you might be able to let them spend their daytime out in the run. This would help get them used to the adult chickens and vice versa. Then bring them inside as it gets cold later in the day.

    If they are just sleeping in the house, their accommodations wouldn't need to be as complex. I have one hen with some disabilities who spends days in the run, but needs to sleep indoors. All she needs is a dog crate to sleep in, so it isn't any hassle at all. Maybe you could think of something along those lines.

    Think this through from all the different angles, and you will come up with a solution.

    On edit: I just had a look at your weather for this coming week. Ugly is an understatement. No way the chicks can handle those daytime temps. But perhaps the weather will improve and you may be able to get them outdoors occasionally in the coming weeks.
     
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2015
  4. HighStreetCoop

    HighStreetCoop Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My Coop
  5. ochochicas

    ochochicas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Hi all,
    I'm in the same boat, but I'm on the west coast where the temps are supposed to be in the 40s and up to 50 degrees during the day. I have 13 chicks that are 8 weeks old. They have been living in the house (around 60 degrees) and going outside everyday for about 4 hours. Last week it was in the 20s and 30s and they still went out and seemed to do fine running around on the frozen ground. They are fully feathered. The smallest ones are about a pound and a half. The biggest one is just over 2 pounds.

    I want to start putting them out all day while I'm at work. Are they too young to stay out for 10 hours with temps in the 40s? They will be in a 10 x 10 foot horse stall that is full of hay. It is dry and free of wind, but still cold inside. At night I'll still be bringing them in the house.
     
  6. azygous

    azygous Chicken Obsessed

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    Your chickens should be able to handle those temps standing on their heads. After a week of spending days out there, I see no problem with moving them out there full time, if that's where their coop is.
     
  7. Areolyn

    Areolyn Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I understand that it is very risky to put chicks into the weather before being fully feathered. I too ,have run across that same problem(I got 25 too many little growing chocolate drops before christmas!) and they outgrew their sandbox brooder in the little washroom at our house. My mother insisted I move them, so I did. They're in a 8 ft stock tank in the shed. You can absolutely move a brooder outside IF:

    The brooder is in a shelter from ALL the weather. I used my dad's old tool shed, there is ventilation but no drafts and no other animals can get inside beside me. It is also very well protecting against the crappy Texas weather.

    You have a good heat source to stand the temp. I have two flood lights and a water resistant heating pad. During the day I crack the tarp that is over the tank and at night cover it. There is what I call a "cuddle shelter" inside the tank that consists of a cinder block holding up the turtle shell of my sand box. Clean hay is in there and they cuddle underneath it at night to sleep.

    You can make sure water is unfrozen during this time, over here its hard for eater to be completely frozen, and since there is a good amount of heat radiating in the tank, it doesn't freeze.

    May I ask how old yours are? If they are fully feathered don't be afraid of putting them outside. If they still need to be in a brooder, just make sure you have it in a shelter with a heat source.. Plus the food and water. I am usually adamant about keeping mine indoors until full feather, but this past time I have waay too many to keep in the house. This has worked so far.

    EDIT: I reread and saw they're 6 weeks, so yes they will be ok if you put them outside, but I still recommend a brooder of some sort for them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2015
  8. ochochicas

    ochochicas Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Thanks for the replies. Unfortunately the temps dropped a lot last night and it was below freezing this morning. I kept the chicks in. Tomorrow I have to go to work at some ridiculously early hour, so the new plan is to put the chicks out on Friday if it warms up.

    On another note, I have a broody hen outside that has seven little chicks. They are 3 weeks old. Today the hen and six of the babies figured out how to fly out of the stall. One chick was left inside by her lonesome all day. She seemed to be fine this evening although it never got out of the 30s today. Those little babies are tough!
     
  9. HTPickles

    HTPickles New Egg

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    Jan 5, 2015
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    I appreciate all the replies too. I went half way and moved them to my unheated workshop. I'm getting continuous emergency alerts on my phone about the cold weather tomorrow. It will be around zero overnight and highs in the 20's tomorrow. My older girls are hunkered down in their coop, the younger ones I put in the workshop (still a part of the house) with a 100 watt bulb in a dog crate inside a large cardboard box with old towels over the top. I've checked on them a few times and they aren't even huddling together so I think they're fine. I'll check on them again in the middle of the night but I just had to get them out of the main part of the house.
     
  10. rocks3flowers

    rocks3flowers Out Of The Brooder

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    this is an issue Iv bin looking into. I have ordered 25 chicks in the mail and they are to come in the next few weeks I plan to keep them in are basement in a brooder for 6-8 weeks intill they get there feathers then we are moving them to an unseated shead I have a larger style brooder pen that they will be going in and we will be using 2 250 heat lamps and a waterproof heating pad. we then will keep them there intill outside warms up to 40-50 and use the heat light at night or on cold days. these birds are rocks and do good in cold weather and also grow fast. it depends a lot on the birds them self. but like one person noted she has chicks outside with there mom and are doing great. they are hardy animals or at lest if you have cold winters get a hardy breed.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2015

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